Mercedes, psychologist and staff energy

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Today’s story reminds me of the old school way of turning a negative into a positive during an interview. You remember the question, right? You’re sitting at the table and the interviewer asks, “what would you say is one of your weaknesses or short comings?”

If you had the right advice, you’re answer was, “I think one of my weaknesses is that I am a workaholic and work too hard and too much.” All jest aside, Mercedes as employed psychologists to help them balance the maximum energy level from their staff and the program to ensure that everyone is always working at their optimum without burnout or complacency. Team boss Toto Wolff said:

“I don’t think complacency was ever a factor within our team, because the group is very motivated and we set objectives together that we are passionate about,” explained Wolff.

“It is more about how can you maintain those levels of energy.

“Sometimes a level of energy can become unhealthy and that is an area that we are putting a lot of effort into in order to be able to continuously perform at these levels.

“As an organisation we are looking at the working environment.

“We are looking at nutrition, at sleep, at medical support, at sports, and we are looking at giving days off, sending people home, if we feel they are not in a good frame of mind.

“We are looking at psychologists, at mindfulness at the team. I could speak here for another hour and say what we are doing.”

So they work too hard, too long and are too dedicated to their craft? Actually, you could see where that could be the case given the strenuous work and hours it takes to not only achieve the championship but repeat it…five times.

The challenge is that everyone has a limit and there comes a point in time when your dedication is a noble trait but if you are beyond the limit, you are less effective or sharp. A team like Mercedes or any F1 team could be so focused on winning that they ignore a work-life balance that ensures that when they are on the clock, their output and productivity is at its maximum. In short, how best to maintain the energy levels needed to win again.

“In a modern advanced organisation like a sports team that is travelling to 21 grands prix every year, you need to be aware that the humans are your key resource,” he said.

“It is not about the one that talks [to the media] and speaks to the car, or the one that sits in the car. It is the 1800 that sit in the background and have to perform every single day and have to be better than the opposite number in the other team.

“We have to look after them and us.”

It’s a high stakes game, this Formula 1 and when a team like Mercedes pours the kind of money it does into the program, they must ensure that everyone is at their maximum and no one is burnt out. According to the article, Mercedes has most employees focused on one particular area or trade specialists instead of an office full of people who are not just a jack-of-all-trades.

As much as the driver has to find the motivation each year, after winning multiple titles, the team does as well and Toto knows that all teams have eventually waned in their dominance but Mercedes has a secret weapon and that a formula that was practically designed for them and the baked-in advantage they have has staved off challengers for five years.

Regardless, Toto does seem to want complacency to set in and as that advantage begins the shrink, the room for human error could tip the scales. If you give Ferrari the slightest gap, they may pass you just as Ferrari did this year and Mercedes capitalized on it.

At this point, Renault should hire psychologists to teach their employees the same thing but also teach them how to demoralize the Mercedes employees when they see them in the paddock. You know, talk about their homes and families a lot.

If Emma sees Bill from Mercedes, she could show him pictures of his home town, ask how his mother is doing and tell him she heard that his neighbors were running a crack house out of the home right next to his. Just a thought. F1 could turn into the psych wars and why not? Hey, Mercedes guy, I heard your gran twisted her ankle, how’s she doing?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Great article. Ferrari should try this with their media!


Reading two of your articles has brought me to the logical solution. The psychologist from Mercedes should work with F-1 principals on rule changes. Being involved in racing at various disciplines and levels, I can see this play out. I would glady offer assistance: yes, put 10% alcohol in to the fuel. It will run much cooler. In order to compensate for increased consumption, increase tie pressures to 50 psi. Your welcome. Cold day in hell that I give away my hard earned and expensive R&D for free. Ahh… how small of me. I am sure that Toto will start… Read more »


I remember the movie, The Natural, when Redford bemoans the mumbo-jumbo of the psychologist…