Making the right strategy choices is crucial to any F1 team’s chances of success.

Whether it’s pitting on the correct lap, picking a one-stop or two-stop strategy, or perhaps fitting the intermediate tyres at the right time, these decisions ultimately play a significant factor in a driver winning or losing a race or world championship.

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Especially when the level of car performance is so close at the front, the pit wall’s role is even more important.

Hannah Schmitz is Red Bull’s principal strategy engineer, while Rosie Wait is head of strategy at Mercedes.

Schmitz and Wait are key figures of their respective F1 teams and will no doubt play an integral role in whether Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton or George Russell is world champion at the end of F1 2023.

In a sport that is dominated by men, Schmitz and Wait are inspirational given their respective rises through the ranks and the seniority of their roles.

But what do we know about them?

Schmitz caught the media headlines during the middle part of the 2022 F1 season following Verstappen’s incredible 10th to 1st performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Red Bull once again out-foxed main rivals Ferrari and Mercedes to take the win at the Hungaroring. 

“You can't afford many mistakes,” Verstappen said after the race in Hungary.

“It's of course very hard to always be on the good side, let's say it like that. But I think we have a lot of good guys and girls in the team.

“Today, I think Hannah, our strategist, was insanely calm. Yeah, she's very good.”

With Verstappen specifically naming Schmitz for the role she played in his sensational victory, it gave important spotlight to a very talented female engineer in motorsport.

Schmitz started her F1 career with Red Bull after graduating from Cambridge University with a Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering. 

She initially joined Red Bull as an intern before holding the role of modelling and simulation engineer.

She soon joined the strategy team for the 2011 season, helping Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull win three more drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

It was the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix where she stood on the podium alongside Verstappen after a switch to the soft tyres under the Safety Car allowed the Dutchman to topple Hamilton.

Had it not been for Hamilton’s contact with Alex Albon, it’s likely it would have been a Red Bull 1-2.

Now as principal strategy engineer, Schmitz continues to guide Red Bull to more glory, out-classing both Mercedes and Ferrari on countless occasions when it comes to pit wall decisions over the last two years.

“I think there’s a lot of people that initially maybe don’t have the confidence in you to do the job,” she told Red Bull’s official website.

“As a strategist you have to tell a lot of people what to do and they’ve got to listen to you, so it’s building up that trust and I think as a woman unfortunately that was harder, but now I have that respect and I hope other young women who want to get into the sport will see that you can do it, can embrace it, and we’ll see more diversity.”

With James Vowles moving to Williams as their new team principal for F1 2023, Wait will likely have increased responsibility at Mercedes.

Like her rival strategist, Wait studied at the University of Cambridge before joining McLaren in 2008 as a vehicle dynamics engineer.

She spent three years at the Woking team as their strategy engineer and another year with Williams before moving to Mercedes.

Since December 2018, Wait has been Mercedes’ head of race strategy, working alongside Vowles as the team saw Hamilton win two more world titles, while Mercedes became eight-time champions in 2021.

Wait played an integral role in Hamilton overcoming Verstappen at the 2019 Hungarian GP - a race that sticks in her mind as one of her best.

“The most rewarding? For me, Budapest 2019 was amazing, I was on the pit wall and we were coming off the back of what had been a difficult race [in Germany],” she told F1’s official website.

“I felt quite a lot of pressure on the team as whole and on my team’s shoulders especially. We converted to a two-stop race strategy, which was a really difficult call because it’s not easy to overtake in Budapest. But we pulled it off and had such a strong race.

"It was an amazing feeling and being there, seeing it happen, made it even better.”

While strategy decisions don’t lay on just one person’s shoulders, there’s no doubt that Schmitz and Wait’s will play pivotal roles in this year’s title race.

Red Bull have had the upper hand over the rest of the grid in recent years, whether that’s Verstappen or their strategy team led by Schmitz’s brilliance.

All the focus will be on Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari’s new cars over the next month or so but the outcome of this 2023 F1 world championship will come down to much more than just that.