Which F1 drivers would make the best team bosses? - The Race
Formula 1

Which F1 drivers would make the best team bosses?

Jan 19 2021

Which Formula 1 drivers – past or present – would make the best team bosses?

That’s what we asked you last week in our Question of the Day on The Race’s social channels.

We’ve collated some of the best of your replies – and got our writers to have their say on the names you suggested.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Sebastian Vettel

@Georgia_LLB2018: “100% he loves the sport, he loves history and he is all about improving the sport to be as efficient as possible”

@5_Red_Lights: “Vettel has already run Ferrari, hasn’t he?”

Scott Mitchell: Before committing to a career as a racing driver, Vettel was very interested in the engineering side of the sport and retains a fascination in how stuff works and why.

He’s also proven to be very adept at embedding himself within a team, getting the most out of individuals as people (not just as colleagues), and throwing himself into a culture.

He’s intelligent, hard-working, incredibly well-read on F1 history and hugely passionate.

I think Sebastian would have a good idea of what a team needs to be successful and, maybe even more importantly, I think he’d be a brilliant leader of people.

ALEX WURZ

Alex Wurz

@MotorsportDavey: “He’s been incredibly active in activities surrounding the sport, and I’ve heard he is a knowledgeable person”

Corey Chaw via Facebook: “He ticked the boxes in networking and active involvement in the sport, experience as a race and test driver and vast knowledge both on technical and business side of the sport”

Mark Hughes: Yes, Alex is absolutely a high calibre intelligence, absolutely steeped in racing and very well connected.

He would bridge the racing and business worlds very effectively. He’d be smart and competitive.

But would he want to surrender his whole being to the task? Because that’s what it would take.

AYRTON SENNA

Ayrton Senna

@PatrickSikler: “I know he’s no longer with us, but imagine Senna mentoring Max Verstappen”

Jack Benyon: We know Senna could be a divisive character, but there’s also plenty of evidence of his business nous and he also had an ability to switch teams seemingly at the perfect time.

Sep 10 : S2 E5: Two crazy weeks in F1 history - 1993 Portuguese GP

He may well have had the combination of intangible ability and understanding of how the business and team side of F1 worked to mean he’d be just as adept on that side as he was as a driver.

MARTIN BRUNDLE

Martin Brundle

@Welshguy_78: “Martin Brundle without a doubt. Well respected, liked and super smart. Would get the best out of any team he managed”

Sam Smith: I tend to agree with Welshguy_78 – mainly because of the breadth of experience accrued by Brundle over the years but also because he worked under such a diverse range of team bosses, characters and mentors like Tom Walkinshaw, Eddie Jordan and Ken Tyrrell.

If you took the best attributes of those three and stitched them together you’d have one great charismatic and strong leader.

I think Brundle would certainly be smart enough to know what those best bits were and apply them to a management position.

LEWIS HAMILTON

Lewis Hamilton

@richard_figg: “As much as I don’t like Hamilton, he builds a good team of people who want to work with him”

Scott Mitchell: We’ll get a bit of an idea of Hamilton as a team boss with his arm’s length control of the X44 Extreme E team.

That’s not to downplay how seriously Hamilton is taking that entry but more a recognition that he will (or should!) still be a Formula 1 driver when X44 starts competing so there’s no way Hamilton will be as dedicated as a normal team boss would be.

But if we take a look at Hamilton’s evolution over the last few years the prospect of him leading a team is a fun one. He’s got a huge profile, a relentless work ethic and fantastic contacts, plus he’s more switched on than people give him credit for, so there are some key ingredients there to make him a good team boss.

Plus, if his compassionate side can outweigh the emotion of competition, he is the sort of person who should foster a good culture and make people excited about working for him. And it would be a chance to create opportunities for a more diverse workforce, which is something he cares about.

The flip side is he has so many things he wants to do that throwing himself completely into running an F1 team seems like far too focused a task post-driving career.

It seems unlikely he’d want to be pigeon-holed: and if you aren’t totally devoted to the job then you can’t be in charge of an F1 team.

FERNANDO ALONSO

Fernando Alonso

@Fergusnix: “Fernando Alonso, he’s already been doing it his whole career”

Sam Smith: Having seen Alonso at reasonably close quarters in his World Endurance Championship campaigns with Toyota in 2018 and 2019 I think he’d take an awful lot from that experience and apply it all better than people would think.

Andreas Seidl has shown that the endurance mentality of management can pay some dividends in F1, and Alonso will definitely bring some of that knowledge to his 2021 season, so why wouldn’t he do the same for a future management position?

Jack Benyon: Whatever people make of Alonso, his preparation is second to none and his recent IndyCar appearance with Arrow McLaren SP was a perfect example.

Despite how people might see his reputation, he has gravitas. Everyone looks up to him for his achievements and I can especially see him working well with young drivers like he did at Indy last year.

He’s already got the Formula Renault and karting programmes where he’s not quite as hands on as a normal team principal would be because of his racing commitments, but the intention to expand post-racing is clearly there.

I think he’d be better as a team boss than some people might think.

DAVID COULTHARD

David Coulthard

@huntbrothersF1: “Got to look at Coulthard, has the experience and knowledge required to be successful”

@nrdean3013: “Coulthard would make a great boss for any F1 team. He knows the sport inside out, very shrewd businessman, well respected by a lot of people and is a no nonsense Scotsman”

Mark Hughes: Personally, I think DC enjoys life too much to take on the commitment that would be necessary.

He has the perfect set-up right now of being able to dip in and out of the sport and be well paid for delivering great value to his various clients.

JAMES HUNT

James Hunt

@FormulaWhy: “I mean, the team would be a disaster on track, but imagine the fun they’d have inside and out of the paddock”

Sam Smith: Actually, Hunt was a respected driver advisor for Marlboro, predominantly in Formula 3000 in the late 1980s and early 90s so from a driver management perspective within a team he would have been a boon.

He was also much more of an intelligent intra-team operator, something which is often forgotten due to the now rather tired playboy tag which his sad early demise has accelerated so much.

LUCAS DI GRASSI

Suggested by @MotorsportDavey and @dwewilde1

Lucas di Grassi

Edd Straw: Di Grassi has always been more than a driver, with Manor Motorsport chief John Booth once saying that he’d have had him back as an F3 race engineer after running him in the category.

Di Grassi is an intelligent character with vision who has a clear way of doing things, as well as a decent understanding of the business of motorsport.

Apr 24 : Lucas di Grassi's thoughts on the impact of coronavirus on Formula E and F1

Even when he was an up and coming F1 aspirant, it was clear he would have a long future in motorsport off track as well as on it and it would be no surprise to see him as a team boss in the future.

Fernando Alonso

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