Dieter Zetsche

Zetsche: Formula 1 is absolutely relevant!

Dieter Zetsche

Mercedes have dominated Formula 1 four the past four years and in the wake of evidence from Melbourne on Saturday and on the eve of the new season, in which they could well do it all over again, the German company’s chairman Dieter Zetsche shared his enthusiasm for the sport.

Zetsche’s enthusiasm for his company’s Formula 1 programme is refreshing and motivating, coming at a time when dark clouds loom over the future of the sport.  

He wrote the following ‘season preview’ on his Linkedin blog:

“I don’t know if you are excited. I sure am. I have closely followed Formula 1 for decades now. But I suppose those of you who haven’t ever screamed at their TVs on race day while furiously running back and forth in the living room – may not completely understand.

“Experiencing the intense pressure in the pit lane, the extraordinary team effort and the emotional explosion when the race plan finally pays off at the finish line really got me hooked to this sport.

“Apart from my personal excitement, racing has always been an integral part of the Mercedes DNA. The first-ever car named “Mercedes” – after the daughter of Emil Jellinek by the way – was a 35 hp racer. A pure rocket … at the time.

“This weekend the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team and all the others will start the new Formula 1 season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. As a CEO, I’m confident our team will make a strong run at its 5th drivers’ and constructors’ championship title in a row. As a fan, I wish to see a whole bunch of close and exciting races!

“Before this season kicks off is a good time for some reflection. People often ask me if Formula 1 is really still relevant. Isn’t it just a relic of the past given climate change, rising e-mobility and the self-driving future of mobility? I’m sure some of you have come over these discussions, too.

“From my perspective Formula 1 is absolutely relevant! And maybe more so today than ever. Here are three reasons why.

“First: Formula 1 is a prime R&D laboratory. Formula 1 racecars are the most connected cars out there. They are packed with sensors. In a 90-minute practice session, for example, the tire data alone equals the amount of data required for one full box set of Game of Thrones!

“Plus, in 2014 the entire Formula 1 series switched to hybrid engines. We were able to gather a lot of experience with advanced hybrid technology. Last year, our engine achieved 50 per cent thermal efficiency on the dyno – that means: today’s Mercedes Formula 1 engine is able to transform half of the energy of the fuel into on-track performance.

“Road cars typically have a thermal efficiency rate of 30 to 35 per cent. And you can be sure that we take all we learn on the racetrack to make Mercedes engines and cars even more efficient on public roads.

“Starting in 2019, for example, we will enter the fully electric “Formula E” series. This exemplifies our mantra of pursuing future technologies without leaving proven ones behind: We are sharing smarts and selling S-Classes.

“We’ll hand out up to 12 different Mercedes models a year at a fixed monthly rate – and will at the same time sell public transport tickets through our moovel app. We offer high-tech diesels, plug-in hybrids, EVs and fuel cells. And we will support both Formula 1 and Formula E.

“Next is culture. The number of staff allowed at the racetrack is limited to 60 engineers and mechanics. That means: every individual has to take full responsibility for their actions. Every individual can make a difference about winning or losing a race. And decisions are sometimes made on a thousandth-of-a-second basis.

“Here again motorsports teaches a lot about business: The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team wins and loses together – as a team. They don’t look for scapegoats. They look for solutions. If things go wrong – and things do go wrong – the team will strive to come back stronger in the next race. Every Sunday. Over and over again.

“In this respect Formula 1 mirrors the cultural change we are shaping throughout our entire company with our leadership 2020 program: We want more speed and flexibility, more empowerment and individual responsibility and a new understanding of winning and failing as a team – so we learn and come back stronger.

“Coming back stronger and putting in that last bit of effort required to take the trophy home in a close finish – that’s what makes my third and most important argument: pure emotion. More than 350 million people watched Formula 1 on TV in 2017: that’s a lot of people getting excited for a of couple hours every other weekend.

“Formula 1 plays on some of the most fundamental human emotions: passion (for your favorite team or driver), dislike (for the other teams), agony (over a lost race) or euphoria (when it goes well) – along with the sensory experience that comes from the speed of the cars and roar of the engines. Formula 1 can provide everything one needs for a perfectly entertaining weekend.

“All that’s why Mercedes keeps investing in racing. And it’s why I personally can’t wait for the new season to take off. I wish all drivers a safe and fair competition. And to our drivers and the entire Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team: go for it, guys!”

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