RPM network focuses on Motorsport Industry strategy development post COVID-19

On April 10th 2020 RPM network has had another video conference of its series this time focusing on the topic of “Motorsport Industry post COVID-19, perspectives generated by an organisational culture focusing on business models and business strategy”.

Speakers stimulating debate among the numerous participation of RPM members: Rodi Basso (Technology and business strategy advisor in Motorsport and beyond) and Paolo Aversa (Director of the MBA program at Cass Business School – London and researcher on Motorsport business strategy), moderator Riccardo Paterni.

The focus of the debate has been on approaches to manage at best the challenges set by the current pandemia and shape business development opportunties beyond it. This relates to both changes on organisational internal and external dynamics with the drive to utilise at best the levers of change that we can control.

In such regards external change can be analysed in relation to three factors: magnitude, frequency and predictability (all help us to frame present context and also make at best projections towards the future).

The operational and strategic approach to take focus on 5 key steps: 1) focus on health and safety; 2) focus on consistent meaningful – facts and data based – dialogue with personnel, clients, suppliers, reachable regulatory bodies; 3) focus on strengthening competence relevant to data gather, interpretation and use for decision making; 4) develop methodical ways to plot and shift dynamically different scenarios impacted by key variables; 5) develop the ‘so what?’ Strategic mindset relevant to the scenarios shaping up different business models and set the habit to refocus and refresh the scenarios and linked strategic approaches with a more frequent and consistent timing.

We have dialogued about the fact that this kind of approach can be fundamentally taken by any organisation also the small ones leveraging upon the tools, means and networks that are reachable: it is the entrepreneurial mindset geared towards finding opportunities for growth and development that makes the difference.

In terms of opportunities we have dialogued about three key main areas relevant to the Small and Midsize Enterprises as the ones that form RPM: 1) visibility: it is possible to gain public visibility if we manage to become involved in production of product / services useful to manage the pandemia; 2) time for action: because of the lockdown now more then ever we have the opportunity to focus methodically on strategy development; 3) time for change and evolution: the methodical strategic focus leads companies to better identify and leverage upon the very own competencies. It is important to note that we are not pointing out simply technical competencies, better yet also relational competencies, access to enabling networks, mix of competencies that enable the strategic and operational business in fields technologically related to Motorsport. In this regard we need to remember that Motorsport itself, by its historical roots, sprung technologically and in terms of business development from fields such as automotive, aviation, aerospace.

All in all it was pointed out that any strategy elaboration must leverage itself from the key foundations of vision, mission and values that comprise the unique identity of the organisation and set the essence for its development. Internal and external circumstances may sway the original trajectory but once that the ultimate engaging purpose of the organisation is well clear and defined strategy, through the perspectives above indicated, it becomes generated as a direct consequence.

The debate has continued with some concrete examples on how RPM companies are tackling the current complexities. What emerged is a proactive sense of drive set to find solutions for development leveraging upon consistent dialogue with clients, suppliers, federations.

RPM renews and strengthens its commitment to these strategic developments (essential part of the vision, mission and values set and declared openly since the very beginning of this project ).

We thank Rodi Basso and Paolo Aversa for their inspiring participation to the conference and we are working towards further shaping with them operational ways to implement for RPM members what we debated during the conference.

In the meantime the series of RPM virtual debates will continue with an upcoming conference featuring Pim Van Baarsen CEO of the Silverstone Technology Cluster and Tim Angus RPM representative in the UK. We will learn about the activities the Cluster is organising to face these complex times and learn how we can possibly establish operational and strategic ties with it. Stay tuned for updates.

We thank Cifa Italia for providing the techological tools to enable these RPM conferences.

The Motorsport Industry takes center stage in Academia

The Motorsport Industry is rapidly developing an industrial and managerial influence that goes well beyond the business of racing. This is one of the reasons why it has been introduced on 28th September 2016 at Regent’s University in London within an International Academic Conference organised by the International Academy of Management & Business (the Academy involves scholars and practitioners coming from all over the world, focusing on several research topics that are shaping the present and future of organisational and business development www.iamb.net ).

