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F1 team principals: That are they and what do they do?

Desire to turn into a Formula 1 team principal? Well, current evidence indicate that when youre white, male, somewhere within 50 and 70 and German can be your home language, youll be set.

Okay, so perhaps its not probably the most diverse band of individuals heading up the 10 teams that currently constitute the Formula 1 field. But at the very least you can find no fixed CV requirements for landing one of these brilliant coveted but challenging roles.

As youll learn in this post, its good with an engineering background and an understanding of how teams run but former racers, skilled management types and hard-nosed businesspeople may also be desirable. Also it would appear that when youre all the above, youll go far in the team leadership game.

Lets meet who’ve done exactly that and have a closer look at what they do.

Exactly what is a team principal in F1?

Basically, the team principal may be the boss of a Formula 1 team. In a few languages notably German, which six of the existing set speak in the home boss is effectively the term they use as job title. Therefore, the team principals position is clear enough. The buck usually stops using them so far as the Formula 1 teams performance can be involved.

There is a period when team principals and owners/founders were often one and exactly the same think Colin Chapman (Lotus), Bruce McLaren or most enduringly Frank Williams. They could likewise have happened to create the automobile (Chapman), focus on it in the pits (Williams) or drive and engineer it (McLaren).

Nowadays, team principals dont obtain hands dirty, significantly less drive. Theyre typically hired employees. They could hold shares, but thats it so far as it goes into terms of ownership.

The truth that modern team principals are hired reflects the truth that F1 teams no more operate in isolation. In some instances, theyre section of a wider organisation with that they share skills, people, premises and history Ferrari being the classic example here.

Red Bull Racing, however, can be an exemplory case of a team owned by an entity from a completely different world. Between both of these extremes, theres a variety of governance set-ups. Nonetheless it suffices to state that F1 team principals all have bosses. Bosses who would like a return when it comes to results.

Frank Williams, Williams

Frank Williams, Williams

Photo by: David Hutson / Motorsport Images

What does an F1 team principal do?

The thing every F1 team principal does is serve because the public face of the team. They provide endless press interviews where they speak on the teams behalf, both from the track and during race weekends.

In addition they represent the teams fascination with the political and sporting sense, for instance in meetings with the governing body, race stewards along with other teams. Though theyll routinely have specialists at their side based on the occasion, that’s where diplomatic and business skills can be found in handy.

Another essential role is that of individuals management shaping a (hopefully) winning environment and structure. Sure, you could be an engineer at your core, but a team principal cant function as type of one who will hide behind the garage and pore over numbers. As may be the case for the top of any organisation, theyll have to be in a position to step back, start to see the dilemna and make decisions accordingly.

Among those decisions and essentially the most important is what they ought to rather delegate than make an effort to do themselves. A Formula 1 team comprises of highly specialised people such as for example race engineers, strategists and mechanics. Almost all of them learn about their specialist area compared to the boss does. So its key for the team principal to guarantee the right folks are hired, given the proper structure to work in, and trusted.

Having said that, some team principals tend to be more hands-on than others. That’s where styles will differ in accordance with their management philosophy and skill sets. Some may would rather have a supervisory role in every things. But also for others, if you can find areas where they are able to offer specific expertise, they can do exactly that!

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes Toto Wolff

Team: Mercedes

Time with the team: Since 2013

Wins as team principal: 114

This Austrian former racing driver, who turned 50 in 2022, isn’t just team principal but additionally a considerable shareholder. Hes in charge of all Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities, much in the way of his German predecessor Norbert Haug.

Wolff was a handy racer, but switched his focus to sportscar racing following a stint in Formula Ford in Austria and Germany in the first 90s. He gathered several successes without setting the planet alight, and his motorsport legacy will be his newer work off the track. He was a director with Williams before switching to Mercedes, where he and his countryman Niki Lauda who passed on in 2019 became synonymous with the successes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and much more.

Wolff is married to Scottish former race driver Susie (previously Stoddart), who’s also CEO of the Venturi Racing Formula E team.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Christian Horner

Team: Red Bull Racing

Time with the team: Since 2005

Wins as team principal: 84

Its just a little ironic that while two of the 10 F1 team principals are Austrian and six are German-speakers, the work of running Austrias team is one of the only Englishman on the scene.

