A professional who spent over 22 years in Formula 1, a recognised and respected expert in driver management and sponsorship acquisition, the Director of Media Sport Group, Mister Enrico Zanarini, gives us five tips on how to make drivers into racing stars.
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- BRING MONEY and you will be seen not only like the guy who takes a percentage of his earnings. Basically, a driver is a very selfish sportsman who believes his money belongs to nobody else but him. He will always argue with the manager on the percentage of his commission, accepting to pay twenty per cent at the beginning of the relationship but fighting to reduce it year after year. The trick is to bring personal sponsorship money to the driver, dollars he could not earn on his own. This money will compensate part or all of the commission and the driver will think that he has got your services for free.
- SUPPLY ONE EXTRA PAIR OF EYES when he is sitting in his car doing his job. Whilst the driver is busy at the wheel, strapped by his belts, the whole world of Formula 1 goes round and round making it impossible for him to understand what is going on without the faithful support of his manager. Among the priceless services a manager can offer in this field are: 1) opening your ears to the conversations between the management and technical staff during testing, practice and the race, 2) watching how much more attention is reserved to his teammate’s car in the garage, 3) having a feel for the drivers’ market, monitoring the situation and acting when times call for a change.
- KEEP FATHERS AWAY from the garage. In many cases, fathers are wonderful people, real gentlemen, but they often prove to have a negative influence on the driver. They truly believe that there can’t be a better person to judge their son’s performance in and out of the car. When they behave in such a manner, they shade the manager’s work. Persuading them to watch the GP from the grandstands is the key to success.
- DON’T BE A YES MAN, too many of those around, especially if the driver is a superstar. You must be a friend, often capable of offering the devil’s advocate side of the story. Discussions will come to a premature end if you always agree with your driver. Being a valuable counsellor does not necessarily mean that you must share his identical opinion at all times. Be controversial yet constructive, solutions are mostly found that way.
- BE ON CALL 24/7, this is not a nine-to-five job. Formula 1 races are run on weekends, and if you manage one of the 22 drivers in the championship, you must be prepared to throw 50% and more of your “conventional” holidays out of the window. And the rest, you may ask? Not much left between factory meetings, testing and sponsor appearances. Your mobile must be on at all times, prepared to receive the driver’s cry for help.