Riccardo Paterni (Entrepreneur focusing on Motorsport developments at Synergy Pathways), Dr.Tim Angus (Honorary Research Fellow, Center for Business in Society, Coventry University) and Gabriele Testi (Motorsport journalist) have elaborated a presentation illustrating the relevance of the Motorsport Industry in developing knowledge, innovation and know-how that can be shared and applied across various industries.

Riccardo Paterni introducing the presentation
Riccardo Paterni introducing the presentation


Motorsport Value Chain
Motorsport Value Chain

Motorsport empowering management & business development

After a brief introduction relevant to the nature itself of Motorsport as a global business and to its roots historically based mainly in the UK and Italy, the presenter (Riccardo Paterni) has outlined three key concepts relevant to the Motorsport Industry: 1) the substantial amount of know-how that is dynamically produced and utilised because of a unique mix of high level of technological capital investment and highly skilled human capital; 2) the concrete understanding and implementation of innovation; 3) the systematic capability to share know how across industries. Specific case studies have illustrated the concepts.

The first two case studies have featured two Italian companies deeply rooted into Motorsport. Costruzioni Meccaniche Novricom (based in Pontedera – Tuscany) and Ycom (based in Colecchio, close to Parma – Emilia Romagna).

Powerful mix of top technology and top human skills

Costruzioni Meccaniche Novicrom, whom founder Iliano Parrini was a young colleague of Enzo Ferrari in Alfa Romeo well before becoming a Ferrari supplier (since the late ’60). Novicrom develops high precision machine tooling to manufacture small batches components and prototypes. Since its founding in 1947 the company invested 20% of its turnover in technology and at the same time retained a highly skilled, continuously trained, workforce which seniority goes well above 30 years. This unique mixes allowed for a transfer of applied know-how from aviation to Motorsport and from there to more sophisticated aerospace and aviation industries straightening top level presence in motorsport and automotive.

Innovation and the motorsport culture

Ycom, a motorsport manufacturer focusing on the entire project innovation cycle: design, development, carbonfiber, manufacturing, testing and racing. In particular it has been pointed out the capability of the company to accelerate the timing of the innovation process – measured through the Technology Readiness Level developed by NASA – while containing budgets. To illustrate the point it has been selected the project commissioned by Lotus to Ycom relevant to the project of the GTE version of the Evora set for racing at the 24Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship. The case study shows the unique overall motorsport culture driven by a passioned skilled sense of determination to develop innovation: solutions to problems, to effectively generate and sustain performance.

Ycom LOTUS Evora Case Study
Ycom LOTUS Evora Case Study

A flow of knowledge: from racing to pharmaceutical

Last but not least the case study selected to show the hight capability to share motorsport know-how across other fields. McLaren has since been since the ‘70s an innovator in utilising sensors to capture and download data from the racing car in other to elaborate them. McLaren has been one of the first motorsport companies to perceive itself as an overall technology company: the overall McLaren Technology Group concept begins from there and it has evolved since into the current McLaren Applied Technologies. This last company has set up a partnership with the pharmaceutical corporation Glaxo Smith Klein to utilise a much evolved sensor technology to monitor, prevent and manage several health issues. A flowing know-who from tracks to the pharmaceutical industry.

An open forum

A debate has emerged with the generalist academic audience that has come to realise how the Motorsport Industry can represent concretely a conceptual and practical way to improve management and business development methods. This can represent an all new dimension of Motorsport that, no doubt, deserves to be further analysed, understood and applied.


FIRST PART: Motorsport Industry: driving innovation and industry diversification – prima parte

SECOND PART: Motorsport Industry: driving innovation and industry diversification – seconda parte

This way McLaren and Williams are renovating the biomedical industry

These are the ways in which McLaren Advanced Technologies and Williams Engineering are renovating the biomedical industry by utilising F1 know-how. The journalist Gabriele Testi wrote this article for the Italian Edition of motorsport.com , I contributed to write it. These topics will be presented an elaborated in the book fasttrackinnovation.it .



