Rosie Wait and Hannah Schmitz, these strategists who change the course of the Grand Prix

We don’t see her strolling around the paddock in a hurry, nor her eyebrows furrowed on the pit wall, these workstations installed on the low wall separating the stands from the starting line of the Grand Prix. Rosie Wait, Mercedes strategist, has something of a well-kept secret. The 35-year-old Englishwoman is in charge of a team of nine, and while the team argues that strategy is teamwork, it’s hard not to see her as the heiress of James Vowles, who was for twelve years the undisputed master in the field. Having left to lead the Williams team, the British engineer left behind a team plagued by doubt after a difficult 2022 season.

“I have always been impressed by his ability to stay calmsays Rosie Wait, from the factory in Brackley, a hundred kilometers northwest of London. But, in six years, I think I learned even more from him outside of the races, about managing pressure and the importance of focusing on what is essential. »

Left on maternity leave in June 2021, when the competition is raging between Mercedes and Red Bull, Rosie Wait finds, a year later, a team which has not won this season. “Obviously, it was frustrating to see that from afarshe recalls. But what reassured me was that when I came back the team was concentrating on what needed to be improved and wasting no time looking for culprits. »

This year, the task is likely to be tough again. After the first two Grands Prix of the season, the Mercedes W14 is struggling to catch up with the leading pack made up of Red Bull and surprise guests, Fernando Alonso and his Aston Martin. In this context, the strategies defined by Rosie Wait can save a race.

Read also: Formula 1: the 2023 season in five figures

“You really feel the adrenaline”

His very first as a strategist, in 2012, at the time for McLaren, is an example of this: twenty laps from the finish of the Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton leads the race but is called back to the pits for a second pit stop. ; on the moment, he gives up his first place but this choice will allow him to win in the last laps. “That day, we made the right decision and the others made the wrong one. During those little moments when your choices can make the difference, you really feel the adrenaline. » In Spain in 2021, just before going on maternity leave, Mercedes still owes him the victory at Hamilton thanks to a timely choice of tires.

“I like more and more geek stuff, analyzing data to find new interpretations”, explains Rosie Wait

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