Volkswagen boss Jost Capito reflects on the team's success in the WRC, explains why team orders are taboo and looks to the future...

Q:
Jost, Nine titles in three years. Do you still have to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming?

Jost Capito:
Given the success we have enjoyed since 2013, the latest titles were perhaps not a complete shock. However, that does not make them any less extraordinary.

Q:
Three good reasons for the success?

Jost Capito:
Drivers, team and Volkswagen. Volkswagen provides the team with the means to be successful. However, that does not mean that you are automatically successful. It is the basis, on which to form a winning team, which is capable of being successful. The performance of the car is particularly important in rallying. However, compared to other sports, the driver is even more important. We have the three best drivers on board.

Q:
What role does Volkswagen Motorsport have in the big picture at Volkswagen?

Jost Capito:
Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH is an inherent part of the Volkswagen AG. We report to the heads of research and development. And it absolutely has to be that way. For a small company, it is impossible to develop a competitive car to the standards seen in the World Rally Championship without the support and know-how of an automobile manufacturer. There is an active exchange between the motorsport experts at Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH and the developers at Volkswagen AG. And, unlike other manufacturers, Volkswagen does not have an independent team to look after the cars, but instead has a works team that takes care of that side of things.

Q:
What role does that play?

Jost Capito:
It has a close relationship with Volkswagen Development. Everyone sees themselves as colleagues. There are no secrets or restrictions. When something is developed or designed at Volkswagen Motorsport, it is immediately passed on to production. The developers are always stood by the cars as they are being assembled. They are there for the tests and the outings. In general, it is a very homogeneous team and there is no bisection or trisection.

Q:
What is your idea of team spirit at Volkswagen Motorsport?

Jost Capito:
Everyone in the team has to be hungry for success. Motorsport is all about success. Everything else takes second place. I think we have put that idea into practice. Winning has to be a pleasure. Winning cannot become normality. With us, every victory is special and is celebrated like it is our first. Everyone in the team loves winning and hates losing. And when we win, we win together.

Q:
As Motorsport Director, can you exemplify how to work with one another?

Jost Capito:
As a boss, you always have to exemplify how to work with one another. The management culture has to come from the boss. And you have to ensure that it runs through the entire company. Everyone has to know what his role is.

Q:
What is typical of the team spirit at Volkswagen?

Jost Capito:
We failed to finish a rally due to a mistake made whilst assembling the Polo R WRC. Afterwards, we did not try to find out who had made the mistake, but rather how it could happen and what went wrong with our processes. No blame was apportioned. We try to prevent mistakes from happening. That is characteristic of our work and our leadership style.

Q:
Does that mean that nobody need fear making a mistake?

Jost Capito:
Everyone naturally tries to avoid making mistakes. We try to adapt our processes to rule out as many mistakes as possible. However, if someone is afraid of making a mistake, he will avoid taking any risks. That, in turn, makes him too conservative. We are very progressive: anyone can introduce new ideas. Even if nothing comes of them, it is always better than not having any ideas at all.

Q:
You started the 2015 season with a new car. How confident were you that you would be successful again?

Jost Capito:
When we develop and test a car, we do so very carefully. We know whether a car is faster or slower. What you obviously do not know is what the opposition has been up to. However, we have a huge amount of faith that our development steps are good enough to remain competitive.

Q:
Team orders are taboo at Volkswagen Motorsport. Why?

Jost Capito:
I believe that team orders poison team spirit. That results in divisions within the team. I am convinced you have more points and greater success come the end of the year without any team orders. Healthy competition within the team is only possible without team orders - when everyone can do his or her best. And when everyone does their best, that is what pushes the team forward. That is more important than any individual driver benefitting in the short term.

Q:
What is so special about the three Volkswagen drivers?

Jost Capito:
Here, again, it is all about team spirit. The drivers do not keep any secrets from one another. They do not need to be best friends, but they respect each other as colleagues and share their information. They all want to finish first, second and third, and for us to win the Manufacturer Championship. As such, the drivers support one another. That would not be possible if we used team orders.

Q:
What is your most emotional moment of the last three years?

Jost Capito:
There have been several. It is hard to pick one above the rest. Winning the first special stage at the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo. Going on to win that rally. Seb winning the first Drivers' title in France in 2013. Winning the first Manufacturer title in Spain in 2013. The first one-two-three in Australia, 2004, then the one-two-three in Germany in 2015. There are a lot of incredible experiences, which I will always remember.

Q:
New regulations will be introduced in 2017. Is that a step in the right direction?

Jost Capito:
Yes. We already have an outstanding set of regulations. Every manufacturer's cars are competitive. The regulations allow for a certain degree of technical licence, but in a controlled environment, so as to prevent costs from rocketing. The best team can build the best car, and the best driver can win - just as it should be in motorsport - without artificially tampering with the competitiveness. These great regulations will continue with the 2017 version. The cars will have a little more power and, generally speaking, will be more spectacular. That is definitely a step in the right direction.

Q:
So, are you already hungry for the 2017 season?

Jost Capito:
We are all really looking forward to the new car. Everyone is enjoying working on it. And, if we are joined by another manufacturer in the form of Toyota, it will mean that four of the five largest manufacturers will not only be going head to head in the showrooms of this world, but also in the World Rally Championship.
That has never happened before, and it gives everyone involved an extra boost.

Interview courtesy of Volkswagen's Milestones Information Package 2015

 

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