There’s a saying which offers wisdom for those presented with apparently impossible situations. “When you can’t solve a problem, manage it.” (Robert Schuller)
Red Bull Racing having dominated the sport of Formula One for the best part of five seasons, recently found themselves with a mountain to climb. Their winning partner who provided the power units for the Newey uber dominant car designs have fallen on bad times.
Having been a driving force behind the new V6 Hybrid engine regulations, the French manufacturer have so far failed to deliver a unit comparable to that of Ferrari and Mercedes.
Red Bull’s response has been well documented and is best described as engaging in an ongoing culture of blame towards Renault, which has led to a very public war of words between the two partners.
Of course, read any ‘success’ guru’s 10 point plan of how ‘to achieve’, and pushing people beyond their limits is usually ranked highly in the list.
Red Bull may believe that they are deploying an ‘iron sharpens iron’ technique, but as Albert Einstein commented, the difference between stupidity and genius – is that genius recognises it has its limits.
Speaking to Autosport Renault Sport F1’s CEO, Cyril Abiteboul, has called on Red Bull to stop the blame game. He believes the ongoing waves of criticism are having not motivational and are having the opposite effect on his troops.
“What I think was needed more than anything was to again build confidence in ourselves. I compare the situation to 2005 when we designed and built one engine which allowed us to win the championship.
“I look at the confidence we had back then to do that sort of thing, to short cut all the processes in terms of validation”.
“Now, each time we try and speed things up we immediately get sacked on track because of various issues. There’s a downward spiral we need to invert.
TJ13 reported that Renault were ‘persuaded’ to take engines to the first race in Australia they knew were not properly bench tested for reliability. Further, Abiteboul has previously alluded to the fact that Renault believed reliability should have been priority one, whilst Red Bull preferred to pressure their engine partner to deliver improved performance and speed.
Until Sergio Marchionne took the reins at Ferrari, there was an internal war consistently raging between the departments of engine and car design. Since the culture of blame was removed, Ferrari have clearly moved ahead quickly and have at times this season challenged the might of Mercedes.
“That is one of the difficulties we have with our relationship with Red Bull,” Abiteboul reveals. “When you are not one single team it is more difficult to again build up the confidence in a group than when you are completely integrated.
“That’s one of the things we are working on. We are trying to get Red Bull to support us rather than bash us in public.”
Abiteboul says when he returned over the winter to Renault Sport, he told the Red Bull powers that be, it would take a year to deliver an engine capable of competing with Mercedes. But Red Bull’s obsession with the here and now has caused this programme to continually change course in terms of priorities.
“It’s a Catch 22, that’s why at some point in time you have to stop running after a train that has already gone and to wait for the next train,” Abiteboul observes.
“They’ve tried to induce us to work quicker, but if anything it has aggravated a situation that was very raw.
“We need to trust and listen to each other, rather than trying to change the natural course of things.”
Other wisdom literature reveals ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and Red Bull have achieved little by pursuing a path of abuse and haste with Renault.
Mateschitz et al should know that failure is an integral part of success.
Henry Ford is often cited as the founder of the modern process driven mass manufacturing. But he failed on a number of occasions on his relentless pursuit of success.
His first business building motor cars was shut down after just over a year when the investors lost confidence in his ability to succeed. Ford refused to be beaten, he found new investors and started again a year later.
Again he was forced out of this venture and had to find a third group of investors to start the now fabled Ford Motor Company.
Walt Disney, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Milton Hershley and H.J. Heinz all experienced success then the disaster of failure – yet refused to be beaten and sometime later came back even stronger.
Renault’s heritage and success in winning F1 races, ranks only behind Ferrari and Ford since 1950. However, since they arrived in the sport in 1977 – they have delivered more winners than any other engine manufacture and have become synonymous with the sport.
Red Bull by comparison bought the Jaguar team and competed in Formula One for the first time in 2005. They were known as the ‘party team’ and for their fresh approach to managing an F1 racing enterprise.
However, the ‘fresh’ and ‘youthful’ attitude of Red Bull ‘on the up’, has over the past year degenerated into a pubescent teenage like petulance, as Infiniti Red Bull Racing face the inevitable difficult season or two.
Red Bull should realise that to solve their problem, they need to manage it – and their behaviour – far better.