Breakfast with ... Alex Wurz

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test One - Day 3 -  Barcelona, Spain

What do you bring to Williams and Toyota that they can’t find within their own staff? You’re not an engineer by training.

In other sports it’s completely normal that athletes, the ones who actually have a management mind, move into the top positions of organisations. Motorsport still says “Drivers are stupid” yet all of the key decision-makers in Formula 1 were all drivers themselves, some of them not very successful but they were drivers, so I think it’s a funny phrase when people say “Drivers don’t know what to do.” We’re all ultra competitive so we don’t accept any delays, slow process, compromises. As a driver, you’re very used to being in the middle and observe how all the humans around you are performing each and every day and, as humans, each and every day we perform slightly different. Sometimes we have problems, sometimes we have allergies, we have issues, so that’s a very important aspect, where there’s a mix of competition and the human factor. Decisions have to be taken in split seconds as a driver and sometimes you have to do that even in the meeting room.

What I’m proud of is there are a few things on the race cars which I have actually invented, again because I love to be creative and enjoy lateral thinking. Some of them are very important performance design aspects. Now I feel like I’m a bighead and talking too much about myself!

No, keep going it’s interesting.

Shift beeps (the driver hears a noise through his earpiece when it’s time to change gear) and some of the ways we run differentials, the way we have now better speed-lane control of how to optimise timing in and out of the pit lane - these things were my ideas. Now it’s the industry standard. Young kids think “why do we use a shift beep?” Because I was the first one to think “why should I use my eyes?” The double clutch start - I said “I don’t want to do it with one clutch, I think I will be better with two clutch pedals for the step.” I’m always working with the engineers trying to think of creative solutions. Sometimes they are really stupid but there’s no such thing as stupid, because sometimes you come up with something good.

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You turned down an offer to run the Manor team?

It was very flattering to be asked by a team to run the operation. Actually it was the second time. Gerard Lopez (Lotus) asked me two years ago. At this point, I was still focussed on racing. With Manor, the timing was maybe three or four months out because I had committed to my current partners and I like the freedom of choice - you mentioned you see me cycling every morning. For me, that’s cool. Not that I’m lazy or don’t want to work because from when I come home from noon to midnight, I work flat-out and I work whilst cycling, in my head preparing emails and phone-calls and so on, but it makes me work better if I keep a certain amount of freedom. Maybe that will change in the future.