Article (in Italian) Così McLaren e Williams stanno contribuendo a rinnovare l’industria biomedicale


New Global Business Models Enabled by Digital Technologies and Fresh Mindset. Introduction to an upcoming debate.

Digital technologies are multiplying the pace of change and the so called progress. Increasingly we talk about market disruptions, business models that have produced margins and sustainability for years now they keep getting replaced by new ones at a faster and faster pace. A key role that technology has within these dynamics is to boost the speed of the entire process influencing directly the way business models (from producer to user) are set. Interestingly within all of this people’s original ideas and visions still represent the essential sparks and foundations of it all: this is why arguably much before technology open visionary mindsets are relevant to progressive changes. We will debate about these topics from several perspectives during a debate held as part to the 2016 edition (the 7th one) of the University of Pisa International MBA.


This is an interesting article just published (March 2016) on McKinsey Quarterly “The essentials of digital strategy” , it points out in a clear way several new possibilities and opportunities shaped up by all of this.

The companies involved in the debate will introduce projects that are underway and that are leveraging upon both fresh mindsets with a global projection and the latest digital technologies enabling it all.

Creativity, managing around barriers towards innovation

Increasingly we focus on why organisations fail to develop creativity and this article shows an interesting summary on the topic “How We Kill Creativity (And How We Can Rebuild It)” also represented by the image below:


There are two key aspects that emerge from the article and that need to be addressed.

1) Creativity regarding organisational processes and outcomes is never developed in a vacuum: it does’t happen because one single ‘genius’. It is rather a factor of many elements that come to integrate: people, technology, context, internal and external direct or indirect inputs;

2) Creativity turns into innovation only when concretely solves problems and/or creates value recognised by the market.

Because of this, in order to maximise their potential to create and mostly to innovate (that is what really counts for enterprises), organisations cannot afford vacuums dedicated to creativity and innovation has to be the target. This requires an overall aware and skilled cultural approach to develop creativity and concretely innovate. It is a cultural approach, involving the overall organisation considering its processes and people, that requires a central focus to develop innovation, a focus that is one of the key principles articulated in FAST TRACK INNOVATION fasttrackinnovation.it  by pointing out and elaborating over actual examples of Motorsport and automotive organisations.

An additional kind of innovation for Motorsport survival and growth

Tonight, at the Motorsport Industry Association Business (MIA) Awards Ceremony, MIA President Chris Aylett made an inspiring speech.

January 14th 2016, Chris Aylett, MIA President, addressing the Motorsport Industry Association Awards ceremony
January 14th 2016, Chris Aylett, MIA President, addressing the MIA Awards ceremony within the AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL event

He pointed out the health of the Motorsport Industry Research & Development (30% of turnover, way ahead of any other field) at the same time he stresses the relevance of dynamic entertainment to involve the younger generation. To such scope he referred to an idea stimulated during meetings and conferences with professionals from the tech and marketing areas alike: if fans had access to live performance (human and technological) data and information interest possibly could be risen also among the all relevant younger generations. One of many ideas that need to be developed around the key realization that Motorsport depends on fans active participation no matter what …

Innovation in Manufacturing: from the ‘dumb hard’ to the ‘smart soft’ that requires soft skills

Innovation relates directly to the concrete and effective expression of creativity: creativity that solves problems and suits the market willing to pay for it. Innovation is quite plain and simple from this pragmatic perspective.

In many ways innovation is a trial-and-error process in which many creative efforts need to be developed through given parameters of resources. Parameters and resources that often limit the creative effort and, as a direct consequence, the concrete generation of innovation itself.

Within these kinds of dynamics things are bound to change and change fast, actually they are changing already, within innovation in manufacturing. We are witnessing a ‘paradigm shift’: conceptually the development of fundamental changes in the way we generate and process ideas to make things.


