"How to Lead a Team Under Tremendous Pressure"
Antonio Perdicchia spent many years leading Formula 1 teams, such as the BMW Sauber F1 Team, amongst others. At our N-Conference he will share his experiences, and tips he picked up along the way.
Mr Perdicchia, what are the criteria for selecting a technician for a Formula 1 team?
Antonio Perdicchia: Every technician has a long and arduous path behind them. They usually start with road cars, then move up through different series such as rallies, GT, Endurance, prototypes, and Formula. The highlight of such a career is getting to work on a Formula 1 team; especially when it’s for one of the top teams such as Mercedes, Red Bull, or Ferrari.
What set of skills does a technician need to have to be included in this elite circle?
Antonio Perdicchia: You need a lot of experience, and a lot of foresight. In Formula 1, there is no researchable knowledge. You are always at the spearhead of development, working with cutting-edge technologies alongside the world's best engineers. Good technicians know where hazards can arise, and which parts and elements need to be protected.
Is there a clear hierarchy or flat structures?
Antonio Perdicchia: There is a clear hierarchy on the car. The Race Engineer is at the top, followed by the Chief Mechanic, the Car Chief, and Car Technicians (front - and rear - axle mechanics, composites technicians, gearbox and engine mechanics, electricians, car jumper, etc.) The Car Chief is responsible of the vehicle, runs the team, and works with the people - there is a very open attitude.
What does the Car Chief do when things get difficult?
Antonio Perdicchia: Things mostly tend to get difficult at night, when everyone is tired. When people got tense, I would usually have food brought in and make the team eat together for some sharing. When everyone shared a meal and had conversations, the mood would lighten up. It was also important to me to have good and motivating music. Our technicians had built a very powerful sound system, which distinguished us from the other teams in the pit lane. There was also what we called the “teamkasse” in which everyone who created more work for the teammates, through mistakes or carelessness, had to deposit some money. I had even made it so far as to get the drivers to pay too. At the end of the season, the whole team would get together and share a meal with the collected amount.
What was so special about record world champion Michael Schumacher?
Michael is a perfectionist, and a real team player. He was really interested in what happened with the team. When there was a problem, he would never let the technicians solve it on their own; he would work with us until the problem was solved.
Who will be World Champion this season?
Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari, I hope.
Antonio Perdicchia was amongst others Chief Mechanic and Car Chief for the BMW Sauber F1 Team, as well as team member of the Ferrari Marlboro F1 Team. He has worked with Schumacher, Barrichello, Prost, Kubica and Vettel, to name a few. He became world champion with Ferrari in 2003. He will be speaking on Friday, October 6th at the N-Conference. After his talk, he will offer workshops on the importance of sharing in a team.
At the N-Conference, our highlight of the year, our community meets to share, learn, and network. There will also be lectures, panel discussions, workshops, and a legendary dinner in the Kronenhalle.
Information about speakers & agenda can be found here.
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