Loic Serra, James Allison, Mike Elliot. Do these names ring any bells for you?
Most likely, they will not, so I’ll tell you.
Loic, James and Mike are the Performance Director, Chief Technical Officer and Technical Director, respectively, for the Mercedes-AMG-Petronas Formula 1 team.
Amongst many others, of course, they’re the team ultimately responsible for the performance of the thing millions of people spend their weekends watching. Formula 1 fans would indeed be quite disappointed if, after sitting down with their leftover curry from the night before, they turned on their television to see the Mercedes technical team poring over spreadsheets, graphs and technical data. As would most people, I imagine.
No, viewers don’t want to tune in to clever people being very good at their jobs, they want to see the output from those jobs. They want to see the shiny metal thing go fast. I should say at this point, I know very little about Formula 1, but I do know the shiny metal thing goes fast and fans enjoy leftover curry on a Sunday afternoon.
This team analyses technical performance data on a granular level that the rest of us can barely comprehend. They test new theories of aerodynamics to try to gain milliseconds on the track. And crucially, they troubleshoot problems with the thoroughness and expertise of, well, an F1 technician.
Yet most people are unaware of the Mercedes technical team’s existence entirely. But without that group of people doing what they do, to the standard they do it, Formula 1 fans would have to settle for watching a real sport instead.