Adam Parr: It was hard to leave but I do not miss it

Adam Parr and his new book

Daniel Biały: Do you miss F1? Was it hard for you to leave it behind?

Adam Parr: It was hard to leave but I do not miss it. Since I left F1 five years ago, I have helped launch 10 businesses, written two books, completed a PhD and worked with amazing people that I would never have met if I had stayed in F1. But much of that was made possible by my time in F1 – for which I am very grateful. In particular I made two relationships in Formula One which shape my life now – with Max Mosley and Sam Michael. Max and I have a little venture capital fund together that has been investing in technology start-ups and spin-outs from Oxford University for the last few years; and Sam and I have co-founded a business in machine learning which Sam runs from Australia.

DB: Ross Brawn is an important part of Liberty Media team. Maybe there is also a room for Adam Parr?

AP: No!

DB: You spent long hours together working on your latest book „Total Competition”. Is that changed your point of view on F1 and your journey with Williams?

AP: Actually, writing my first book, The Art of War – Five Years in Formula One, was the opportunity to reflect on my time – and especially on where I went wrong. The book with Ross was about him, although of course you learn about yourself when you listen to someone else carefully, especially if they have had to operate in the same world and had experiences similar and different to you.

DB: Reading your book there is a feeling you think you lost the battle with Bernie Ecclestone. You lost personal battle but maybe you won a bigger prize? No customer cars, Williams is still on the grid and now it became something more than „just” a racing team (Williams Advanced Engineering etc.).

AP: I am very proud of what Williams achieved as a team during those five years; and what the sport achieved in terms of reducing costs and surviving difficult times. But I am not sure that it is true there are no customer teams in F1 – and that is very bad news. And now neither Bernie nor I are in F1. That is just life!

DB: Last week I had a chance to watch „Williams” movie. It’s a great story and what is more important it’s real. Frank built something unique. Do you think „small” racing teams can compete with factory teams? What Ross can do to help (give another chance) teams like Williams or Sauber? Maybe you have some ideas?

AP: Ross needs to work with the FIA to introduce new engine regulations that massively reduce power unit costs and equalise performance. We got engine costs down from €25 million to about £5 million a year; but now they are £15 million a year again. That is outrageous. Second, the gap in performance needs to be much narrower. Not because I don’t like technology but because (a) unlike the chassis you don’t renew your engine each year, so if you are behind you are likely to stay behind (b) only a few teams make their own engines – why should an independent team’s performance be determined by an engine that it does not make – especially when it is paying so much for it?

DB: Is it all about money?

AP: It is said that drivers care about, money, sex and racing in some order. I think in F1 people generally care about power, money and competing. All three, to different degrees. But 99% would rather win than be rich.

DB: Strategy – this word were used 190 times in your book. Do you think it has a lot in common with a success in F1 and in other areas?

AP: Only 190 times?! Strategy is the process by which you overcome obstacles to achieve defined goals. It is the ‘how’ of everything that we do in every aspect of our lives. So, yes!

DB: How important is to have the right people in place? How to find them? How to get their trust?

AP: Getting the right people is the most important (but not the only thing). You hunt them out, then you persuade them to join you. You gain their trust by ‘treating them the way you would like to be treated.’

DB: Total Domination is the name of the game in F1 in last years. After Red Bull now Mercedes is on the top. They fully deserved that but it’s quite… borring. Do you believe this will change after 2020?

AP: Yes it should if the regulations change – but of course a driver and team combination may emerge that is still dominant. Also, remember that if the cars are closer in performance, it’s only down to the driver so there is a risk that one driver wins everything. When people say a sport is boring they need to avoid thinking that once it was different. Williams dominated, McLaren dominated, Ferrari dominated, Renault dominated … and those were the ‘Golden Years’ of F1 …

DB: „Total Competition” is full of interesting and spicy stories. Are there many left in your notebook or memory? Should we expect another book with your name on the cover?

AP: Yes – but it will be on history!

DB: I need to ask this question. You were close to Williams and now Robert Kubica is trying to secure a racing seat in Williams. What do you think about this? Is it possible? What he can offer to the team?

AP: I tried to get Kubica to Williams and we had serious discussions. I hope that he rejoins F1 and it would be great if it were at Williams. He is a brave and resolute man who has worked hard to rebuild his life and his career. A true Pole!