Marc Priestley spent ten years as a member of the McLaren Formula One pit crew as a race mechanic. In that time he worked with drivers including Kimi Raikkönen, David Coulthard, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button. Marc’s insights into the F1 business model are unique, eye-opening, and pertinent. As a keynote, after dinner and motivational speaker, Marc draws on his experience at McLaren Racing to share what the motor racing sport can teach us about key areas of business, including marginal gains, image management, rapid productivity, and data analysis.
Looking at every aspect of F1, and in particular the unique role of the pit crew, Marc examines the communication, teamwork, pressure and strategy involved in a sport where millions are spent shaving hundredths of seconds off lap times.
Marc explains the team’s search for high performance under pressure as millions watch, and drivers and sponsors expect perfection. He highlights the dedication of each crew member in getting their role precisely timed and synchronised, and the direct part they play in the planning and design of the car, garage and equipment. He analyses the crucial nature of each and every member of the team, their individual accountability, and their role in achieving the marginal gains required.
As well as the teamwork, Marc talks about the problems the McLaren team faced when the relationship between Hamilton and Alonso broke down, splitting the team, damaging morale, and tarnishing the drivers’ images as leaders. Leaders need to realise their role not just within an organisation, but as very visible figureheads to the public and the rest of the team.
Marc Priestley examines the mindset of the F1 industry that demands high performance and short deadlines, and how the right strategy and culture can make the apparently impossible happen. Marc cites the McLaren ethos of cutting through layers of management and bureaucracy, forging direct contact between those that are affected by changes and have new ideas, and those who have the power to enact them, empowering all of the team at any level. He also looks at why team boss Ron Dennis insists the team always wear crisp white shirts.
Marc is now a writer on F1 for various websites and magazines and has been a contributor and pit-lane reporter for Sky and BBC Radio 5Live. His book, The Mechanic, offers insight into the decade Marc spent with McLaren. He also acts as a pundit on ITV’s coverage of the new Formula E electric racing series with its cutting edge technology, innovative culture, and fan interaction.
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