Thoughts of a World Champion

After a couple of months of distance from an active role in the world of Formula 1, we met reigning F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg to talk to him about topics that affect us all.

In a world where everything is happening so fast, decisions need to be made within split seconds, how do you set your priorities? When it feels like time is running out, would you have thought that slowing down and taking more time for certain things might be the key to success? According to Nico, it's the simple things that can make a difference.

Decision making is crucial for business and private life alike. While we often rely on careful planning when making decisions, sometimes instincts can prove to be the right guide through key moments. Watch Nico talk about some of the most important decisions in his life and how he had to learn to go against a certain kind of addiction.

Being a firm believer in empowerment, Nico Rosberg knows how important trust is to enable superior performance in a team. Click play for his further comments on empathy and second chances.

In order to stay ahead of competition, change and innovation are indispensable. To secure future success, Formula 1 teams have to plan very far in advance. Nico Rosberg shares how he has experienced legacy, from a professional and a personal side.

Further Information

The Attention Paradox: Winning By Slowing Down

More UBS F1 videos


Man vs. Machine?

Increasingly state-of-the-art and long since a staple of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is currently reemerging, contributing to the broader trend of intelligent automation. Knowingly and unknowingly, we are starting to experience AI on a regular basis, be it through Apple’s Siri or the memory features of the cars we drive.

With the advancement of intelligent automation, numerous benefits are expected to impact on the way that businesses are conducted. The banking industry expects intelligent automation to contribute to increased productivity, the generation of insights and even decision-making in the near future. But across other industries as well, routine work will increasingly be executed by machines, empowering humans to concentrate on more creative, value-added services.

Hosted by UBS as part of the Singapore Grand Prix thought leadership platform, the Man vs. Machine event in September 2016 brought together insiders from a range of different sectors. The event featured guests such as James Vowles, Chief Strategist at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and Nico Rosberg, F1 World Champion 2016. James Aylen, Head of UBS Evolve (Centre for Design Thinking and Innovation), was then joined by Simon Kahn, Dr. Jeremy Lim and Sopnendu Mohanty for a panel discussion on decision-making in light of progressive automation trends.

Picture the brand new Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+. Considering the uses of AI in other industries, one would expect it come into play in this symbol of technological progress. Yet, as James Vowles points out, it features only to a very basic extent. While a large amount of data is generated, and not only every time the Silver Arrow is driven, there are limitations to measurement and application alike.

Where AI does prove valuable is in digesting the information generated by all the various trackers used on the car during a race - according to Vowles, the team relies heavily on computing systems to use the data live and effectively. "We found that we couldn’t model the race to decide what the optimal strategy was, but what we ended up doing, which is far better, is we now model each of the strategists. What would they do in this circumstance? What information are they receiving and how would they react?" This applies to most tasks that are repetitive in nature and involve a high volume output. "Right now, you would not be able to do anything near what we’re doing in the race without any computing power whatsoever, any technology, any data - the world has changed."

Another application of AI in Formula One is dealing with events that are too variable for the human brain. Overtaking, for example, might look easy on TV but, as the chief strategist asks, "Why does it happen? Why does it sometimes not happen?" His team uses deep neural nets to troll through the gigabytes of data and tell them what they need to know. With this information, the team can then start to construct models.

Drivers on the other hand, being human and thus dynamic, are much more difficult to model. A similar problem applies to the car – the machine that we see race after race is actually merely a prototype and thus everything but static. Around 25 to 30 components are added every race weekend, and adapting to the rate of technological innovation throughout the year is actually more feasible for humans than robots.

Plans in general, he says, are close to redundant: "It’s all probabilities, and any plan that you form gets thrown out of the window as soon as the cars start off the line. Now we’re up to something close to one million worth of scenarios. A lot of those will be a waste of time, but what it allows us to do, going into the race, is to find out what we’re sensitive to and what can we say to Nico and Lewis to make sure that, as they go into the race, they have a very clear understanding of what they should be doing at various points."

This is an example of where industries and insights merge. While Formula One has provided other disciplines with technical input in the past, it was actually financial market modeling that led Vowles to the idea of using models in this way. And so, while predicting the variability of a market is not easy, it is possible to predict what the traders will do, he explains, making the analogy to Formula One.