More specifically we are in the midst of what scientists are beginning to call a ‘golden age’ for materials: decades of scientific research in the fields of physics and chemistry are today coming to fruition into lighter, stronger, more malleable materials, allowing for many more creative developments much easier to implement. The key aspect is that those materials allow for tens of thousands of combinations generating tens of thousands of different materials (according to the current Economist Technology Quarterly: ‘New materials for new manufacturing’) even 60.000 reached in simulation, bound to become 100.000 within five years. Because of this, scientists begin to talk about the ‘materials genome’. Specifically carbon is the material that best suits the role to feed and develop so many different combinations because of its characteristics.

Automotive and Motorsport radical manufacturing changes

As the Economist Technology Quarter points out, the applications are basically endless. Within the field of high-performance automotive, BMW has been investing heavily and purposefully on this and the top performance electric models BMW i3 and i8 show it. In the US a special laboratory, developed through the network of several research centres, has manufactured in six weeks (from design to assembly) a replica of the 1960 Shelby Cobra. Weight 227 kilos made 80% polymer and 20% carbon fibre. On the same wavelength, recently the company Vitesse AuDessus manufactured a replica of the Ferrari F12tdf totally made of carbon fibre with substantial reduction in weight above an beyond the unique looks ‘Full Carbon Fiber Body For Ferrari F12tdf Is Drop-Dead Gorgeous’and the inevitable influence on vehicle performance dynamics and possibly even safety. Following a not-too-futuristic development of these changes new ‘smart manufacturing materials’ are bound to impact Motorsport too. A recent article published on Race Car Engineering ‘The living skin’ outlines new developments within these ‘smart materials’: in very elementary terms, materials which sturdiness concurrent to intelligent flexibility (related to the dynamic context) is going to go well beyond the one utilised today on racing cars aerodynamics. The concept of chassis itself might change because of these developments setting whole new reference points and standards in the field of vehicle dynamics. The bodywork itself can increasingly feature the use of composite materials wiring establishing and enhancing an overall vehicle real time computation dynamic source of useful data and information. This might be set to increase performance, safety and the like. All of this eventually is bound to be featured also in mass market automotive production.

Time to use Einstein’s true sign of intelligence 

Within this new manufacturing paradigm of ‘smart new soft materials’ the creative effort itself is turned upside-down: no longer are the materials and their characteristics to set manufacturing capabilities and restrain ideas; are ideas that conceive new realities projecting the use of new materials characteristics, new materials that can be developed in accordance to identified performance and manufacturing specifications. Therefore the concrete innovation exercise is potentially easier to reach and it all depends on the ability to imagine new realities. This is the kind of soft skill that even Albert Einstein envisioned to be a key driving force: ‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination’. We possibly are more then ever empowered to pursuit this to the fullest. The journey has just begun, let’s pursue it at the very fullest!

Formula-e live from Donington. Ever stronger focus on performance, efficiency and entertainment followed from Mahindra and Mahindra Racing perspective.


I am currently following (from the comfortable media center above the pit lane compared to the breeze that has been blowing outdoors since early morning) the last day of Formula-e preseason testing in Donington while working on interviews and research relevant to the book FAST TRACK INNOVATION #fasttrackbook .


Going well beyond unique technological challenges

Formula-e, since its very inception, has been driven by focus on sustainability, efficiency and innovation from several points of view that go even beyond the all fundamental technological one. The series has become an example of a new way (better say refreshed, back to original roots) to bring new energy to the relationship among fans and a global Motorsport championship.

As a global Motorsport series it is no doubt more reacheble then many other series and it makes easier for fans to interact with world popular drivers (even former F1 world champions as Jacques Villeneuve) among other competitive drivers that perceive racing here as a way to revamp their image or to develop their career. The process is helped by the fact that the series is becoming ever more competitive from a technical and sporting point of view and at the same time is rapidly multiplying its media global following. Besides watching that starting grid grandstand and quite full in a breeze morning is quite revealing.


Performance, efficiency, entertainment

This championship is driven by a marked continuously renewed focus on factors that need to be integrated dynamically while the bar of relevant standards is being pushed higher and higher: efficiency, performance, entertainment.

This is all very attractive for the automotive and Motorsport community alike for several reasons, all of them having to do with the concept of sustainability through innovative synergic integrations of: visions, resources, cross pollination among various technological fields, talents (even race driving is very much redefined here) and know-how relevant to engineering as well as to anything that pertains to communication and media.


