Since the early conclusion to Rally México, Hyundai Motorsport’s travelling workforce has returned to Europe as the company undertakes a period of remote working in line with the Government’s efforts to manage the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Hyundai Motorsport employees, under government advice to limit the spread of the virus the decision was taken for staff to voluntarily work from home in order to protect themselves and the surrounding community.
At this unprecedented time, Hyundai Motorsport’s thoughts are with those around the world who are directly impacted by the outbreak, and with the key workers who are involved in tackling the crisis at hand.
Speaking from his residence in Bavaria, Team Principal Andrea Adamo has reflected on a difficult period, making clear that the company’s motorsport activities take a back seat to the world’s current challenges.
Q+A with Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo
Andrea, firstly, how is the situation with everyone at Hyundai Motorsport?
“The most important thing to say is that everyone is OK, or at least as much as possible in the circumstances. Our company is located in Bavaria, which has been locked down since late last week. We have been obliged to limit our activities, but in actual fact we had already taken some steps prior to this to react to this fast-changing situation. The health and welfare of our staff is the top priority.”
What sort of measures did you take?
“With over 250 staff from 27 different nations, we wanted to give people the chance to get back home before the situation worsened. We took steps to create a work from home culture, allowing us to manage as much as we could the engineering activities. We are trying to get the best out of this situation. Around the world, there are bigger problems to manage than motorsport in this moment, so we just try to think about that and keep our priorities in line.”
How straightforward is it to work remotely for an organisation like Hyundai Motorsport?
“Luckily we are living at a time where communication through virtual tools is very advanced and efficient. We call meetings from time to time; we have access to the servers, and we try to keep each other updated. It is far from an optimal situation, but it is also far from the biggest problem the world is facing currently. We have to stay relaxed and be ready for when things will start again, which they will.”
How challenging was Rally México coping with the developing situation and a rally at the same time?
“We are not heroes for sorting the situation in Mexico, it’s part of the job and there are people working in hospitals that are facing much tougher circumstances. We all had a meeting and it was agreed to end the rally early so we could bring people back to Europe, where most of us are based. There were other smaller teams with fewer resources to deal with the situation, so we had a global responsibility to help them as well. Sometimes, it’s important to be less selfish and to look at the bigger picture.”
What are your reflections on the three WRC events that have taken place this season so far?
“My main reflection is that 2020 WRC had already been a strange one. The only event to run, let me say properly, was Monte-Carlo. We then had Sweden, on roads that were quite indescribable, and then Mexico which was cut short under the shadow of the outbreak. Looking back at those events, I can’t say that I am happy. OK, we won Monte, so from a purely emotional point of view we were pleased, but we had some performance limitations. Sweden, I was not satisfied and Mexico we had reliability issues that made me very upset. From these events, we get all the motivation we need to buck up. We have to respect our board who is allowing us to compete in the championship, and to be professional. We have to focus and understand what we can make better.”
Are you in contact with the crews during this period?
“I am in constant contact with the crews and drivers, no matter what category, exchanging WhatsApp messages or just checking things are fine. If anything, I am more in contact with them now. They are all part of Hyundai Motorsport, so I try to keep them updated. We are all members of the company, so we all have to be involved in what is going on.”
Do you take any time for yourself during this lockdown?
“I would be lying if I said I was working full-on. I am lucky enough to live in a small village in the hills over Aschaffenburg in Germany. Just on my doorstep I have the woods so I can have a walk, I can ride my bicycle on a trainer in my living room. I try to stay fit and healthy. It’s important to use this time to take care of yourself.”
Do you have any special messages for the people at home?
“We are all trying to do our own small slice of support in this difficult time. We want to share Hyundai content with the fans at home and to work through this period by offering some break from the daily tragedies and concerns. Even if there are priorities other than motorsport, we want people to know we are staying with them while they stay at home. We don’t know when things will return to normal. We have to keep focused, stay positive and manage the things that are in our control.”