AI, as described by Google APAC CMO Simon Kahn, is currently enabling machines to work with software, take inputs and develop insights that they wouldn’t normally be able to generate. As a result of learning through neural nets, the machines start new patterns and outcomes that then plug in to other actions - instead of being programmed, they thus get smarter by taking in tons of data, digesting it and then using it efficiently. Despite the advancement of AI and the evolving possibilities, Kahn sees its future not in cost-cutting measures, but in opportunities to grow new industries instead.

In healthcare, Dr. Jeremy Lim of Oliver Wyman sees AI as a way to provide more efficient and cost-effective treatment rather than as a replacement for services that are best provided by medical staff. Pattern recognition, for example, which is still mostly done by humans, holds a lot of potential for cost cutting and giving humans more time to do more complex tasks. While, in the future, machines will be able to help to narrow down a diagnosis, AI will never be able to replace doctors and the relationships that are crucial to doctor-patient interaction. Healthcare will be comparatively late to adapt, however, as there are a host of legal issues that will need to be resolved first.

In the finance sector, the recent, ongoing explosion of data has made it almost impossible to make sense of information without programs, according to Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Consequently, he predicts, the industry will not be disrupted, but changed completely in the sense of an infrastructural shift. In the insurance sector, a more profound impact can already be observed - with the ability of AI to react to the complexity level of daily decisions, he sees new business opportunities when it comes to the pricing of premiums and the way that micro insurance is done.

Mohanty estimates that about 50 to 70 million jobs will be impacted by AI in the near future. Dramatic as this might sound to our ears today, Kahn puts it into perspective, saying that "we’re several years away from technology taking over," and emphasizing that "the ones who will be successful will be those who still apply fundamental principles."

Despite the diversity of perspectives, all the experts agreed on one point: in the future, it will not be man versus machine, but rather man with machine.

Nico Rosberg at the Man vs. Machine event in Singapore, September 2016


Man vs. Machine
September 14th, 2016


James Vowles
Chief Strategist at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport 

Nico Rosberg
Formula 1 World Champion 2016


James Aylen
Head of UBS Evolve (Centre for Design Thinking and Innovation)

Simon Kahn
CMO, Google APAC

Dr. Jeremy Lim
Partner and Head of Health & Life Sciences, Asia Pacific, Oliver Wyman

Sopnendu Mohanty
Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore


Toto Wolff - F1 Entrepreneur

As different as success stories can be, there are elements that most of them share. Setbacks, big or small, for instance, can happen to anybody at any time. How you deal with them and come out the other side will eventually define your success, according to Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. "Success shouldn't be judged at halftime. The day you retire you need to judge whether you've been successful or not.", he says.

The position Toto finds himself in today is a perfect example of successfully overcoming a professional disappointment. His fascination for motorsport was sparked at a Formula 3 race at the age of 17, yet the entrepreneur soon had to come to terms with not having found his vocation in racing - despite scoring a class win at the 1994 24 Hours Nürburgring, he felt his skillset wasn´tquite rightfor a career as a professional driver. "In a world of specialists, you need to understand where your talent is and develop it.", says the businessman. Passion, he adds, is another key to success. He went on to pursue a career in banking, dedicating himself to building up his own investment companies in 1998 and 2004.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and several steps toward merging the investment business with his passion for racing, Toto is appointed Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport at the end of 2013. He now has full responsibility for the entire Mercedes-Benz motorsport program, from Formula One to DTM, sports cars, the Formula 3 engine program - and a team of 1200 people. "Whatever I do today is because the right people support me and I support them and the result is the result of a group," he says, pointing out the combination of skills and character that all the members of his team exhibit. He goes on to stress the importance of learning constantly throughout life: "As an adult, entrepreneur or employee you tend to forget that you can still develop new skill sets. We shouldn't stand still." The successful F1 entrepreneur describes himself as being in a constant loop of self-judgment, finding it important to see yourself in a realistic light.

What he never does is take risks. "I try to create a worst-case scenario and if I can cope with that scenario, I launch myself into the project." Characterizing himself as a half-empty glass kind of guy, Toto is convinced that in order to succeed, "you should never feel too comfortable, because the moment you think it´s easy is the moment you're going to fail."

Further Information

Watch our Wealth Management Stories to learn how UBS is working with entrepreneurs around the world to help them reach their goals.

Discover how we can help you take your business to the next level.

More UBS F1 videos