Life Plan

How motorsport firms easily leverage expertise and knowledge from and to other sectors

Motorsport engineering firms are well known for their technical expertise and project management skills, particularly in the latter case around their speed of working. Their technical expertise comes from dealing at the cutting edge of science and technology in areas as diverse as light-weighting, electronics and thermal management for example. Motorsport firms also exemplify leading edge project management capabilities given the rapid turnaround of the motorsport timetable. In this case the latest technical developments are needed not next year or next month, but usually the next week or even the next day,

Facts from history

Over the history of motorsport in the post war era, there are many examples where motorsport firms have taken a leading edge technology from another industry, for example aerospace, and developed it rapidly and effectively for use in motorsport. Think, for example, of Dunlop disc brakes on Jaguar sports cars in the 1950s or McLaren’s use of composites in monocoque chassis construction in the early 1980s (link to aerospace through Hercules Industries).

F1 McLaren’s MP4/1 in 1981 – picture credits to Red Lobster

There has always been a debate within the motorsport industry whether new technology is invented within motorsport or whether motorsport engineering is less about the pure science of invention and more about the adaption of existing technologies for specific use within motorsport.

Project management and technical expertise leverage

We would like to suggest instead that over the last decade or so, it is the key competence that motorsport firms have in their project management skills , as much as it is it is about their blue sky technical expertise.

As we mentioned above, the extremely demanding timescales of motorsport, particularly at the upper echelons of professional motorsport, require firms to work to very short timescales that larger firms cannot reach or even aspire to. The demands of new developments for the next race, which is not next year, but next weekend, have developed a culture of working, together with advanced project management skills that have become a key selling point for the capabilities of motorsport firms.

The link with OEM and Universities

Increasingly, in a business environment where project delivery requirements become ever faster, it is these skills which motorsport firms are selling into other key industry sectors. Think of the rapidly changing environment in the automotive industry, for example, where light-weighting, hybrid engine technologies and electric power and storage are being forced along at an ever increasing rate by regulators and customers.

The ability of large OEMs to produce basic R&D in these areas, often in cooperation with leading Universities may satisfy one area of the product cycle. But before going to market OEMs are in need of firms to conduct low production run prototypes, to test the new technology, before moving to large scale production runs and going to market.

Ready to leverage on your key business asset?

Low production run prototypes, produced on short timescales with high technological content, doesn’t that sound like the average day in the life of a motorsport firm to you?We are ready to stimulate and participate to the debate with motorsport industry organisations by actively and methodically supporting this flow of knowledge as a key business asset.

by Tim Angus and Riccardo Paterni

Posted in: Innovation

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Change made possible by brain plasticity

Change or Die : the research, the article and the relevant book are over 10 years old, yet the topic is ever relevant: #change is no longer an option, is no-other-way one-way path.

Synaptic Development

We need to realise that we can be in control of it, rather than being victim of it, by leveraging on natural aspects as #brainplasticity and tools as #framing and #reframing #thinking and #communication

Posted in: Talent Development

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Motorsport and advanced healthcare solutions: a faster and faster race

A few days ago an innovative solution has been presented to transport safely and swiftly newborns  during emergencies via means of terrestrial or airborne transportation. The baby carrier, named ‘BabyPod 20’ has ben developed by Williams Advanced Engineering. The project has been developed in cooperation with Advance Healthcare Technology (AHT) that has been present within this specific manufacturing field for years.

The ‘Baby Pod 20’

This project recalls other ones in which healthcare has been benefiting by expertise and technologies originating from Motorsport. Some of these projects have been recently presented an even organised by SGINetwork (a scientific innovation development hub) where McLaren Applied Technologies pointed out several projects that have been developed by them (one of the first one was carried forward in cooperation with Glaxo).

Once again innovation in the healthcare field has been generated from Motorsport as we have pointed out in an article we wrote months ago ‘Motorsport Industry, Innovation and Knowledge Sharing Across Industries’ linked o a presentation we made in September 2016 within a conference held at Regent’s University in London.

Not only technology but also organisational processes developed on track have been found very useful to improve healthcare processes as pointed out in this real life example ‘F1 Pit Stop Techniques To Help Save Lives in Resuscitation of Newborn Babies’ .

While working on the research relevant to the book Fast Track Innovation we are finding other projects linking Motorsport know-how to advanced healthcare systems: projects that have been brought forward even many years ago, by companies much smaller than Williams and McLaren yet technically extremely effective.

Many Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) within the Motorsport Industry can fully take advantage of know-how that they already have and that they can convey (in an aware methodical way), recognised value added within other fields, not only healthcare. Stay tuned …

Posted in: Innovation

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The leveraging power of the humanities becomes stronger in a technological world

An article published on latest July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review, titled “Liberal Arts in the Data Age” and authored by JM Olejarz points out how the humanities can have a driving role within the imagination needed to channel the potential of technologies; technologies that by now are growing at a faster and faster pace with increasing market impacts in a wider range of fields.

The famous quote by Albert Einstein “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand” creates a framework for this fine balance and synergy between imagination and technology.

Erik Kim recently wrote a blog article entitled “10 lessons Pablo Picasso can teach you” and quite interestingly he lists a series of actual tools that have been utilised by the artists to develop his masterpieces and that nowadays can represent actual ways to drive such technological developments.

In my opinion this represents a fundamental perspective that enlightens the increasing relevance of the human factor within a changing world strongly impacted by change fuelled by Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and other systemic approaches that appear to sideline people.

This entire topic is up for a necessary debate from many different perspectives.