Automotive and Motorsport innovation interplay: Mahindra’s case

Mahindra from a corporate point of view is integrating forces with Mahindra Racing on these kind of dynamics with a technological interplay between automotive (Mahindra Reva is one of the very first electric car global projects that now is set in an evolutionary path related to higher performance) and track racing focusing more and more in rising the standards of being dependable, efficient (the Reva project has inspired much of the early and last season work on this) and reaching higher performance within the power cap set by the rules of the series.

On top of this there is the overall key focus on media and communication that Mahindra is generating in relation to projects that at the corporate level aim to define and implement an all new way of looking, creating and experiencing mobility (sustainability, efficiency and practicality are some key stepping stones on this); Mahindra Racing integrates powerfully all of this with a particular focus on developing an higher level of active involvement from fans that at present are for the great majority simply viewers. This goes also to the very roots of an extremely needed and deserved process of Indian Motorsport proper and more widespread development.

All of this will be further developed within the book integrating experiences of automotive and Motorsport projects and activities on a global scale that belong to history, present and future of automotive and Motorsport innovation interplay.

Interviewing Chetan Maini (Reva founder and R&D Head) in Bangalore last January (he is also an active board member and technology reference to Mahindra Racing), Dilbagh Gill (CEO & Team Principal Mahindra Racing) and B.Karthik (VP Corporate Brand Management Mahindra) here in Donington has been a quite unique and inspirational experience that will have a marked influence on the book.

No doubt India should be very proud of the multifaceted and far reaching developments that Mahindra has in place within its visionary path.


Motorsport survival & growth: innovation on four factors bridging past and future

The link between innovation and Motorsport has been typically associated with the technological developments that increase performance and safety. Often, throughout recent decades, top level championships have been working as a challenging and effective research & development testing field. Several topics related to energy efficiency and preservation have been addressed by Motorsport regulatory technical boards, sometimes attracting interest and investments by major automotive manufacturers: at stake not only the technological research but also the brand association with a more sustainable way to conceive not simply automotive but mobility overall.

Jim Clark on Lotus 49... once upon a time...
Jim Clark on Lotus 49… once upon a time…

The Motorsport sustainability model: four factors

It is a matter of fact that Motorsport in order to survive and possibly grow (within an ever changing social, economic and market dynamics), cannot look at a sustainability operational model only from innovations linked to technology (no matter the amount of investments made by major manufactures), there are also at least three other factors that require dynamic innovations in order to make the overall Motorsport operational model sustainable: business, entertainment and passion for the sport (simply stated in alphabetical order).

While working on the research for a new book ( www.fasttrackinnovation.it ), I have been reading many first hand accounts related to the developments of Motorsport during the last 50 years and with colleagues I have integrated this with direct interviews to key players from the frontline or behind the scenes. So far we have been focusing mainly on the European context branching out into the USA and Indian ones. All of this has brought me to further appreciate the times (60s, 70s) when the equation of the four factor appeared to be set, in my opinion, along this order of relevance: passion for the sport, business, entertainment and technology.

Without passion no teams, manufacturers and drivers alike would have contributed to developing the popularity of the sport to date. Ferrari arose from a sense of passion rooted in the early car racing within Modena and its surrounding areas. Within Britain the Motorsport Valley arose from that passion that made overcome the necessity to squeeze at best all of the resources available to compete at the best possible levels. This passion fueled the rise of business and eventually an industry related to Motorsport.

Business in itself required to keep attracting attention and capitals from investors (back them mostly related to the automotive industry itself), hence the focus not only on technological advances (which pace of development was in relative terms much slower than the current one) but also on entertainment. Actually, it was important to manage at best this entertainment factor edging between gruesome danger claiming many lives (before Jackie Stewart’s determination to lobby to concretely improve safety) and glamour (back then Montecarlo was truly the top of game on this). Technology had no doubt its part but overall its influence was quite relative at a time when the influence of pure mechanics came ahead of rising aerodynamics concepts and the concept of applied electronics was still in its very early infancy to say the least.

