Monday, 1 October 2007

Lesson in Mastery from the Formula One Race at the Japanese Fuji Speedway

The Grand Prix Formula One race at Fuji Speedway, Japan, the first in 30 years, was a lesson in mastery and a thrilling race that will probably be talked about and analysed by fans for years to come. It was particularly sweet for Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) who, with his win, opened up a 12 point lead over his nearest rival and team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Heavy rain that hardly abated throughout the duration of the race made the racing track so treacherous that the race started behind the safety car. The incessant downpour made the track a living thing whose surface was continually changing.

Mist obscured sections of the track so that even the commentators had difficulty in seeing the action clearly. The driver's helmets were foggy. Their side mirrors were rendered useless and they could hardly see what was in front of them.

A Formula One driver has to use his senses of sight, hearing and touch when driving. Yet even bringing these senses to a heightened state of awareness was often to no avail. These exceptionally skilled and conditioned drivers were often just along for the ride as their cars even though equipped with Bridgestone's extreme wet tyres still couldn't shift enough water to enable their deep treads to get a grip on the slippery surface.

All of the drivers experienced moments when their car aquaplaned and they were rendered passengers trapped inside their technical masterpieces. Aquaplaning caused Alonso to crash out at Turn 6 leaving a trial of debris across the track. The collision brought out the safety car for a second time. And, for Alonso, any thoughts of breaking that elusive 100-point barrier were put on hold.

It was something that Hamilton said after the race which he admitted felt like the longest race of his life that made me reflect on the subject of mastery. He had never driven in wet conditions before and it was a tribute to his natural talent a racing driver how well he drove during that dramatic race. It was like watching a master-class although even he was not to escape unscathed. Robert Kubica (BMW) side-whacked him and his car spun off the track. It was a tense moment and a relief to see him steer the car back onto the track again.

Fortunately, although Hamilton said he could hear an ominous vibration in his car which persisted throughout the remainder of the race, any damage that was caused was not serious enough to force him to make a premature departure from the race. So what was it he said?

"The last few laps the team were telling me to slow down as I was a second faster than anyone else but I was going as slow, really, as I felt comfortable doing."

For a non-racing driver hurtling along at speeds in excess of 100 mph in such wet conditions where you often cannot even see the other drivers would seem suicidal. But for Hamilton it was a thrill. You could see it in his face afterwards, not simply because he won the event but because, in so doing, he had passed another test and demonstrated his prowess as a racing driver. Team Manager, Ron Dennis, said over the radio:

"So we can tick off racing in the wet, then?"

David Coulthard (Red Bull) sums up this particular Grand Prix experience beautifully and honestly:

"That was very, very difficult. It's a crazy thing to be a racing driver. On the one hand you're scared, but on the other you're having the time of your life because every moment you're right on the edge even on the straights."

When you become a master at something it becomes easy. Hamilton has not only mastered Formula One racing but he has also conquered his mindset. It is this that enables him to give outstanding performances under the most demanding of conditions. There were some drivers who felt that the race should not have been held at all. That's up for debate but a true champion likes to be tested.

When you achieve mastery, creating outstanding performances time and time again and achieving outstanding results will become the norm. It will seem effortless. You will find that to perform at anything less than this level will actually be more demanding. You too will not want to slow down.

Discover Your True Passion in Life

Take The Passion Test - a simple yet powerful tool that allows anyone to discover their passions and clarify what matters most to them in life.

Take me to The Passion Test

No comments:

Post a Comment