There are several examples that over-motivated employees can overstep the red-line, which separates legal from illegal, even if they are people with strong personal values, as for instance, Ayrton Senna had been active for different social projects. His team-mate and later Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger described him once: “Before the race he read the Bible and in the race he drove over your head. The super successful are all like this.”[1]

  • 1989: Ayrton Senna had to win the second-last grand-prix (Suzuka) to not lose all possibilities to still win the championship. Before a chicane he tried a risky maneuver to overtake Alan Prost (both on McLaren Honda). Knowing that it had to come to an accident, Prost closed the way and it came to the collision. Prost stepped out the car and Senna first tried to continue the race, but later got disqualified. Title for Prost.
  • 1990: the pay-back. This time Prost (now with Ferrari) had to win the Grand Prix of Japan to still have hopes for the title, but inside the race Senna provoked the collision. Result, the championship title for the Brazilian pilot.


As the risk is identified and also the possible risk-group, the question is, what can be done to mitigate it? Regular trainings should create awareness for the topic and also get the employees out of their daily routines. The clear message must be that every person is 100% responsible for its own actions and for this should execute an adequate decision making process. Different case discussions can work as an “ethical vaccination”, maybe the employee was not yet in such a situation, but may face it in the future. He or she will remember later the example cases and can use them as blueprint or pattern for his or her actions.

Further, attitudes get only effective in the relevant situation and are deduced from the person’s values. As they are good sportsmen and at the end all benefited as group from it, most drivers had the value “fairness”, Being fair means also that others are fair to you, and if not, there is a process to escalate the topic. So the value is given, but the attitude “not to drive in each other cars, if it is the last race of the season and you still can win the championship” does not exist yet. As most of the drivers not had been in this situation before (and likely never will be), they not thought about what would be fair to do in this duel. After a long season it can be seen that it is fair for me to win even with this maneuver, as you can find easily arguments for it:

  • The championship is not just for me, but for the whole team, who did a great work to support me.
  • My opponent had the stronger car and I am the better driver.
  • My opponent did the same to me last year.

But there are surely more arguments against such a maneuver, which not had been included in the driver’s first thoughts:

  • Millions of motorsports fans invert money and time into their passion, they deserve a fair race.
  • The other driver is in the same position as me, so also would have deserved the victory.
  • Due to the speed, accidents are always dangerous, for drivers, but also spectators.
  • Unfair maneuvers are weakening the credibility of the sports, everybody is losing.
  • All drivers have to comply with the rules, if not there are consequences.
  • Around the race-track are a lot of cameras. Surely the race stewards would analyze the maneuver and disqualify me.

A discussion or a role-play about such pros and contras should lead to the result that the driver will develop a (hopefully) positive attitude to not provoke accidents, if one day he would be in a similar situation. For this a Compliance training can work as an “ethical vaccination”, as the positive attitude will not be activated now, but stays as “antibodies” inside the person and help to make him immune to the regarding temptations. To ensure an effective protection, such vaccinations have to be repeated from time to time.

This theory gets confirmed by Oliver Sheldon’s and Ayelet Fishbach’s study for the Rutgers Business School: “If people want to avoid unethical behavior, it may help to anticipate situations where they will be tempted and consider how acting upon such temptations fits with their long-term goals or beliefs about their own morality.”[2]


Henz, Patrick (2017): Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari – from motorsports to business”

[1] Gute Zitate (fetched 09.09.2014): “Gerhard Berger”

[2] Sheldon, Oliver J. / Fishbach, Ayelet (2015): “Anticipating and Resisting the Temptation to Behave Unethically”