When the shit hits the fan.

24 08 2009

4 wheels on my wagon

In the European Grand Prix at Valencia this Sunday the Maclaren Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton came into the 2nd pit stop with a 4sec advantage over the second place car of Reuben Barrichello.

Working as a slickly oiled machine the car went up on the jacks, the wheels came off, the fuel pump went in and…then they realised there were no wheels to go back ON the car. After what must have seemed like an eternity the spare set of boots came out of the garage and were fitted. Presumably behind that protective gear there were a few red faces. Following his pit stop Barrichello won the race by 2.3 secs.

Looking at the result we can see Barrichello’s pit times were 8 sec shorter than Hamilton and when Hamilton entered the pits he was 4 secs ahead of Barrichello. Interesting maths.

Interviewed immediately after the race the team principal Martin Whitmarsh when asked specifically about the incident said, “It didn’t affect the outcome of the race…we lost the race because we weren’t quick enough (on the track).”

Interviewed immediately after the race, driver Lewis Hamilton refused to allocate blame to the pit crew and said, “We win and lose together… these things happen.”

When the stuff hits the fan most adults fully recognise their error. It is not always necessary to specifically or openly point it out; those with insight hopefully learn. Sometimes leaders attempt to protect the reputation and “feelings” of a team by publicly sidestepping or even denying problems. Other leaders openly accept the problem, avoid blamestorming, and unite the team in moving forward despite the problem.

Was there really a problem? Did it really affect the result? How is the reputation of the team affected by each approach? Which leader would you prefer to lead your team?



5 responses

24 08 2009
AJ Cann

I thought Martin Whitmarsh’s explanation after the race was pretty clear (driver swapping, trying to get an extra lap for Hamilton), although he didn’t *quite* admit responsibility, or say sorry. Other people I’ve talked to felt Whitmarsh was covering up. I don’t. These things happen. Roll on less pit stops next year (unless F1 becomes sponsored by Quikfit).

24 08 2009

Thanks for that. I don’t think he is “covering up” more working on protecting reputation. Lewis Hamilton’s approach was more that a leader maintaining the team. Which is right? Depends eh?

Next season apparently there won’t be fuel stops but we can expect the same 3 wheels on my wagon issues as they have to change boots three times. The old joke that if Maclaren hired a set of scallys they’d get the wheels off more quickly than the pit crew but the car would either be left on bricks or re-sprayed and sent out as a Braun.

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