Within all of this framework I found quite timely and intriguing a Motor Sport Magazine August 2015 Editorial by the title ‘From Jim Clark to Formula E’http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/magazine/from-the-editor/from-jim-clark-to-formula-e/ . It articulates the link between two extremely different Motorsport eras, yet eras that once again necessarily have to deal with the same four factors: business, entertainment, passion and technology. Innovation is needed within the overall business operational model featuring these four building blocks. At stake is the overall sustainability of Motorsport itself.

Innovating the four factors to sustain survival and growth

To innovate it means to develop creative ideas (not necessarily original, they can also represent a marked evolution from previous ones or ideas integrally coming from different fields) into concrete results. As Formula E exemplifies, innovation in technology is already in action fueled by overall technology sustainability and branding focuses by major automotive players. In my opinion key innovations are needed within the dynamics of the other three components that are all integrated and interlocked depending on a single key element: reignite the passion for the sport by target audiences.

There are many social, demographic and economic factors that lowered and are lowering that passion; yet it all can be related to a lessening of the entertainment appeal. Racing can still be quite thrilling and exciting (without lowering the safety standards that arguably have at time reached levels of excesses at the expense of the sport), yet nowadays are passion for the sport and entertainment the actual factors of focus for a sustainable business development? Within these dynamics there is the need to outline a model visionary enough to overcome the short term focus creating an overall sustainability well beyond the short term. Innovations relevant to the factors that have the most leveraging power for sustainability need to be implemented.

The right kind of leveraging?

I came to similar conclusions last year when I had the privilege to participate and enjoy a program that allows fans to fuel that passion by lapping at Daytona tri-oval with a Nascar (after that I have come to appreciate that racing on ovals is not simply making boring rounds! At this link a report on the experience…http://www.riccardopaterni.it/always-new-fun-challenge-this-time-lapping-at-daytona-with-nascar-at-265-kmh/ ). This is an example of innovation in programs that keep enriching fans’ passion (the program I attended begun a few years back yet no doubt represented a targeted innovation with specific industrial and commercial investments).

In addition, still in Daytona, I saw with my own surprised eyes the focus on making it easier for fans to access track entertainment: high-tech elevators being built to reach the top of the imposing world famous checkered grandstands: the show easy to reach (and at alluring prices). It does not matter if many of us observe that within the USA racing scene technological innovation is basically not existent from our European perspective. Passion for the sport is fuelled as well as entertainment and this makes it more concrete and reachable to develop a business model that, among unavoidable up and downs, keeps Motorsport as a sport and an industry in continuos development in the USA.

Is this the right kind of leveraging power to be utilized also in Europe? The debate is no doubt wide ranging, yet resolutive action overrides many of the sterile debates we are often so effective in articulating.


The culture of winning in F1. Effective organizational interdependence is once again in the making between McLaren and Honda?

Soichiro Honda was truly fond of Ayrton Senna and Ayrton had the utmost respect for him. Both of them had strong personalities that managed not to clash; rather they channeled energy and determination toward a common goal: winning and doing it in their own unique ways, many times risking everything, all of nothing sort of mindset, yet always learning and improving. In such regard it is significant one of Mr. Honda most popular quote has always been: Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called failure.

Soichiro Honda and Ayrton Senna
Soichiro Honda and Ayrton Senna

This has set the DNA of Honda as a company focusing on consistent innovation along unexplored pathways. Because of all of this it should come to no surprise what the McLaren – Honda team has been struggling with during the beginning of the current Formula 1 season. As described recently within the pages of the authoritative AUTOSPORT, Honda has gone radical while confronting the massive challenges and opportunities of the new Formula 1 hybrid engines regulations “Technical insight: Honda’s radical Formula 1 engine for McLaren” .

