Ferrari and McLaren stay on message for the launch of F1 2019
Sky Sports F1's Simon Lazenby reflects on a frantic end to 'launch week' with hosting duties at McLaren and Ferrari, and the messages received...
Last Updated: 15/02/19 5:02pm
In this day and age people stick a hashtag on anything. Whether you are an individual or a brand, if you want to gain some traction, attract some attention, or get your message across then a simple # will do a job for you.
Over the past couple of days I've had the pleasure of visiting the homes of the two most successful teams in the history of Formula 1, McLaren and Ferrari. We travel with their race crews throughout the year but it's only when you get to the heart of their operations that you get a better understanding of their differing philosophies. Teams are constantly in flux and invariably at different phases in their cycles of renewal, growth and success but what McLaren and Ferrari have in common is that neither have won a championship for over a decade.
These two racing giants have condensed their current philosophies into two simple messages.
McLaren have gone with #FearlesslyForward. Ferrari have adopted #EssereFerrari or "Being Ferrari".
It's easy to be cynical about marketing phrases, but agencies get paid thousands to get the messaging right. In a team environment if you can get everyone to buy into the message, then that's half the job. The simpler the message, the easier it is to convey that philosophy.
The message from McLaren...
On Thursday, I hosted the McLaren launch having spent Tuesday filming with their CEO Zak Brown and their first all-new driver pairing in 12 years in the form of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
What is obvious from their strapline this year is that McLaren intend to be pragmatic. No one ever looked clever over-selling themselves and the team got caught out by unsubstantiated boasts about their chassis not so long ago. There is little danger of a repeat of that this year. McLaren are a team in rebuild mode. They have made a number of appointments to bolster their technical and leadership group, the most notable of which is Andreas Seidl who arrives with a fine reputation from Porsche's WEC programme.
As a company McLaren have diversified too. They will be throwing resources at the Indy500 helping Fernando Alonso chase his dream of achieving the 'triple crown' and bought a cycling team that will also be expected to succeed on the world stage. Marry this with their applied technology and road-car departments and what you have is a multi-faceted technology company that knows it must morph to continue to grow.
The DNA of McLaren, though, is the Formula 1 team and Zak Brown knows how sacrosanct that is.
#FearlesslyForward suggests to me that McLaren are a brand and team that are being honest with themselves about their recent failings. Brown has a five-year plan and a new contract in place.
Theirs is a philosophy that will require more time and more patience from their loyal fanbase, but one they hope will give them the space they need for a period of stability.
The message from Ferrari...
Maranello is the town synonymous with Ferrari. It's a sacred place that for so many years has struck the right balance of artists and artisans. Ferrari have a right to believe they are the best because the facts don't lie. 971 races, 235 wins, the most in Formula 1 history.
Their message, though, as explained by new boss Mattia Binotto in Italian at the launch of the SF90, was about connecting the traditions that Enzo Ferrari himself instilled in his team to the present.
It's an esoteric philosophy and one that perhaps can only be understood by having worked for the Scuderia. What is it to "be Ferrari"? Well Binotto should know. He has been at Maranello for a quarter of a century and part of his popularity within the team is that he knows the team inside out. He has a similar aura to Stefano Domenicali and has trodden a similar path to the top.
Those in red believe Binotto is the man to translate this philosophy into long awaited glory with the Scuderia having had four team principals in the last five years. That's the same number of leaders that Manchester United has had managers in the same time-frame. Maurizio Arrivabene's fall mirrors that of Jose Mourinho's for so many reasons. There now appears to be a spirit of openness emerging at Ferrari and like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford, Binotto seems to represent that connection to the core principles that made both teams successful in the past.
Perhaps the lesson learnt from visiting two great teams in the space of 48 hours is that to understand your philosophy, first you must understand exactly where your team is at...and then you can stick a hashtag on it.
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