Security in current practice is all too often a reactive process. Strategy is defined only at the broadest level, and investment is made only after a significant security failure. In the wake of recent global incidents, it’s time to learn some lessons in strategy and response from some of the most effective teams in the world.
Mercedes have dominated the world of Formula 1 since 2014 and the rule change that hailed the end of the V8 era. Winning races is not just about having the best engine, support team or even a great driver. It isn’t realistic to expect a car to perform well relying on a set of brakes and randomly chosen tyres without considering the environmental aspects of the circuit and how they affect performance. There’s a huge amount of strategy and race planning that goes into achieving consistent world-beating results.
Each circuit has its own set of unique characteristics that define how the car needs to be set up. You can’t race the famous Monza circuit on the same race set-up as you would at Silverstone and expect to perform well at both. Monza is a low downforce track with the race running in Italian summer weather conditions, typically dry and warm. By contrast, Silverstone is a high downforce circuit, and (thanks to the joys of the British summer) can be a mixed bag with the weather.
In addition, the pit stop strategy can have a huge impact on the outcome of a race. The pit stop can be an opportunity to undercut other teams, and the fastest stops are the difference between winning and losing. And that’s without factoring in any mid-race issues that require emergency or unplanned stops.
There’s no question that successful race teams need great people, with the right tools in the right place to perform at their best, but that alone is not enough. There needs to be a clear understanding of the strategy to be used for each race across the team, and when and how components of that strategy are to be deployed. That strategy is based on a number of critical factors: the characteristics of the circuit (high/medium/low downforce), prevailing weather conditions (for tyre choice, which may also dictate tyre strategy), as well as reviewing the appropriateness of planned responses to potential race issues such as yellow flags, contact damage, or mechanical problems.
Security teams are often made up of great people, and the tools that are available to them are increasingly improving, but there is too often no coherent strategy to enable that team to perform at its best. This is the race team that runs on hope and a prayer, relying on the basic components of the car and driver alone and expecting miracles.
It is important that organisations develop their security strategy specific to the environment in which they operate, understand the risks and challenges within that environment, and deploy their resources accordingly, with response plans in place for unplanned events that are likely to occur at some point. This is the world-beating race team, with its car set up for the circuit it’s racing, the team clear on the race strategy, and able to respond effectively when the yellow flag comes out.