Posted in: Innovation, Talent Development

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APPLYING FUNCTIONAL PSYCHOLOGY TO REACH THE VERY BEST OF THE OWN DRIVING POTENTIAL

An interview with the experienced Motorsport Psychologist, Lorenzo Baldassarri (he has been working with several racing drives competing in series spanning from karting to F1) relevant to his innovative and effective drivers’ mental training program.

You have been working with Motorsport drivers racing in karts at the international level as well as in single-seaters series all the way up to F1. Given your studies and direct on-the-field experiences, what are the three factors that make the functional psychology approach so suitable for the field?

During the last few years I have been working with young kart drivers, learning about many situations in which a young person makes the first steps in Motorsport.

For example I remember fondly the work done with Charles Leclerc when he started to race in kart.

The work with professional drivers at Motorsport’ top level is different. Among some of them I have been working with, Markus Eriksson in F1, all of the drivers of the BMW DTM and Hayden Paddon for for concerns rallies. 

I would like to summarise the model that I utilise while preparing such athletes, it is called Functional Psychology and it is characterised by three elements: it is a modern psychological theory, very scientific and pragmatic, integrating psychological and physiological aspects, in other words Functional Psychology does not utilise simply words to intervene, better yet works at the cognitive, emotional, physiological and postural / muscular level; the second important factor is relevant to the practical tools that the driver can utilise when necessary during the race; the third factor is that it does not simply focus on motivational or behavioural issues: it interacts with personality deep functional factors that allow for lasting results making the driver autonomous and strong in the way he manages his/her resources. This is a key aspect of the program: making sure that the driver acquires a sense of aware and constructive self-reliance while managing delicate situations on track and off track.

Often key racing moments, as for example, race-starts bear excessive psychological pressure that influences negatively performance, have you dealt with it while working with drivers? what were the results? why?

I work with the driver for two specific situation: the key moments and the overall management of the race (considering that for a driver also the pre-race phase is also very important). 

Pressure is no doubt one of the factor that can influence negatively the performance of a driver. It is possible to find several aspects of it to deal specifically with: pressure perceived during pre-race (performance anxiety); during specific moments as for example the start; pressure that increases during the race because the driver is not able to manage the unfolding events handling at best his/her emotions and energy; in addition what I define pressure extra-race meaning the one that relates to relations with sponsors, ambition to always be at the very top, family, media, progress within the career ladder and so forth. 

Through my Action Procedural Protocol we proceed to build or strengthen the inner capabilities of a driver that are needed to manage at best such levels of pressure and stress being of inner or outer origin. The results reached through this program are excellent because they do not relate simply to a motivational or cognitive work, better yet we operate on the fundamental working of the overall mind-body system that are needed to react in an optimal way to pressure such as: calmness, consistency (that means to believe in ourselves and our skills), letting to (a concrete skill relevant to relaxing), the power of calmness (the underlining strength that makes us feel that we can overcome difficulties or endure through difficult situations) in addition to other aspects. In any case the drivers get used to utilise at best those underling capabilities that become aspects expressed automatically and tending to be eventually self-managed.

Do you use any specific tools while working with drivers? What is their function on the overall process?

Within the Procedural Protocol that I have created for the training of athletes several tools and machines are utilised, for example: measuring psychological and physiological variables, concentration improvement, tools to manage energy and body. 

Tools supporting the Functional Psychology approach

The real Innovation of the program consists in what are called: Functional Techniques. The Functional Techniques (that can be utilised correctly only by Functional Psychologists) are specific action relevant to the psyche and body through which we proceed to improve and boost the power of the above mentioned overall underling factors, in other words the aspects from which depend our behaviours, our potentialities and our limits.

In your experience does the approach work best with younger drivers or age is not a factor?

The Procedural Protocol has the relevant characteristic to fit any single driver depending on the very own unique characteristics, age being a key factor, and in relation to his/her specific needs. Specifically for what concerns young drivers I believe it is more correct to talk about ‘personal overall athletic growth’ rather then simply mental training. These young people are at the beginning of their career and what they can acquire from a physiological and physical point of view by working on themselves will create solid foundations that are going to last throughout their lives inside and outside the track. 

For what concerns drivers that are already within an adulthood we can talk about pure mental training. Those drivers already have a set mental structure developed through the years, and for that, for the majority of the cases the work that we perform concerns only the optimisation of physiological – physical management of resources. At the same time if an athlete has never gone thorough a professional mental training (obviously valid and scientific) will never be able to express of his/her potentialities even while reaching the top levels of a given sport!

Does this approach contribute to performance improvements that go also beyond the racing tracks?

I take advantage of this question to clarify a key issue: going through a mental training, even if solid and scientific does not guarantee winning on track. There are other factors at play: talent, vehicle, driving technique. At the same time I can state that a marked improvement of the mental program, even reaching consistent wins, has happened to drivers that we have worked with.

What is a key piece of advice that you would give to any driver that is determined to develop a long lasting, high performance, career?

Certainly to work on their abilities to manage energy. Too often we face activities, most of all if high level ones, thinking that our resources are endless, that we will be able to endure physical challenges, workloads, pressure and stress. In reality such abilities are not endless: mind and body (that always work together in great connection) are subject to wear and tear, efforts, we can get chronic stress illnesses, turning into medical consequences (it can even happen that we are no longer able to feel if we are tired or not). 

All of this if we want lasting careers, in which to obtain satisfactory results and wins, is a factor that must be taken into consideration!

Synergy Pathways Motorsport Academy partners with Lorenzo Baldassarri and his colleagues at Eljos to develop the career of racing drivers.

Posted in: Talent Development

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