Who is Hannah Schmitz, the woman behind Red Bull and Max Verstappen's success?
Red Bull's principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz has captured the limelight after orchestrating a spectacular win for Max Verstappen at the 2022 F1 Hungarian GP.
At the Hungaroring, Verstappen made his way from 10th on the grid into the leading group and was 5th in the race before the first round of pitstops. The Red Bull driver was able to jump Lewis Hamilton with the first pitstop, which allowed him to claw his way back into contention for the win as he joined the front-running group.
The Dutchman then trailed race leader Charles Leclerc by 6 seconds and was 4th in the race. This was when Schmitz made the call to bring the Red Bull driver in for his second and final stop for medium tires.
The strategy unit's fleet-footed maneuvers helped Verstappen clinch his 8th win of the season. The Red Bull driver was subsequently quite complimentary of the Red Bull strategy engineer. In the post-race press conference, he said:
“You can’t afford many mistakes. 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 [Schmitz], our strategist, was insanely calm. Yeah, she’s very good.”
Both Max Verstappen and fans all over social media are raving about Hannah Schmitz and her contribution to Red Bull's success. Some of the latter took to Twitter to post:
“This woman right here is Hannah Schmitz, principal strategy engineer at Red Bull Racing and responsible for the brilliant calls regarding Max Verstappen’s pitstops. What an accomplishment to win in Hungary coming from P10. Thank you @redbullracing.”
“When Ariana Grande said god is a woman, she was talking about Hannah Schmitz.”
So, who is Hannah Schmitz? Let's find out!
Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull's principal strategy engineer
When you look at Schmitz's educational background, it shows that Red Bull selects nothing but the best personnel to do the job.
The principal strategy engineer has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the esteemed University of Cambridge. She is trained in Statistical Modeling, Optimisation, and Regression Analysis and it is these skills that help her make some of the best decisions in the F1 paddock.
Her Red Bull journey
Schmitz completed her Masters in 2009 and interestingly found her way into Red Bull as her very first endeavor soon after. Having joined the team as a modeling and simulation manager, she was promoted to the role of senior strategy engineer after just 18 months of association.
It was in this position that Schmitz gained experience in the edge-of-the-seat strategic unit for almost 10 years. Here, she saw the highs of Sebastian Vettel's four consecutive titles, the lows of the German leaving, and the team's rebuilding phase with Honda. In 2021, she was promoted to the position of principal strategy engineer and that is where she finds herself right now, in the thick of things every race weekend for the championship leaders.
Through all of this, Schmitz gained prominence and experience and even admitted in one of the interviews on the team's official website that it took time to gain confidence before starting to express herself. She also hoped that her presence would help bring more diversity to the F1 paddock in general, saying:
“I think there’s a lot of people that initially maybe don’t have the confidence in you to do the job. 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.”
The 2022 F1 Hungarian GP is not her only "Gold-dust' moment
Hannah Schmitz's masterstroke at the 2022 F1 Hungarian GP may have gained her a lot of fame, but this was not the first time she has helped Max Verstappen win a race.
At the 2019 F1 Brazilian GP, Schmitz took the strategic decision to pit Verstappen for the third time, even though it would have meant dropping the lead to Lewis Hamilton. While everyone remembers the Dutchman's spectacular overtake on Lewis Hamilton subsequently, it was the strategy from Schmitz that placed him there.
In modern F1, a championship-winning team is a complex mixture of moving parts that come together to work in synergy. Red Bull is fortunate enough that it has Hannah Schmitz being one of the vital parts that ensures everything works perfectly on her side of things.