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THE STEERING COLUMN: The Blame Game

THE STEERING COLUMN: The Blame Game

The urge to blame is only human. But that blame game is completely alien to real teamwork…

The urge to blame is only human

"I will not blame anybody - and I won't let you start to try and blame somebody. This team has won three world championships and I will not point the finger at a single person."

Toto's words were crystal clear as the podium music faded yesterday evening and the media inquisition began into how a loose headrest cost Lewis a nailed-on win and a huge championship points swing.

The urge to blame is only human. People point fingers and duck responsibility. It's somebody else's fault, not your own. Or if you get punished, then so should they. But that blame game is completely alien to real teamwork.

While investigating some of the traits shared by high-performance teams, Matthew Syed has written: "Failure is inevitable in a complex world. The key is to harness the lessons as part of a dynamic process of change."

In other words, things will always go wrong. It's the culture of fixing them that matters.

We will draw the right conclusions and improve

Today, the process of doing that will begin back in Brackley. We will analyse the headrest design to see what improvements can be made - and our procedures to ensure they are robust enough in future.

Calmly, working with facts rather than conjecture, we will put the finger in the wound. We will discuss the problem with openness, honesty and accountability. We will draw the right conclusions and improve.

The own goal from yesterday will help us improve to score the match winner in the future. That's the process of continuous improvement that is the DNA of Formula One.

Elsewhere in the post-race hullabaloo, though, emotions still ran high out of the cockpit as cameras then fingers were pointed, blame incorrectly cast.

Calm analysis of the objective facts showed that, in the words of the FIA, Lewis behaved correctly, maintained a consistent speed and drove in the same manner on every re-start during the race.

The big picture was different

It goes without saying that controversy like this is manna from heaven for "the show". When Lewis suggests his rival should do his talking face to face, this gets blown into headlines about a duel at dawn or a fanciful fist fight. That would certainly make for an intriguing Facebook Live...!

However, amid the noise, perhaps another more subtle truth began to emerge. Somehow yesterday's result went against Lewis to the tune of two points. But the big picture was different.

Our engineering team is beginning to learn the song our diva sings - and that was demonstrated by our performance in both qualifying and the race.

During the time when yesterday's Grand Prix was still about deliberately driving around things, rather than into them, the W08 did a pretty handy job of it in the hands of both Valtteri and Lewis.

And that's a very encouraging sign for the weeks ahead. We will keep pushing and keep improving in the days ahead. The next venue has been a happy hunting ground in the past three years. Roll on, Spielberg!

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