Suzuki project leader Shinichi Sahara has detailed how the squad’s new MotoGP management structure will work in 2021, as the reigning champion team attempts to replace departing boss Davide Brivio without bringing in new faces.
When Brivio stunned the MotoGP paddock by accepting an offer to head Alpine’s Formula 1 efforts at the eleventh hour, he left Suzuki with a huge gap to fill just as it should’ve been focusing on defending the title it won last year with Joan Mir.
It quickly became clear that Suzuki wouldn’t just bring in a new team principal from outside. And it’s not actually directly promoting a single person either. Instead it’s trying something a bit more democratic.
Veteran project leader Sahara clarified what the team will do in a roundtable discussion with journalists this week.
“Every team management-related matter will be discussed among the key people in the team,” he explained.
“To do that, we’ve established a team management committee with the key people, and these people are in charge item by item and section by section, and will discuss matters and exchange information.
“This is the way that we’ve chosen to manage the situation after Davide’s departure.”
That management team will consist of a number of team and motorsport veterans, as Sahara (pictured above) and technical manager Ken Kawauchi are joined by crew chiefs Frankie Carchedi and Jose Manuel Cazeaux, and Suzuki’s highly-experienced marketing and communications manager Alberto Gomez.
There will even remain a Brivio on the committee, with team coordinators Mitia Dotta and Roberto Brivio (brother of Davide) also stepping up to take on additional new roles.
And with that group having considerable experience of working together since Suzuki made its return to the premier class in 2015, Sahara is adamant there won’t be any issues arising from the unexpected change in how the team is led.
“Even when we had Davide as a team manager, I was also in charge as team director and I spoke with him on every matter,” he said.
“We exchanged enough information between me, him and Ken Kawauchi, the technical manager.
“I know how they managed the human side and the technical side of the team and I have no concern.
“We have super experienced people on the technical, marketing and administration sides, and I have no worries at all.
“We’ve only just started the new system with the team management committee and it’s worked very well so far.
“Everything is under control, I feel. I think the team is united more than before.”
In many ways, it makes complete sense that Suzuki is not looking to bring a new person in to steer its highly-successful team.
Its group is remarkably well-bonded, in large part thanks to Brivio’s excellent people management skills.
They’re a tight-knit bunch and there is arguably a greater risk in disrupting that unity by adding a new person at the top than there is by maintaining consistency with the current leaders.
However, while the new solution might be an elegant one to fix the unforeseen problem of Brivio’s departure, Sahara also made it clear that it’s not the long-term plan – and that in fact it just be a preparatory move to allow the team to promote from within in the near future.
“I don’t know who will become team manager in the future,” he conceded, “but for everybody it’s a good chance to learn what the team management job is, to be involved in the committee and exchange all the information about what we need to do.
“The best situation is if I can promote somebody within the team to become team manager in the future.
“But if somebody gets promoted to team manager, then we will need another person to replace this guy’s original position. We will see during the season.
“I think those guys, and also other team members, are highly skilled. So it’s no surprise if somebody can be promoted to team manager in the future… but not me!”