Teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to produce the best on-track product that they can. The ultimate goal of all this expense? Win a drivers’ or constructors’ championship at the end of the season, and your team receives a prize purse to make the year-long struggles worth it.
Part of this sport is a mandatory pit stop during every race. During a pit stop, the teams jack the car up, change all 4 tires, modify suspension and aero settings, and drop the car back down to the ground. The entire pit stop requires over 20 team members to complete. How long would this take in a race environment? 30 seconds? 45? A minute? Nope. Just under 2 seconds. Don’t believe me? Check out this video from the last race:
In a sport where precision is paid for in large sums of cash, every tenth of a second counts. Having a pit stop be quicker than another team’s could mean on-track position changes and a change in the championship standings and millions in prize money gained.
So what happens when this goes wrong? At Belgium’s track, in 2015, Williams found out.
The team mistakenly fitted the wrong mix of tires to the car! Notice the different white and yellow tires going on, as they should be the same color across the back of the car. As this was against the rules (all 4 need to be the same), they were forced to take a drive-through penalty, costing the team 20+ seconds of on-track time, and a potential top-4 finish in that race (not to mention the impact on the championship!).
So What Went Wrong?
They are not a new team with an inexperienced crew. They have 114 races wins and 16 championships combined (drivers and constructors) since entering the sport in 1977. This was not their first race, and certainly not their first mistake during a race weekend. They just made a mistake, something every team hopes never happens at a crucial moment – but it did.
Because of this mistake, their team was ridiculed on social media for the coming months, receiving a tremendous amount of negative PR.
That could have been the end of the story with a big blemish on the team’s ability to perform on-track (and attract sponsors for future races) but what happens when a team with such a pedigree makes such a large mistake?
The team took the few months between the 2015 and 2016 season to hone their process and perfect their pit stops.
They came back in 2016 and have won 8 consecutive fastest pit-stop awards, with no errors.
Now that’s a world-class response!
The Takeaway for Your Business?
Don’t let a slip-up in your process get you down, even if it was shared on social media. Review what happened, improve your process, and provide a world-class response at the next opportunity. A mistake (even a large one!) can point out process errors that ultimately improve your business when fixed.