Like Wolff, Christian Horner is really a former driver. He went a whole lot further when it comes to single-seater racing, however, achieving the lofty heights of FIA Formula 3000 in the late 1990s. At that time, he founded the Arden team, making Horner among the last owner-drivers to possess competed at a higher level in single-seaters. By the finish of 1998, however, he previously decided that his strength lay behind the pitwall instead of when driving.

Seven years after quitting driving at age 25, Horner graduated from F3000, where Arden had at that time amassed multiple titles. Red Bull, who had bought the Jaguar F1 squad, appointed Horner boss of its eponymous operation because of its debut in 2005.

It proved an ideal match, with the Brit overseeing the teams gradual rise to frontrunner status, and a glut of titles for Sebastian Vettel. Unmoved from his pitwall perch even today, Horner can be well-known for his restless leg during tense races and being married to Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Ferrari Mattia Binotto

Team: Ferrari

Time with the team: Since 1995

Wins as team principal: 7

With a name like Mattia Binotto, you may be forgiven for assuming the Ferrari team principal is Italian. But hes actually Swiss: he was created in Lausanne and studied Mechanical Engineering there. That lets you know Binotto is not any paper-pushing bureaucrat: hes a nuts-and-bolts technical man at his core.

Hes also a textbook exemplory case of ways to work the right path up from underneath in a large organisation. He joined the Formula 1 test team in 1995 as a Test Engine Engineer. From there, he stepped up right into a similar role in the race team and, following a few stops on the way, became Chief Technical Officer in the summertime of 2016.

Finally, in 2019, Binotto was promoted to team principal. He dovetails this Formula 1 role with duties as managing director of the broader motorsport division.

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Alpine Otmar Szafnauer

Team: Alpine

Time with the team: Since 2022

Wins as team principal: 0

Szafnauer surely got to where he could be through a sidewards part of the Formula 1 midfield. Previously with Aston Martin, the Romanian-born American departed the team in January 2022 before resurfacing at Alpine the next month. Upon his appointment, he pledged that Alpine would fight for the planet championship within 100 races – thats prior to the end of 2026, put simply.

Though primarily a businessman by trade and training, Szafnauer can indicate just a little racing on his long CV, because of an area of Formula Ford in the first 1990s. Nonetheless it was off the track he begun to make his name, leaving an extended career at Ford Motor Company to become Operations Director at new Formula 1 team British American Racing in 1998.

Then did a stint with Honda before joining Force India in 2009 and rising to become team principal there where time it had become Aston Martin.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

McLaren Andreas Seidl

Team: McLaren

Time with the team: Since 2019

Wins as team principal: 1

Andreas Seidl found McLaren from some similarly heavy-hitting motorsport brands.

Before his appointment to the Woking team in 2019, hed been team Principal for Porsches successful LMP1 sportscar programme. And the engineer from Passau came built with Formula 1 experience because of his role as Head of Track Operations at BMW Sauber from 2007-2009. This is section of over ten years spent in key motorsport roles for the Bavarian giant.

Seidl is the fifth team principal at McLaren, following founder Bruce McLaren, Teddy Mayer, Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. There could have been at the very least another on the list, but Dennis abolished the positioning in 2014 in another of his last plays at the team, calling it outdated.

Only upon Seidls appointment did the work title become popular again.

Franz Tost, Team Principal, Scuderia AlphaTauri at the AlphaTauri Faenza tour

Franz Tost, Team Principal, Scuderia AlphaTauri at the AlphaTauri Faenza tour

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

AlphaTauri Franz Tost

Team: Alpha Tauri

Time with the team: Since 2005

Wins as team principal: 2

Exactly like Christian Horner at the big sister team that’s Red Bull Racing, Franz Tost has held his team principal role since 2005.

Another former racer who had made a decision to retreat into team operations, Tost was also appointed by Red Bull after its takeover of another team in cases like this Minardi. It had been, needless to say, dubbed Scuderia Toro Rosso in those days.