Besides, and this is another Honda organisational culture characteristic, the Japanese manufacturer has always preferred to develop know-how from the inside rather than importing it from the outside. In other words: there is method to their work, yet it is their very own method, it is their own way to work, test, explore, develop and apply knowledge. All of this can turn out to be either apparently messy from the outsider and/or time consuming at least in the early phases of a project development. Challenges and risks are probably tackled keeping in mind Soichiro Honda lessons. It is to be remembered that Mr.Hondas way, after many leaning-in-the-process failures, at last prevailed developing from nothing one of the most important automotive organisations in the world.

This is Honda DNA set to integrate with the McLaren one. During the last 30 years McLaren boss, Ron Dennis, has shaped an organizational culture characterizing it  by a relentless focus on winning. Winning through an organizational through a methodical, meticulous, almost paranoid organizational approach focusing on details; no much room for experimentation. To note that McLaren-Honda has scored utmost success during the late 80s and early 90s and this has been possibly the inspiring power to this renewed partnership.

Since then F1 has changed in many ways: everything is more complex, more challenging from a technical and managerial perspective, massive yearly investments in technology and marketing have overpowered the sport while little room has been left to actual experimentation and risk taking on the field (it is a matter of fact that today actual tests on track have been reduced to the very limit and by now it is more an entertainment vehicle to make money rather than a sport, hence its current struggles for identity and survival). Given this context Mr. Honda would have probably not even taken the F1 challenge, the current Honda management has decided otherwise and not they are tackling the challenge their own way.

McLaren Honda MP4-30
McLaren Honda MP4-30

The clash of cultures between McLaren and Honda has been at first simmering and then progressively rampant since the beginning of the new joint project (and it has all become even more quirky and mysterious with the still not fully explained Alonso crash at Barcellona during a preseason testing session) while results have been in dismal. Yet as recently pointed out by Eric Boullier (McLaren team Racing Director) McLaren itself has begun to learn to understand Hondas DNA and this has contributed to a perception of marked progress and concrete potential of the overall team still among dismal performances. As recently reported in AUTOSPORT “McLaren F1 team making strides in its understanding with Honda”

Soichiro Honda strong character has no doubt left a legacy within the company, McLaren seems to make the best out of this to reach the level of performance it consistently aims to. We will see the results; it is a very interesting process to follow. If McLaren will manage to keep in line the focus on the overall operational processes while Honda manages to express the best of its strength (technology in engines and making sure to not fail again into the chronic and eventually eroding lack of performance that characterized the life of its own team during the mid 2000s) surprising results could come soon.

To note also that Alonso and Button (even if they actually are working as a team) possibly do not have the team involving and contagious passion for a relentless quest of unique excellence that Ayrton a Senna and Soichiro Honda shared during the glorious world championship winning seasons.

Fernando Alonso and Janson Button
Fernando Alonso and Janson Button

Nevertheless, since in  organizations it is always awareness and interdependence of strengths from several parties that produces and reaffirms success, McLaren and Honda might have the ingredients to do that and might have begun moving in the right direction.

Eric Builler and Yasuhisa Arai
Eric Builler and Yasuhisa Arai

Stay tuned for thoughts regarding this intriguing developing story: soon we will share some reflections regarding the unique role that Eric Builler has in all of these dynamics and why only a person carrying his character and professional skills can spearhead an effective winning interdependence among McLaren and Honda very distinct organizational cultures.

An unfolding update to the story from Autosport on July 15th 2015: “Honda will not hire outside help to boost F1 effort with McLaren”  pointing out once more that Honda wants to develop the project without hiring any outside help. On one side this can slow the development process pace, on the other one it can strengthen the capability to achieve and sustain success in the mid to longer term. Now the plot thickens here: will it ever be a long term commitment to the project by Honda top people? The company seems to be more involved than ever to fend off issues related to automotive technical and, it is todays’ news, also financial services troubles in the USA “Honda to pay $24 million for discriminatory lending”. Overall this is not helping at all not only the balance sheets but also, and may be more relevant, the brand. How does F1 current troubles play within all of this? The legendary Sochiro Honda is no longer around to push ideas and action with his steely vision and determination and at the same time Bouiller is quite vocal also with the media (or may be mostly with the media) on pressing Honda to perform. I bet that things will unfold in a definitive direction or the other by F1 season’s end.