Accelleron and Sauber Motorsport: where teamwork drives success

F1 partnership update | Baden, Switzerland | Oct 12, 2023

Alone in the cockpit at speeds that can tip beyond 200mph, a Formula 1 driver’s chances of winning a Grand Prix are very much dependent on the car beneath them. Their own talent will only take them so far. On-track success in F1 depends on the support the driver is given by the team around them.

The hundreds of people behind the scenes in an F1 team are the ones that have the power to create a race-winning machine – by combining their expertise and driving towards a single goal. Teamwork drives success in F1. And the same rules apply at Accelleron.

A key aspect of Accelleron’s technology partnership with Sauber Motorsport, the company that runs Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, is the sharing of knowledge to enable successful teamwork. After all, Sauber’s 550-strong workforce operate in arguably the most competitive teamwork environment in the world.

As two Swiss-based companies operating at the peak of their respective industries, Accelleron and Sauber are comparing teamworking philosophies that drive success in Formula 1 with those that ensure world-class service for turbocharging customers.

The question for Accelleron is: ‘can teamwork methods and processes developed in the heat of Formula 1 competition benefit our organisation and our customers?’ Annika Parkkonen, Accelleron’s Chief Human Resources and Sustainability Officer, heads the team exploring this subject.

Teamwork, trust and motivation

“I very much believe in high-performing teams – it’s a subject very close to my heart,” Annika says. “When you have worked in one, when you've had that experience, you don't settle for less. And that’s a feeling I would like all our colleagues to share.

“People thrive most when they work in an environment where a team is pulling together, when there’s trust among individuals, there is a willingness to support one another, and the motivation to achieve higher goals.”

As an organisation that first entered Formula 1 in 1993, Sauber has spent the last 30 years fine-tuning its teamworking processes to achieve maximum performance.  

“This partnership allows us to draw upon Sauber’s knowledge and experiences, and provides another valuable perspective,” Annika explains. “When it comes to teamwork, whether in sport or in business, when you have a high-performing team around you, that's when you can perform miracles.”

Accelleron’s Head of Group People & Advancement, Thomas Lienhardt, plays a key role in developing a teamwork training concept with Sauber. He believes that for teams to work well, and to achieve their goals, individuals must be well trained and able to execute their own role in the process – as well as understanding the vital contribution others make. 

“We see this in Formula 1,” Thomas says. “The person who lifts up the front of the car at a pit stop needs to know when those at the rear of the car are finished. The feeling of anticipation and automation, almost without thinking, is what makes a great team.” 

And for Thomas, the perennial search for a sporting advantage in F1 is another area of particular interest. “A great-performing team will always have the same focus in relation to its challenges; a desire to do a better job than it did yesterday. It can be tough if you are really good at something and always want to improve, and that applies to both our organisations. 

“This links to the sense of confidence that we have at Accelleron as a new, independent business. We must believe we can go further to achieve even greater things in the future.”

Reinforcing company values

Accelleron’s four key values are inextricably linked to the mindset required to deliver strong teamwork: trust, going further, curiosity, and entrepreneurship.

Trust is the most fundamental component of teamwork. If individuals can trust each other to deliver the best job possible, this understanding and togetherness can unlock a whole world of possibility. Accelleron is benefiting from Sauber’s experience when it comes to underlining the importance of trust, particularly when good teamwork is at stake.

“We have launched a new training initiative for our middle managers,” Thomas explains. “During this exercise, our employees went to Sauber’s HQ in Hinwil and were able to see how the operation was structured. They also took part in a hands-on pitstop simulation in which trust is a key element.

“For Accelleron, trust is almost like the mothership of everything we do. When it comes to our interactions, our customer focus and especially entrepreneurship, trust is the number one element. The pitstop challenge was a perfect way to illustrate this and to get everyone to feel the situation and their commitment to each other.”

When determined to develop and improve as a team, it is also important to adopt an appropriate mindset and set of expectations. For already high-performing organisations, where large and sudden gains are unrealistic, a consistent supply of smaller wins is more often the target. This is an ethic instilled at Accelleron through a range of training initiatives.

“We have brought into the training at Accelleron the mindset of ‘innovation versus continuous improvement’,” Thomas continues. “When we were learning about teamwork during the pitstop challenge, we were trying to emphasise that innovation does not always have to require something big to be achieved. When we broke down the exercise into little elements, we considered where we could make our gains and innovate. Where could we do something different? 

“With Sauber and Formula 1 in general, the ethos is about recording continuous improvement under pressure. That is so inspiring.”

Trust within a team can be secured by having a collaborative mindset, an openness to new ideas and a competitive attitude. These qualities are commonplace in Formula 1. And they closely match Accelleron’s key values. They indicate not just who we are today, but who we want to be in the future.

  “The partnership with Sauber is super beneficial because, in addition to trust, we can do so much with Formula 1 when it comes to ‘going further’,” Thomas points out.

Change and adapt – at F1 speed

The value of entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with curiosity, as Accelleron strives to uncover new ways of working. Whether that results in more sustainable practices, greater integration of new technology, product innovations or just a fresh approach to a challenge, adapting to changing circumstances in order to behave in a better way offers huge opportunities.

“In Formula 1, the rules and competitive framework are constantly changing. Today’s cars look totally different compared to a few years ago. Nevertheless, each team adapted,” Thomas says. “We have also tried to learn from this; how do you successfully adapt to completely new rules at such speed?

“Therefore, we have studied from Sauber how to process change and encourage entrepreneurship to motivate our people. For me, Sauber is a wonderful example.”

Just like when Alfa Romeo F1 Team drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are competing for world championship points, trust is the name of the game. That is why the main focus of Accelleron’s current training chapter is centred around this crucial trait.

Overall, to work successfully, individuals must believe they can achieve their goals and think creatively about how these can be met. However, there is one overarching way in which teams within Accelleron and Sauber can operate to achieve their respective goals: together.

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