Born in 1956, Tost may be the oldest team principal on the F1 grid during writing. The Austrian was raised idolising local hero Jochen Rindt, and took the opportunity to race when it arrived in his twenties. He competed in a variety of Austrian junior categories for six years, winning the Formula Ford 1600 title in 1983. After quitting racing after some duration later, he worked his way up in the wonderful world of team management.

His first Formula 1 role was with Williams, where he stayed for five years before Red Bull came calling.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Frederic Vasseur

Team: Alfa Romeo

Time with the team: Since 2017

Wins as team principal: 0

Frederic Vasseur came through the ranks as a team boss in quite similar way a driver would. After studying engineering and aeronautics, the Frenchman founded their own team in 1996.

Running initially beneath the ASM banner, and later as ART, it gathered trophies for fun in the junior formulae. Among other successes, Vasseur oversaw Lewis Hamiltons Formula 3 Euroseries and GP2 titles in the mid-2000s.

With a CV like this, it had been perhaps inevitable that Formula 1 teams would come calling. Affirmed, Vasseur joined Renault as team principal in 2016. But regardless of the French connection, the partnership only lasted per year.

When Vasseur next surfaced in mid-2017, it had been on the German-speaking side of Switzerland, where he used an identical position with the Sauber team. Regardless of the teams change of name to Alfa Romeo, he remains in the role.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Haas Gunther Steiner

Team: Haas

Time with the team: Since 2014

Wins as team principal: 0

Like Tost, Steiner is really a German-speaking veteran hailing from the Alpine region. Though ten years roughly younger, he too found its way to Formula 1 round the turn of the century. However the Italian who also holds American citizenship got there through rallying, where he started as a mechanic and worked his way around manage the Ford World Rally Team in 2000 and 2001.

His transfer to F1 came as managing director at Jaguar, but he remained limited to a few seasons. Following a year off, and a stint with the Opel DTM team, he became Technical Operations Director at the brand new Red Bull Racing team before moving to NEW YORK to focus on Red Bulls motorsport operations in the us. It had been there he made the contacts that ultimately resulted in him being appointed to create the Haas Formula 1 team from the bottom up.

Though team principal has been his title from the start of the project, Steiner is exception for the reason that he is able to be thought to be its hands-on founder too.

Mike Krack, Team Principal, Aston Martin F1

Mike Krack, Team Principal, Aston Martin F1

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin Mike Krack

Team: Aston Martin

Time with the team: Since 2022

Wins as team principal: 0

Krack is really a no-nonsense technical man who quietly developed enough experience in multiple disciplines to attract the eye of headhunters searching for somebody to displace Otmar Szafnauer at Aston Martin earlier this season. He had been a high engineer at BMW Sauber when Sebastian Vettel began his Formula 1 career there in 2006-07, so accepting the post at Vettels current team represented something of a reunion for the pair.

Through the intervening years, Krack had a stint in Formula 3, done the Porsche LMP1 project and rose to oversee BMWs entire motorsport portfolio from 2014 to 2021. Hailing from Luxembourg, it had been Krack who tipped the scales towards German-speakers between the ten F1 team bosses.

And yes, his CV has a fair quantity of overlap with Seidls.

Jost Capito, CEO, Williams Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Jost Capito, CEO, Williams Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

Williams Jost Capito

Team: Williams

Time with the team: Since 2020

Wins as team principal: 0

Slotting among Tost and Steiner among the elder statesmen of the F1 team principal corps, among Capitos greatest strengths may be the network he brings from the lifetime in a variety of motorsport disciplines.

His competition career, which lasted a couple of years, culminated in his crew winning the truck class of the Paris-Dakar in 1985 in a Mercedes-Benz. Later in the 1980s, he became involved with Porsches racing division, then switched to Sauber. From then on came an extended career in rallying, where he played an integral role for first Ford and Volkswagen, culminating in four straight World Rally Championship titles for VW from 2012-16. At that time he was also responsible for VWs entire motorsport programme.

Finally, in the autumn of 2016, Capito managed to get to the very best of the motorsport world using what ended up being an extremely brief gig with McLaren. After another stint at VW, he joined Williams as CEO in late 2020, following a teams acquisition by Dorilton and the departure of Frank and Claire Williams from the leadership.

For 12 months, Simon Roberts was team principal under Capito, however the latter then added the role to his board duties in 2021.

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