As the successor to Otmar Szafnauer, Mike Krack has to lead the five-year plan at Aston Martin to success. Shortly after taking office, the new team boss reveals why he chose the Silverstone team and how he intends to tackle the new task.
There are certainly easier tasks in Formula 1 than being the team boss at Aston Martin. Racing team owner Lawrence Stroll is considered a tough dog who is used to success in his business life. If things don't go well in terms of sport, the staff is quickly replaced. And recently, unfortunately, there was hardly anything positive to report about the track.
Aston Martin slipped down to seventh place in the Constructors' Cup last year. Even newcomer Sebastian Vettel could not stop the descent. The man from Heppenheim put up a good fight, but the car rarely showed itself to be competitive. And when things went reasonably well, bad luck struck – like in Hungary, for example, where Vettel was disqualified after his second place.
2022 is supposed to be the big turnaround. With the new car, Aston Martin wants to compete regularly for championship points again. Ideally, the display cabinet in Silverstone should also be filled with a few new trophies. Not only a better car should help, but also the new team boss. In winter, BMW head of sport Mike Krack was hired to fill Otmar Szafnauer's vacant team boss position.
First contact in November 2021
Szafnauer had announced his departure from the factory racing team at the turn of the year. But the decision had apparently been made for a long time. At the end of November 2021, Krack was contacted for the first time, as the Luxembourger revealed in his initial interview with the press: "I caught Corona at the IMSA race in 'Petit Le Mans'. After that I was in quarantine in the home office for two weeks I got a call from a headhunter agency."
At first, Krack didn't know exactly what kind of job it was. He was only informed that it was a high-profile position in Formula 1. "I immediately signaled my interest. Formula 1 has a great attraction for me. It's like for a footballer who really wants to play in the Champions League. For us, Formula 1 is the Champions League."
According to Krack, the conversations became more and more concrete over time. Finally, it also became clear that it was about the position of Aston Martin team boss. In personal meetings with Lawrence Stroll and Martin Whitmarsh, the cooperation was finally sealed with a handshake. During this phase, Krack had no contact with his old protégé Sebastian Vettel. "I didn't want to be swayed by an opinion. Also, the negotiations were confidential. You can't talk to anyone about it."
Five-year plan at Aston Martin
However, Krack couldn't simply leave his old post as BMW head of sport. The contract provided for a longer transition phase. "My successor Andreas Roos came to BMW on February 1st. The only way for me to switch to the new job early was to train my successor for four weeks. That's why I was scheduled to start work on March 1st," explained Krack.
He doesn't get much time to settle into his new job. At the end of the month, the first races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are already on the agenda. The long-term goals have already been defined. According to owner Stroll, a five-year plan should lead Aston Martin to the top of the premier class. For this purpose, the racing team's headquarters in Silverstone are investing diligently in the infrastructure.
Krack reminds the situation of his first Formula 1 time at Sauber 20 years ago: "Most of the time we made a lot out of our limited possibilities. And then, in 2006, BMW came along as a big partner. Suddenly we could do things that we couldn't do before. That's why the situation is very appealing to me now. But just the idea of working in Formula 1 was super attractive for me."
The BMW project ended prematurely in 2009. It didn't work out with the targeted title win. "We also had a five-year Plan. But it was processed in the style of a large company. We have to avoid that at all costs. We have a very lean structure here and can make quick decisions. That's not always the case with the factory teams."
Don't turn everything upside down
Krack couldn't say exactly what awaits him in his new role. He wants to get an idea for himself first." We have a great team here at Silverstone. It has always boxed above its weight class. I'm currently having a lot of conversations with the department heads to understand how the team operates. I want to know where the strengths lie and where we need to get even better."
But Krack definitely doesn't want to completely turn the shop upside down: "It would be stupid to want to turn everything upside down here on the first day. We have a great management team with a lot of experience. Our employees themselves know exactly what is needed to take the next steps. You can't plan for success. But you can create the right conditions for it."
Like McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl, Krack combines the technical understanding of an engineer with the organizational talents of a manager. Upon taking office, he explained how he wants to fill the new post: "Of course it's in It is important for this job to understand the technical background. But my strengths are not in the development of the car.I see myself more as someone who brings people together, who forms teams and gives them the necessary trust. There's no point hiring smart people who then don't work well together. The team is everything. We have to pull together with the whole team."