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Theissen on Small Teams

Mario Theissen has returned to the theme of “small is beautiful”, repeating his intention that the BMW team will not grow into a huge operation, as so many of the successful teams do. Historically in F1, this is the way to go, smaller teams being more flexible and able to react to change faster than the big ones.


Mario Theissen

This may be at the heart of the problems confronting teams like Honda and Toyota, their overabundance of funding meaning that they can invest in so many facilities that confusion rather than focused development is the result. There is also that old theme of mine to be considered: passion. It is easier to inspire a few people with a single vision than a big operation with many departments and localities.

BMW seem to be getting everything right at the moment. Even though they remain very realistic, as is clear from Nick Heidfeld’s recent interview, they are clearly the team with the best chance of competing with the front runners, Ferrari and McLaren. If anyone is capable of beating those two this year, it must be BMW.

It has to be said that the reason for the effectiveness of the BMW team is Theissen himself. He is a model of the successful F1 team manager, being able to direct his personnel in a common direction, provide vision without straying into fantasy and dealing with the press without drama. Compare the turmoil and personnel changes in a crisis of Nick Fry’s Honda team with the steady, unflappable improvement at BMW Sauber. Any team becomes a reflection of its leader and the Honda management should make Ross Brawn an offer he can’t refuse if they want to get their team moving forward.

It’s a philosophy that all the manufacturers should consider. The corporate direction of an F1 team just doesn’t work, as has been demonstrated so often. Mercedes have had it right, although I detect a move towards greater involvement of management in McLaren’s affairs, and FIAT have had the sense to let Ferrari get on with it, until recently, at least. If Toyota and Honda finally get the idea, watch out!

This year has seen some big changes in the teams, with established stars departing and new faces appearing in many places. Looking further ahead, we may actually be witnessing one of those changes of era that come along perhaps once a decade. If BMW continue their drive to the front and McLaren and Ferrari suffer a decline caused by greater interference from their attached manufacturers, the whole shape of the grid could alter over the next few years. Is it possible that the battles of the “two thousand and something teens” will be between BMW and Williams-Toyota? And McLaren seriously embarrassed by the greater success of their B team, Prodrive; perhaps Ferrari in another period of chaos and internal conflict?

There is one thing for sure: change will always happen – it’s the only thing you can depend upon.

6 Responses to “Theissen on Small Teams”

  1. We can only hope that after the bimmers win their first constructors championship, they stay in F1 for a long long time.

    They can be whatever size they want, the fact is those damn germans know how to race… and those japs with oversized pockets can’t. Apparently they can only drift. And that’s a good thing: who want’s to see Rofl suddenly winning races? ;)

  2. Yes, let’s hope they stay – they’re getting to be the kind of outfit it would be a great pity to lose.

    Ah, the Japanese and their love of overpowered rear wheel drive cars – comes of being occupied by the Americans for so long after the war, I suppose. Europe was converted to front wheel drive during the sixties and so has forgotten the delights of sideways cornering. Watching those videos, however, it seems that plenty of young Japanese haven’t quite got the hang of it yet – some expensive repair work required after some of those races, methinks!

  3. That seems to be a huge slide for the big boys. It seems more likely that BMW and possibly Red Bull and Williams(next year) might be able to catch up, but they wont be as consistent.

    I think drifting might be one of those sports like ping-pong. Its more fun to do then to watch. But you have to admit though, the Japs can build a hell of a road going car. Unfortunately, here in the states we only get the castrated versions. I would love to get my hands on ’02 RX-7! Unlike us Americans, its not all about pure Cubic Inches, they manage some amazing power from very little package. Add in RWD and a 9000RPM(S2000) rev limit and you wouldn’t be able to keep the smile off your face.

  4. Yes, it looks unlikely at the moment, Dan, but there was once a time when we couldn’t imagine a GP grid without Lotus, Brabham or Tyrrell. Even if Ferrari and McLaren don’t slip back a little, it would be great to see BMW, Red Bull and Williams battling with them on equal terms.

    I agree, the Japanese build some great cars. And getting plenty of power from little screamers is something of an art form in Europe too. There’s something about the thumping sound of a great big American V8 however…

  5. Im not sure how to set up a link correctly but this is worth watching. Its about 5min long. The beginning and the end are amazing to watch, if you thought the stewards at F1 races are out of there mind watch these guys.

    Dan’s link

  6. Yup, those guys (and gals) are definitely certifiable. Only in Japan… :D

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