How embracing the core fundamentals of flexible work accelerated Formula One into the future

The Drive to Survive: the secret behind being number one

Standing proud as the world’s most prestigious motor racing competition, Formula One is always on the look out for new ways to harness their expertise to stay on the cutting edge of the sports agenda. The popularity of the sport has accelerated in recent years largely due to the introduction of Drive to Survive, a Netflix documentary which has given greater access into the lives of the world’s best racing drivers and the people who push Formula One to the forefront.

Due to the ever-increasing calendar, the sport had to look at new ways of harnessing expertise to remain the number one motor racing competition. Formula One chose to stray away from the usual tried and tested path and take a risk in implementing a consultancy model. The introduction consultancy-based work created the progressive and inclusive shift necessary to stay ahead of the curve.

In this article, we explore three ways in which the consultancy model transformed Formula One and reflect on why the model is growing. We also reflect on what the legal profession can learn from the world of racing and how legal consultants can utilise the fundamentals of flexible working to stay cutting edge in the legal industry.

#1 Steering transformation: putting the consultancy model in the driving seat

Following his departure from Williams in 2018, race engineer Rob Smedley took on a consultancy role with Formula One after discussions with the sport’s Managing Director of Motorsports, Ross Brawn. The conversations with his former Scuderia Ferrari colleague was centred on the need for Formula One to better distribute the rich level of technical content that was previously not accessible to the public. Smedley’s role as Director of Data Systems involved identifying and distributing the insights that help viewers better understand the technical aspects of the sport and so have an informed idea as to the information informing teams’ decisions.

An example of this would be the broadcast of data, powered by AWS, such as striking distance (e.g. number of laps a driver is away from being in a position to overtake the car ahead), car performance scores (e.g. how quick a driver is through low, medium and high speed corners in comparison to competitors) and tyre performance (e.g. the tyre compound a driver is using and the condition said set of tyres are in).

Despite having left his post at the turn of the year, Formula One continues to make such information available due to it enhancing the viewing experience and driving in a new generation of fans.

Top tip: the power of information

Do you see what Formula One did there? By collecting technical information, they were able to learn and enhance their understanding of their audience from their data, allowing for the creation of powerful commercial and media content that both maintain and increase the number of fans, sponsors, etc.

Get creative! As a legal consultant, being able to home in on commercial awareness and knowledge can greatly enrich your career path and help you showcase your technical skills- why not refresh yourself with our top tips from our blog.

As a legal consultant you have amazing opportunities to work on bespoke transformation projects that really make a difference. Find out how our legal consultants have achieved this in the past with Kantar.

#2 Learn from your past: the whole is greater than the sum its parts

Another key figure working as a consultant in Formula One is Masashi Yamamoto, the former Honda boss now in an advisory role at Red Bull. Having worked closely with the team in recent years (Honda acted as Red Bull Racing’s power unit supplier from the start of 2019 to the end of 2021), Yamamoto was recruited by Red Bull at the start of 2022 in order to facilitate the team’s development of their own power unit which they plan to use in the years to come following Honda’s decision pull out of the sport and focus on other projects.

Following Honda’s tumultuous start on their return to Formula One with McLaren in 2015, Yamamoto was key in persuading the Japanese manufacturer to remain committed to the sport, a decision which eventually proved fruitful with Dutch driver Max Verstappen winning last year’s drivers’ World Championship in a Honda powered Red Bull.

It was not just technical expertise that convinced Red Bull to bring Yamamoto in as a consultant to their new powertrains department, but also his strong relationship with team principal, Christian Horner and team advisor, Helmut Marko; two key figures in the world of Formula One.

Top tip: variety is the spice of life

When preparing for an interview or a new role, look to the past. Looking back at previous experiences can help you to identify key areas that you excel in and areas that may benefit from a refresher. Identifying these areas also helps to you put your best foot forward and to be confident in how your skill set can benefit clients and future placements.

Want to make your CV is cutting edge? Contact our talent team today!

#3 Outside looking in: driving successful from the outside

Formula One and its constructors are not the only ones to enlist the help of consultants though, with track bosses at the Yas Marina Circuit also seeking expertise to improve their offering.

The Formula One season has culminated in Abu Dhabi for the last eight years and whilst the location provides the glitz and glamour that the sport is renowned for, the layout of the track has been widely criticised. This led to those in charge of the Yas Marina Circuit calling on MRK1, a track design consultancy, to improve the layout to enable more overtaking and in turn produce more exciting races.

The changes made to the track for the 2021 edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended up having a significant impact on one of the most dramatic and controversial climaxes to a Formula One season, with Max Verstappen diving down the inside of Lewis Hamilton at the north hairpin on the last lap of the race. It was an overtake that would have not been possible in previous seasons due to the presence of a chicane just prior to this hairpin which MRK1 advised to be removed so as to increase the likelihood of overtakes on this section of the track; a decision that ultimately helped determine arguably the most enthralling championship in the sport’s history.

Top tip: it’ all about you

Consider what your unique selling point (UPS) is. What makes you stand out in your field? What sets you apart from the rest and how do you highlight this best in interviews and your CV?

Here are two of our top pick from our blog page to help keep you in top form:

How to create a killer CV

10 CV tips for returning lawyers


The consultancy model has been proven successful to Formula One, demonstrating the range of areas in which consultants can provide expertise relevant to the sport, with technical analysis, engineering advice and track design all mentioned.

More predominantly, this reflects how flexible the world of work is becoming, with some of the biggest brands keen to optimise their product, even if doing so requires using means which have previously never been considered. Due to the ever-increasing race calendar, Formula One is most likely to continue leaning towards consultancy work. With the increase of races, the greater toll on those involved meaning the sport will find itself lending to more flexible working arrangements.

As a legal consultant is it more important than ever to stay up to date with how businesses and industries are evolving in the new era of work. Always be on the look out for new opportunities to develop your knowledge as both a legal professional and personal.

Related reading

Sign up to our newsletter(s)

Get our latest news by email. Sign up to our newsletter for industry insight, news and views and the latest from the Obelisk Support team: