Formula 1

Boost or Burnout? Using F1 Tactics in Business

6 July 2023 | 3 min read

As a lifelong sports fan, I always enjoy a Netflix or Amazon Prime sports docuseries. I’ve never been a fan of F1, but the Drive to Survive series over recent years offers a fascinating look at the sport through the Netflix lens – and I see intriguing parallels with business.

In F1, there is a function called ‘Push Mode’. This is something that the crew in the pits will often instruct the drivers to activate. During a race, cars usually maintain ‘energy-balanced’ laps. But during a ‘push’ lap, the game changes. Drivers hit a switch causing the vehicle to deploy additional energy, enabling them to increase their race pace to protect their position or challenge another driver. It can only be sustained for a while, though. Eventually, the energy reserves must be replenished, and so the balanced laps resume.

Push Mode got me thinking about business. As entrepreneurs, we strive for growth, continually pushing to scale our ventures. But as with F1, you can’t hit boost all the time, otherwise you burn out.

The comparison doesn’t end there. In F1, each team member plays a crucial role – from the driver and team principal, to the pit crew and statisticians. They collaborate, every action geared towards that pivotal moment when the driver hits ‘boost’.

Similarly, in business, every team member does their thing, and there are times when collaborative efforts must go above and beyond – like when you go all out to win a big client, launch a product, or make an acquisition. These moments require an extra burst – a ‘Push Mode’ for business.

However, contrary to what you may see here on LinkedIn and in the media, operating perpetually in ‘Push Mode’ as an entrepreneur or business leader isn’t feasible or healthy. Just as in F1, you have to be strategic in deciding when to press the button. Being trigger-happy leads to burnout, diminished returns or worse.

Every year brings challenges that require us to rally our teams for exceptional performance. To do that, we need everyone on board, working towards a common goal with shared understanding and commitment. This means we need to know precisely when to hit Push Mode and when to recharge. Moreover, the button must actually work when the activation moment arrives. Pressing boost only for the wheels to fall off is a distinct possibility – unless everyone knows what they’re doing, where they’re going and are all working together smoothly.

So, as we race along the entrepreneurial track, this is a great reminder to: recognise the power of our team, understand the value of ‘Push Mode’, and most importantly, know when to deploy it for maximum effect.

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Julian Davies

Julian Davies

Managing Partner at Redfin

Managing partner and Chartered Accountant with 30+ years of experience in marketing, media, and creative industries. He leads the Redfin team, offering expert advice on growth and profitability. Former owner manager of an agency acquired by a listed group; his industry insights are second to none. Off duty, you might find him on the golf or tennis court, determined to master new tricks.
Shelley Watkin

Shelley Watkin

Client Finance Director at Redfin

A qualified Chartered Accountant with 20+ years of experience in the marketing services sector. During her 5+ years at Redfin, she served as Client Finance Director offering invaluable insights into strategic and commercial matters. Shelley has also assumed the role of Finance Director for various creative agencies, guiding them through successful sales processes. If she gets free time after managing her children’s busy schedules, she likes to chill out doing yoga and gardening.