REVIEWING LAS VEGAS AND THE 2015 RBAR SEASON
We have just finished our best season to date in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, finishing ranked number 2 in the World, only 5 points shy of first. We ended up 37 points clear of 3rd place, had 7 out of 8 races on the podium, and won 2 of the last 3 races of the season.
So what did we do differently this year? It came down to the team structure and my personal mindset while racing. To put it simply, stabilization during the year, and an error free culture.
In previous years, we have undergone large changes from season to season, especially in the team and the roles the team has. This always leads to a lot of stress for all concerned, as people are learning their jobs in a somewhat stressful environment. This year was the first year we completed that had the exact team from the previous year. The cohesion, trust, communication and dedication to role was a dramatic improvement to any other season to date.
We have also changed items during the year in previous years, and tested these changes in the track during race week. This year we elected to conduct all of our development pre season, then accept what we had for the race season. Quite often it is very tempting to chase those extra bits of speed and performance during the year, seeing what other people are doing, or coming up with ideas yourself. It is very easy to convince yourself that you can do better with this or that mod, only to find the results are inconclusive and you have distracted yourself in the meantime from the primary task of racing the current set up. Second guessing starts to occur, and the focus is gone.
Lastly, error free culture. This seems to be a no brainer, though in competition when trying to win races, it is easy to push yourself to no margin between success and error while looking for the result. We decided as a team to commence the year with a different set of goals than previous. In years gone by, we had set goals such as 4 podiums, 1 race win, within striking distance of the championship on the last race. These are all results based goals, which forces pushing harder and harder during the year, leading to errors.
This year, we set ourselves process driven goals. Have the aircraft race ready by training session 1. Find the perfect race line and then stick to in by the end of training session 2. No errors from training session 3 onwards. All we did now was assess our performance based on these simple goals. And it worked. By following a very clear process, and debriefing appropriately, we were able to improve our race line and flying style much more efficiently, and the results showed it.
We were constantly asked right up to the last race, what are our tactics going into this one. We were probably the most boring team out there, as even with the World Championship on the line at the last race, my answer would be “follow our process, and see what happens”!
Chase your Dreams!