F1 Team Principals: Who Stands out as the Best?
Team Principals come and go in F1 but which team principal is the best and has made a big impact on the team and the sport?
Every F1 team has to have two drivers to drive the team forward on the track, (sorry for the pun) but behind the scenes who does that? As we know, the team principal plays the most significant part of the team in the garage. Many team principles have come and gone, so the question arises: Who is the best one?
The best does come down to opinion, but I am here to plant thought as to who it could be. Who has impressed us and created one hell of a team?
Ron Dennis entered McLaren F1 team back in the 80s; it had been a while for the Woking team since they had won anything. James Hunt was the last winner of a race for McLaren in 1977, at Dennis' arrival time at the team.
But within two years he did something, which started his legacy with the team. He convinced the great Niki Lauda to come back. I am not here to go through everything Dennis has done, but this was the first crucial move to impact the British team.
It took a magical four years, and McLaren became champions yet again, with Lauda and Alain Prost backing up results and taking wins to finish second.
This title for Dennis was the start of a long legacy, despite towards the end it was clouded with negativity. He still stands out as one of the best team principles.
He helped craft cars such as the iconic MP4/4; he brought McLaren some of the best drivers in that era, Lauda, Senna, Prost, Hamilton and Alonso. He won a mega seventeen world championships as head of McLaren. Just showcasing when he got it right at McLaren, he got it right.
His leadership at McLaren crafted them into the iconic team we see now, and not just on track in F1. The automotive side of the brand primarily exists due to Dennis. It proves his legacy and impact as team principal stretched outside of F1.
Sir Frank Williams
Sir Patrick Head and Sir Frank Williams
At the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, Sir Frank Williams stepped down as team principal. Williams has been head of the team for 43 years and he has left behind one amazing legacy.
What stands out about Williams Racing is their independent status as a team. They've always been a customer team but they didn't care. 1979 saw their first win and a year later, only three years into them being a team, they won their first constructors and drivers title.
Sir Frank created some of the most unbelievable cars we have ever seen within F1, which is proved by the nine constructors titles and the seven drivers titles. The names attached to Williams' titles are amazing; Prost, Piquet, Rosberg, Mansell and Hill, just to name a few, most of their titles are of those who were icons in the sport. Williams' leadership just showcased what a small independent team could do.
With all that, despite his car crash which left him paralysed, he continued as team principal and continued to help the team go up in status. I think it is the fight that Williams has had with him team which has formed him into one of the best team principals which we have seen in F1.
This man created some of the most beautiful F1 cars, ever and no one can tell me otherwise. Chapman is known for his iconic team Lotus. Lotus won six drivers titles and seven constructors titles. But sadly are no longer a name in F1 today. But they still hold a long legacy in the sport.
Chapman was an innovator, he did a lot which still stands in F1 today. He pioneered many different elements of cars from the monocoque chassis, wings on the car to using downforce. He played a major impact on the engineering side of F1, there are too many things that he did in F1 to list in this article.
Innovation is what makes Chapman's legacy as a team principal. He did so much for the engineering side, he created beautiful cars which stood out not just because they were different.
Colin Chapman and Jim Clark
His impact stretched out of F1, as he also created cars to race in the Indy 500, which he, of course, won in 1965 with the legendary Jim Clark.
He also managed to attract some of the best drivers. As mentioned Jim Clark was a key part of Lotus but there were others such as Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Dan Gurney. There was a high level of talent in each of his cars.
I think one of the most iconic cars ever is the Lotus 25, driven by notably Clark. This car won fourteen races. It was a thing of beauty. It was just one of the many Chapman managed to design. It is one of those cars still talked of today just showing how Chapman was one of the best.
Schuamcher and Todt
Before becoming president of the FIA, Todt was one hell of a team principal. Jean Todt has done a lot of work within motorsport and still at 74 continues to do just that.
But his impact in Formula 1 came at the Scuderia. He was apart of the "Dream Team" as they were labelled. The dream team is, of course, himself, Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher, during Ferrari's glory days of the 2000s. This is where Todt placed himself into team principal and F1 history.
In 1994 he joined Ferrari and it was two years later where he started to form the team that would dominate F1 and set records, that seemed unbeatable (Of course, until Lewis Hamilton decided to show up).
It is similar to Toto Wolff, Todt has impacted a team and engaged a team to keep winning. He made sure to recruit those at the top of the sport so that the dominance and the brilliant cars would keep coming.
From 1999-2004 Todt led one of the best teams ever to brace F1. He took Ferrari to place the team have not been since. Todt was able to create an impact on the Italian team, to the point where he stayed with them until he was appointed head of the FIA.
Where to start with Toto Wolff, well he may have just formed the best team Formula 1 has ever seen in Mercedes AMG Petronas. Seven world titles in a row have been engineered by this team, as we all know.
Wolff has been a fundamental part of this team and their legacy in formula 1, which will forever be known due to the records they have created.
Wolff's relationship with Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda stands out as a key part of the team and how they have achieved the level of success. We could see it when Hamilton took title number seven, the way himself and Wolff celebrated just showed the bond they had.
You cannot overlook Wolff the level of success his team has achieved was never expected to happen. He took over from Ross Brawn at just the right time and led Mercedes down a never-ending (or so it seems) winning road.
But it isn't just his work within Mercedes on the car and the drivers, it is his help to the likes of Hamilton in increasing diversity. Wolff has made sure through Mercedes that the problems we have seen this year, with Black Lives Matter, have been heard. This just adds to Wolff's status as a team principal because he has not only on the track made an impact with a team but he has made sure to do it off track as well.
Now, I'll clarify, I think Ross Brawn is the best team principal we've ever seen for so many reasons. Brawn for me personally has made one of the biggest impacts in F1, and that is maybe because I grew up when he was one of the big names in F1 and his work was well talked about (not that it still isn't).
There is so much we can pick out for Brawn but the best place to prove how good he was? We all known. 2009, Brawn GP, now Mercedes AMG Petronas. Brawn bought out Honda, after the financial crash in 2008, as we all know it cost him a quid to buy the team.
The single British pound probably was the best pound he's ever spent. As it turned into one brilliant story and that was the 2009 World Championship. The team thanks to some unbelievable engineering took both titles. This one year of Brawn's career just showcased how good he was.
Of course, there are other points to look at. He was a technical director at Benetton, while Michael Schumacher was in the car and helped take the team to two world titles.
Some of his better known years, was as I mentioned before in the Ferrari "dream team" with Todt and Schumacher where they took six consecutive titles.
On a personal note of where I think he becomes one of the best, the sport has seen. You have to look to his time with Mercedes, it was only three years and sure it didn't come with titles and a lot of wins. But he laid out the groundwork for the best team in F1.
He reconciled with Schumacher, to start the Mercedes journey, which just showed the legacy he had. But in 2012 with known help from Niki Lauda got probably the key part of Mercedes on board, Hamilton.
Brawn did so much for the sport in his time and still is doing so now. He has had one hell of an impact, like all the others I have talked about, his name will be up there as one of the best.
So many team principals have made an impact in F1 and I just picked out a selected few who I think have made one of the biggest impacts in F1, from creating icon cars to creating world champions, to evolving F1 with the likes of a double diffuser, to asserting dominance as a team. They have all done something which makes them have a legacy and stand out in F1 history.