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An Original: Andy Stevenson on what he's learnt from 33 years in F1

Andy Stevenson Original landscape hero

The longest-serving member of Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team, Sporting Director Andy Stevenson, lifts the lid on what he's learnt from more than three decades at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Every year in Formula One, the regulations evolve, the cars evolve, the team evolves.

Andy Stevenson evolves.

Charged with leading our garage operations and interactions with the sport's governing body, the FIA, keeping up with the rapid pace at which F1 changes is essential for Andy.

In a highly competitive global sport, relentless innovation and striving for excellence are a must.

Having spent more than three decades in F1, Andy has been exposed to a high-performance culture and has shaped – and continues to shape – the one that drives our team today.

As we celebrate Originals – those who continue to strive for better – together with our official lubricant partner Valvoline, we caught up with Andy to discover what he's learned at the pinnacle of motorsport…

1 | Being adaptable is essential

"Motorsport is an industry that moves very, very quickly – so you need to move and adapt as quickly as the sport does. I always remember the adage: keep doing the same things and you get the same results. I'm therefore always looking at ways to do the job better. In the very early days of Jordan, we used to say: 'There's always a smarter way.' Regardless of how you've always done it, there's always something you can improve."

Andy Stevenson in line 4
Andy Stevenson in line 4

2 | Follow the process. And when it breaks, change the process

"We're very process-driven in F1. We put processes in place to guarantee the right things are done at the right times, but we're always willing to adapt those if we feel there's room for improvement somewhere. Equally, those processes sometimes generate their own issues so you must be open-minded about rebuilding them."

3 | You write your own job description in F1

"My position as Sporting Director has been carved out during my many years at this team, but the same role at a different team would require a very different skillset. I'm from more of a sporting and efficiencies background, but other Sporting Directors are more engineering-led. Adapting your skills to the needs of the business is a big part of working in the sport."

4 | Use enthusiasm as fuel

"At Aston Martin Aramco, we're working towards that day when we become a World Championship-winning team, but we haven't got there yet, so I still have plenty of energy and enthusiasm to achieve that and finish the job. I don't want to be remembered as somebody who just competed in F1 for 40 years and never won a title.

"What's motivating me right now is that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; our Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll, our shareholders and partners have thrown their support behind us and given us everything we need to succeed. It's time to get the job done."

Andy Stevenson in line 3
Andy Stevenson in line 3

5 | Problems come at you at 200mph – you need a fix

"Fixing problems often comes down to experience. Lots of things can go wrong – but you often encounter similar sorts of problems. Nowadays, a lot of issues that you deal with are things you've dealt with before, so you've learnt from the experience, and you've put processes in place to quickly mitigate against them. Having said that, you do have to think very quickly – and be aware of the situation developing around you."

6 | Knowledge is power

"When I'm sat on the pit wall, I'm not just relaxing and watching Sky Sports, I'm trying to build a picture of what is actually happening all round the circuit at any particular moment.

"I build that from lots of different sources: I have seven video views open on the pit wall – our cars, other teams' cars, the international feed, follow-me CCTV cams. So, lap-by-lap or even corner-by-corner, I can build up a picture of what's going on around our cars and around the track. Then when something does happen, I've got the maximum possible information available to me to make the correct decision.

"In the race, you need a very thorough knowledge of the circuit layout – where the cranes are located, the gaps in the barriers where cars can be moved, where the marshals are positioned – that helps you instantly make a judgment on what's going to happen and how it might affect your race directly."

Andy Stevenson in line 2
Andy Stevenson in line 2

7 | Be open to new technology

"I obviously didn't start out using seven video feeds on the pit wall – it's been a natural development to get there, and we get offered new technology all the time. It's all about adapting new tech for the purpose you need it for – adaptation is a skill. You have to be comfortable with change.

"In addition to those seven screens, I also listen to about 15 radio channels so it's not surprising that you end up a bit frazzled after a race – your mind has been working intensely for the previous two hours."

8 | Don't take your work home

"I never take stress from work home with me. If there's a problem I'm trying to solve, I'll try to finish it before I leave the office if I can. Listening to music in the car on the way home also helps me to shut off. If you don't allow your brain to switch off from work issues, you'll end up having a bad night's sleep and you'll suffer the next day. Recovery is extremely important; you must give yourself time.

"I'm also a big believer in looking at some problems with fresh eyes the next morning if it's possible. Very often, what felt like a disaster can be fixed very quickly the following day."

9 | Empowering people is essential

"We employ a lot of very smart people here at Aston Martin Aramco, so if you don't allow them to do their job properly, what's the point of having them here? As Sporting Director, it's my responsibility to give everybody in the team whatever they need to get their job done.

"I'm not there to tell them how to do the job; I'm there to make sure they've got everything at their disposal to do things properly – whether that's arriving at the circuit with as little stress as possible, a comfortable hotel, the tools and technology they require to get the job done. It's important that people know they have the support they need."

Andy Stevenson Original in line image
Andy Stevenson Original in line image

10 | Inspiration can be found in odd places

"You have to look up and down the pitlane for inspiration – don't just focus on the teams at the front. All the teams in modern F1 do things very, very well: the level is so consistently high. There's so much you can learn just by standing back and understanding how others solve their problems. Never underestimate the opposition."

11 | Defy your own expectations

"I expect the very best of myself every day.

"On my very first day at the team, Eddie Jordan told me that I wouldn't last beyond the end of the month. I didn't realise for a very long time that this was his way to get the most out of me: he wanted to make sure I wasn't going to sit back and do the bare minimum, he wanted me to push myself.

"I thought 'Right, I'm going to show this guy!' and I was working until 10, 11 o'clock every night, doing the very best I could. And Eddie was driving home with a big smile on his face, thinking, 'Heh, I've got him right where I want him!'

"I am still here today, because of what Eddie told me on my first day back in 1987 – maybe not working until 10, 11 o'clock every night but certainly challenging myself to do the best I can every single day."

Valvoline

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