Teamwork, Adrenaline, Accomplishment… Luca Mazzocco reflects on over two decades in Formula One

Written by Gary Rosewell

Over the last few weeks, we have been drawing back the curtain on some unsung heroes behind the scenes in Formula One. Bridging the gap between marketing and engineering for no less than 24 years (all at Enstone), Luca Mazzocco is a veritable institution in the sport. We caught up with the understated Italian after an intense German Grand Prix in which Renault earned their first podium since, well, let’s just say that ça fait trop longtemps!

Q. Luca, how are you? Firstly, huge congratulations for the result in Germany. It’s been a long time coming. Can you please introduce yourself and some of the tasks that you manage on a day to day basis that crossover with the technical side of the business?

A. I’m great thank you! Very happy with the podium in Germany – it reflects the efforts of everyone at the team, including all our valued partners and the commitment of the wider Renault business.

My name is Luca Mazzocco. I am from Verona, Italy, and I work at Renault DP World F1 Team (based in Enstone, Oxfordshire) in the Marketing department as Head of Technical Partnerships.

Broadly, this involves managing various aspects of the contractual rights that our technical partners are entitled to. That can range from trackside guest experiences (under normal circumstances) through to filming and photography requirements, campaign approvals, facility tours, press interviews, renewal discussions, organizing partner endorsements and more.

“The pillar that keeps [technical partnerships] alive is what we achieve together”

Technical partnerships exist because of an engineering challenge. There is a marketing / brand communication element of course, but the pillar that keeps them alive is what we achieve together. If that doesn’t happen, public and commercial interest will dissipate. Formula One operates within a grueling innovation cycle and it’s the perfect proving ground to showcase technology capabilities. Some partners have been with us for over 20 years, which really speaks for itself.

I don’t think many jobs have a day to day routine in our sport and mine certainly doesn’t. We have a diverse family of Official Partners including businesses providing world class solutions in Information Technology, Energy, Logistics, Machining, Composites and Metrology, to mention just a few.

Some of them are large multinationals and others relatively small and very niche, with diverse corporate and cultural backgrounds. The type of business activity they want to leverage using Formula One and Renault DP World F1 Team in particular (referred to as ‘partnership activation’ in corporate sponsorship shorthand), in addition to the way they communicate, provides a never-ending learning experience. There are times for frantic travelling and project execution and other times that are better suited to planning and reflection.

Q. What inspired you to get involved with motorsport and what was your first experience? How many nationalities do you work with?

A. As a young Italian, I was deeply passionate about Formula One, but when Gilles Villeneuve tragically died, I actually stopped following it.

I moved to England in 1993 and by 1996 (through a random set of events) I ended up being employed by Benetton as a translator for Giancarlo Fisichella. I had inadvertently found myself in a world that, years before, had represented an absolute dream. There was no time to really reflect on this, however. Things happened very quickly (as they do in F1) and there was a lot of work to do. Only now when I bump into iconic F1 characters like René Arnoux, Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost does that special emotion from my younger years, emerge once again.

Luca with Giancarlo Fisichella when driving for Jordan in 1997. ‘Fisi’ was loaned to Jordan by Benetton and Luca supported as a translator as part of the deal.

“We are part of a team and that becomes like a second nationality in itself”

Over 20 nationalities comprise Renault DP World F1 Team, making for an extremely diverse and interesting professional environment. I don’t really think of it like that though; we are part of a team and that becomes like a second nationality in itself.

Q. You have been with an Enstone based team for 24 years! What has been the favourite moment in your career so far?

A. It’s a difficult choice but, perhaps winning the FIA World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships in 2006. It was a hard-fought battle with Ferrari, and I was so overjoyed that I completely forgot about our championship bonus! Another special moment was when Giancarlo won his first race after returning to the team in Melbourne.

Giancarlo Fisichella wins the Australian Grand Prix for Renault F1 Team in 2005, with Fernando Alonso placing 3rd. The team went on to win the World Constructors’ and World Drivers’ Championships in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Q. In three words, describe what motorsport means to you personally? What advice would you give to aspiring young professionals trying to make it in Formula One?

A. Teamwork. Adrenaline. Accomplishment.

It’s always difficult to offer advice as we are all so different. One thing I would say though is that I don’t know anyone whose dream it was to work in F1 that wasn’t prepared to put in the hard work and dedication to make that happen. It’s a relentless business with competition at its heart across every aspect. If it is your dream, then don’t give up!

Q. What is your favourite technical innovation from Formula One that has found its way into our everyday lives?

A. Perhaps the innovations that are more difficult to quantify. Efficiency is performance and all F1 teams work with incredible intensity to achieve it. Take the advancements in aerodynamics and materials science for example. There are road cars and airplanes that drive and fly more efficiently today because of innovations discovered through the relentless R&D of Formula One.

“That two-way innovation cycle is hugely interesting and often overlooked!”

Interestingly, when you are part of a global company like Renault, there are many innovations and efficiencies that can be brought into the sport / team. That two-way innovation cycle is hugely interesting and often overlooked!

Renault DP World F1 Team is based between Enstone, UK and Viry-Châtillon, France.

Above, the team’s wind tunnel facility at Enstone and an example of air flow modelling.

Thank you for that fantastic insight Luca and best for the remainder of the 2020 season. Based on recent performances, it looks like Renault DP World F1 Team are well placed to punctuate their distinguished history in the sport with some more contemporary silverware. À bientôt!