What CIOs can learn from Mercedes' and Lewis Hamilton's 2017 F1 World Titles

Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth Formula 1 World Championship in October after his ninth-place finish at the Mexico Grand Prix gave him an insurmountable points lead over a pack of competitors led by Sebastian Vettel.

The drivers' title he secured is the fourth of his career, making him the most successful British F1 driver of all time. His Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport matched his feat to claim the constructors' title for the fourth consecutive season.

We look at what CIOs can learn from their victories.

Read next: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Head of IT Matt Harris explains the tech powering the F1 champions

Find a work-life balance

Find a work-life balance

Hamilton insists that he doesn't lead a playboy lifestyle, but parties with Neymar and Rhianna, studio time with Jay-Z and relationships pop stars including Nicole Scherzinger paint a different picture.

Enjoying life away from the track keeps the 32-year-old's mind refreshed on race day.

"I'm no less focused than any of my peers, he told Men's Health Australia. "They live a different life. They go home and are not pictured at events."

Internal competition can bring both benefits and risks

Internal competition can bring both benefits and risks

Hamilton thrived in 2017 as the number one driver at Mercedes. A bit of internal competition can act as a catalyst for improvement for individuals and the team, as it did for Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg last season, but sometimes rivalries can sacrifice the goal of the group for that of an individual.

In the Hungary Grand Prix Hamilton relinquished his podium position for teammate Bottas. The move helped rival Sebastian Vettel extend his lead in the championship to 14 points, but Hamilton's harmonious relationship with Bottas became a source of stability for the remainder of the season.

Bottas repaid his teammate in the Italian Grand Prix, by providing the selfless support that helped Hamilton take the win. The team always comes first.

Have a vision

Have a vision

As a child growing up in Stevenage, Hamilton already knew what he wanted. He dedicated his career to making his vision a reality.

"As a kid, I always dreamt of being in Formula 1," Hamilton posted on Facebook after winning the championship. "I never lost sight of that dream, even when people said it would be impossible."

The same applies to the rest of the team and their technical strategy, as Williams F1 CIO Graeme Hackland explained at the 2017 CIO Summit.

“Where are you putting your efforts?" asked Hackland. "What's the vision, the mission, that you're on? I think if you can get that clarity, then your conversation with the board is much easier."

Make the most of your luck

Make the most of your luck

Preparation can lay the foundations for success, but sometimes the decisive factor will be out of your control. Taking advantage of unforeseen events as they arose helped Hamilton to the title.

"I needed it to rain, and as soon as it rained, I knew where I was going to finish," Hamilton said after clinching an unlikely victory Singapore Grand Prix. "I knew I had the pace when it rains, but unfortunately we just didn't have the car in the dry, but today with it raining, those are my conditions that I love to drive in.

Stable systems are essential

Stable systems are essential

The dependable performance of his Mercedes helped Hamilton become the only driver on the grid to finish every race of the 2017 season, and the second world champion to achieve the feat since 1963.

"To have the consistency and reliability we've had this year has enabled us to be where we are," he said. "It's been the outlier of us alongside Ferrari, for example, and I'm massively grateful for that."

Perfection isn\'t always necessary

Perfection isn't always necessary

In an ideal world, we would all have perfect systems and performance. In reality, these often aren't available, and neither are they always essential to get the result you need.

Hamilton won the title by finishing ninth in the Mexico Grand Prix. He called the outcome a "horrible way to do it", but winning ugly is always better than not winning at all.

Choose your equipment carefully

Choose your equipment carefully

Picking the right equipment was crucial to the success of Mercedes, most notably in the choice of tires.

"If you were to ask anybody that's in F1 that knows what they're talking about, the biggest possible differentiator between any of the teams at the moment is tyres," Mercedes IT director Matt Harris explained to CIO UK.

"Now you'll hear lots of people going on about the engine - and yes, that's important, and we're lucky enough to have one of the best in the pit lane - but if we get tyres wrong we won't be the fastest. We could quite easily be mid-table."

They got them right and it paid off, as Hamilton revealed.

"I've loved driving this year's car with the tyres, it makes me kind of think why did we not have these big tyres before," he said.

"More mechanical grip ultimately means we can do more on the track and more racing and that’s what we need."

Optimise your setup

Optimise your setup

Mercedes maximised performance by balancing a desire for better data against the other requirements for the car.

"Each car has approximately 200 sensors," said Harris. "It does vary during a race weekend as to exactly how many because sensors are weight, and weight is less performance, so you always have that careful consideration between performance and information.

"The sensors that are on the car can tell us anything from tyre temperatures to wheel speeds to engine information to aero loads. Some of those are for performance, some of those are for safety, and some are for reliability.

"All of the teams have the same ECU [Electronic Control Unit], and the limitation on that is the speed that you can get data in and out of it, so you try and optimise the amount of data you store on it to try and minimise the amount of time it takes to get the data off."

Accept responsibility

Accept responsibility

Hamilton's crash in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix made victory in the next day's race almost impossible. He managed to salvage a fourth-place finish but the result should have been better.

"We could have won the last race fairly easily and it was solely my fault that we didn't do so," he admitted.

His acceptance of responsibility set an example for the rest of the team and absolved them of any guilt for the disappointing result.

Keep a winning mentality

Keep a winning mentality

Hamilton and Mercedes may have already wrapped up the titles, but insisted that there will be no holding back in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

"Regardless of what stands in the trophy cabinets back at base, our focus is always on the next race and the next championship," said team chief Toto Wolff.

"Our goal in Abu Dhabi is quite simple: to give the best of ourselves, to extract the maximum from our 'diva' in her final race – and to win.

The team was true to his word. Hamilton was pipped to pole position by his teammate Valtteri Bottas, and the duo ended the race in the same positions in which they started, giving their fourth one-two finish of the season.

The endless drive to succeed is what propels professionals in every field to the top of their trade.

Don\'t forget the team

Don't forget the team

While Hamilton earns the megabucks and takes the lion's share of the glory, his victories would be impossible without the massive Mercedes workforce who toil outside the spotlight in the team's Brackley, Northamptonshire base. Hamilton makes a point of publically acknowledging their performance, and pays visits to the factory to show them his appreciation.

"We actually had Lewis come into the IT department a couple of weeks ago," said Harris. "That was a massive boost to a load of the guys, because we're quite removed from the track in a lot of instances.

"Some guys get to go to the track regularly because it's part of their job, but some of them have never been to the track and it's unlikely they'll get to go in many instances."

Always look for improvements

Always look for improvements

Despite their string of successes, Mercedes refuses to rest on their laurels. To augment the human analysis of car data and reduce the processing requirements, the team is now working with Tibco to develop automated anomaly detection.

"You're now starting to engineer by exception rather than having to be clever enough to know what you're looking for," said Harris.

"If you look at the business as a whole, we don't necessarily use data as well as we've done at the track for all the other things we do in the business.

"There's now a lot more work going into data analysis around all the other things that we do, whether it's vehicle simulation, or our ERP and our CAD systems, about how we can optimise our performance as a business."

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

Related Slideshows