The Important Part About Being A Team Principal

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

A good month or so ago, I did an article discussing the life of being a Team Principal, and I was very positive…but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain... – I just want to briefly highlight a couple of things you may need to put into consideration before rushing straight into the “Team Manager” position.

Remember there is nothing wrong with being a driver for hire, learn the ropes as a driver, practice and improve as both a driver and a team member and most importantly: Learn how the professionals manage a team, before taking a page out of their metaphorical book and starting your own.

I did a little bit of “team-hopping” between teams to ensure I found the right one. Eventually RSR Esports ticked all the boxes: Small (20 – 50 members), not too competitive, quite friendly, etc… So I stayed for a short while.

Later, I wanted to do endurance racing, so, I asked whom (from RSR Esports) would want to do VRS Endurance with me in the the following season. I got up to four answers - of these, two to three of them joined the new discord server I created (which I made so that we could do primarily VRS Endurance stuff and split it up from the regular RSR Esports solo race shenanigans) This worked out nicely, RSR Esports was the daddy (like Red Bull) and Kabort was the little baby/toddler/son (like Toro Rosso). Without RSR Esports as a base/platform I don’t think I would have got the skills or the knowledge or the “stepping stone” to create Kabort Motorsport as it is. In the beginning, I asked setups from them, but as Kabort Motorsport grew, I "let go of daddy's hand" if you will, and started to use ones from my own team, as well as those sourced from my team (wherever they may've got them from)

“To be a good Team Principal, you need a damn thick skin – but not skull.” - Robin Truswell

You are the equivalent of Toto Wolff – Christian Horner – Maurizio Arrivabene – Claire Williams – you are the head of the team, you are the boss, you are in control…this also means that you need to accept responsibility – for good and for bad. If your team has a rubbish race, you’ve got to motivate them to keep striving, to keep going, to keep racing – even if you get disqualified, motivation is key.

You also need to (learn to) take criticism. If a driver doesn’t like the way something is run, he should be able to speak to you about it, and you should reflect and be able to tell the rest of the team. Don’t be in denial, and most importantly, don’t make your drivers feel imperior/less important/unable to talk to you.

As I mentioned in the previous post (of this kind) you’ve got to manage your drivers – you are the Shepard, and they are your flock – you are not superior, they look up to you and they want you to guide them – and you should be able to guide them, otherwise they’ll just be grazing.

Tell them when races are, and who you want racing, organise stints – don’t leave it until the very last hours before the race. This applies to hiring drivers too, don’t hire drivers barely hours before a race is about to start, give it days – weeks if necessary. Ensure that the driver is good for you, and you are right for the driver – ensure the skill levels of your current team, and the new driver match.

Finally, Drivers are not robots. They are not AI, they are humans, they are real people with real shit going on in their lives – they will not be free every second of their lives to practice or race, but this is why it is VITAL to build up your team – not as quick as possible – but as strong as possible – hire/employ drivers that WANT to race for you, that LIKE racing for/with you, that are truly happy to be there. Those who are enthusiastic, because that way, the driver will prioritise iRacing over other things, like playing Minecraft.

“The taller you build your tower, the more bricks there are to crumble…”

The more drivers you have, the more likely one of these will stop enjoying himself and ask to leave, and as long as you are keeping the leavers at the newcomers at roughly the same level (just like money really) your team will be a striving success. And one thing I learnt from a late driver of mine is that no matter how someone makes a Hot Chocolate, it's still a bloody nice drink. No matter how somebody goes about owning/being a part of a team, as long as they are racing, it shouldn't matter how it's run. Some team principals love being control freaks, and shouting at drivers when they do not get results, others are just enjoying the team aspect, socialising, winning and losing as a team. I go for the latter - and if drivers want to leave because I am too "lax" so be it - I want to race in a calm, happy environment where the drivers can comfortably come up to me and just fire anything at my face. I am not Gunther Steiner, that form of leadership doesn't fit my ethos. And I truly believe that love is a two way thing - if you love every one of your drivers, and treat them uniquely, as a opposed to a group of middle-aged-men working for you, they will love you back, and repay you for your kindness - not necessarily in finance or money, but in loyalty and respect, then I truly think you have a championship-winning team, already lined up.

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