In the Brawn Lifeboat Challenge 11 teams compete to raise the most money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). I have been a fisherman all my life so it has always been there as a peace of mind. When I was approached to head up the challenge and provide mentoring, it appealed.
Apprenticeships are a vital part of our industry. They disappeared in our company but we are now looking at reintroducing them.
I have compartmentalised competitiveness. I try to avoid being overly competitive if I play table tennis with my kids. But in our environment we get measured at every race at how well we are doing and I enjoy that competition.
We are directly assessed on our performance. Every two or three weeks we are on the track showing where we are, and if you are not fast enough you have a lot of work to do.
I tend to think of myself as a friendly dictator. In our organisation, with 450 people, you need structure and strong decision-making but you need to draw on all the expertise in your organisation to reach those decisions, allowing everybody to contribute. As long as you have been part of the process you should sign up to supporting the decision even if it is not what you wanted.
It is a corny old adage but a group of people working well together will definitely achieve more than individuals operating by themselves.
Racing is a drug. I have been involved for 30 years and when I had a year off in 2007 I missed the racing and the camaraderie. Michael Schumacher is the same; he is still young and he missed that challenge and that thrill of driving a racing car at high speed.
The mindset and character of British people suit Formula 1. In the UK, there is a strong heritage in motor sport. There are engineers coming though all the time and a lot of universities have motor sport engineering courses. We have a lot of teams in other forms of motor sports, too, so when we search for engineers we can look for some that have been involved in other forms in the UK.
UK innovation in our industry is impressive. There are several companies in the UK who make a special fuel system that F1 cars use—military-spec fuel bladders. We have developed the industry over the years and that is core.
More businesses could benefit from the regular assessment of where you are, very clear communication with the company and staff of where you are and very clear communication of what you are expecting of them. It has to be a consistent message; it can't change every two weeks.
Measures of success are different for different teams. For our team, race wins are the only measures. For other teams, scoring points or getting on the podium is their measure of success, and that is right because not all teams can win.
There is only a small number of people in the world who can win a Grand Prix and have the experience to lead a Formula 1 team; they have a unique set of skills and they are in a strong negotiating position.
Drivers are paid whatever is commercially viable. We run a business, which in our case is profitable, and we can afford to pay the drivers a certain amount of money.