Formula 1 – the anti-team example!

Our last post talked about how we use the Formula 1 example of how teams can work effectively together and I often get a Formula 1 team cited in our workshops  as an example of a high performance team. The level of team work they usually exhibit is a classic example of a group of individuals working towards a common goal. However, we have recently seen how fragile this team can be because of 1 particular factor – the ego of the individual.

Sebastian Vettel demonstrated that, ultimately, the will of an individual can undermine the will of the team. Despite being given very clear instruction to not race his team mate, he put the success of the team in severe jeopardy. It’s happened before where a small mistake meant that both cars went off the track after a coming together and didn’t finish the race. In that case, the impact on the team was that there were no after race celebrations for a job well done and I’m sure some frank and open discussions about what impact that would have on future scenarios. It appears the lessons learnt on that occasion were lost in the recent race.

Compare this example to the McLaren team. Under the same instructions the drivers did follow team rules – although Rosburg did it under a certain amount of protest, he still abided by team rules.

What is the difference between the two? Probably the fact that Vettel is a triple World champion will give his ego that extra boost. The effect of this boost was for him to feel that it’s about him – not the team. We see all too often that success can breed an attitude of self importance which can lead to rule breaking (in a host of different ways!) and an erosion of REAL team values.

So, how did Vettel react to this? Compare the celebrations of him after crossing the line and getting out of the car to his demeanour after being greeted by his ‘team mate’ and team principal. Was he immediately sorry for disobeying the orders given to him? No. A mixture of inflated ego and adrenaline meant that for Vettel, at that time, winning was everything – no matter the consequences.

There is no question that he is a great driver. However, in a sport where the contribution of the team is all important, Vettel runs a risk of alienating himself. What impact may this have? Just look at other sporting examples where ego’s have not been allowed to impact on the team. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United FC has a long history of jettisoning players seemingly in the form of their lives because of problems. Would Vettel win another World championship without Red Bull? I hope it’s a question that Vettel asked himself after the race! Remember Seb, a great way to think about teamwork is this – Together Everyone Achieves More.


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