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Brawn GP – where they go from here
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Brawn GP – where they go from here
Posted By:   |  06 Mar 2009   |  4:15 pm GMT  |  23 comments

Ross Brawn issued a brief Question and Answer document today, to mark his first full day as a team owner. It doesn’t say much, beyond expressing relief and joy that they finally got there and some heartfelt thanks to Honda and Mercedes for making it happen.

Interestingly he does not pick up on the theme expressed yesterday that this deal would not have happened without FOTA, nor does he express heartfelt thanks to Bernie Ecclestone (who offered to fund the buyout) nor the FIA.

He says that he is looking for ‘respectable’ performance this season. What is respectable in F1? Well clearly last year’s performance by the Honda team, especially given the budget they were working with, was far from respectable.

Now the team is a privately owned independent with a customer engine, like Williams. It will have to measure itself against Williams’ standards. It would be bold to think that they will outperform Williams this season, especially given the lateness of the decision to go ahead, but that must be their target.

brawn-gp-carjpg

Honda could be embarrarassed by the team’s performance over the next couple of years. Ross doesn’t mess around and he will get the best from the people and the resources he has and it’s quite possible that that will move the team up the grid to the point where they are doing a better job than Honda managed, despite a fraction of the resources.

What will also really help him is the drastic cut in spend by the teams and the next step of the FIA’s cost reduction policy. Brawn GP has class leading facilities and engineers. It has a world class leader, a championship winning engine and two of the quickest and most experienced drivers in the field.

That’s quite a lot to build on and quite a lot to shout about.

Where do they go from here? To the Barcelona test where I will get my first look at the car and chat to the team next week. After that they will squeeze in another three days testing at Jerez from 15-17 March before crating the cars and sending them to Australia.

I don’t imagine there will be too big a drama building the second car, in fact it may well already be built despite the risks of committing funds to a chassis build without knowing whether the team was going to survive.

I expect some reliability issues to start with, but my sense is that everyone in the pit lane, in the stands and in front of their tellies will rejoice that the team has been saved and F1 now has a new underdog team to support.

If I were them I’d position the team as the underdogs, the fans’ favourite, start with a clean sheet of paper in terms of how they engage the public and give great interactivity. Super Aguri did no marketing but quickly built a massive following because they were the underdogs. It might seem odd for Ross, previously the dominant force in F1 in his Ferrari days, to be cast as an underdog, but that’s where the team are now. And his brilliant track record is the thing which gives genuine belief to the notion that they could make the dream come true and get to the top.

That is the story F1 most needs to tell.

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23 Comments
  1. Raz says:

    James, actually it won’t be odd for Ross.. being an ‘underdog’.. remember he was involved with the Benetton turn around – which lead to Michael Schumacher’s first 2 titles, then again at Ferrari, raising them from the “ashes”.. and now lets see what he can do at his new team.. I wish him all the best, as he is a former member of the “Dream Team’… wonder if Rory Byrne my come out from Thailand?

  2. Lee Grant says:

    Fantastic analysis James!

    Ross Bawn as the underdog! – didn’t see that coming a year ago!

    I agree – Brawn GP has nothing to prove this year and just needs to focus on getting the show on the road.

    With all the changes for this year, it seems to be a good time to bring a ‘new’ team to the grid. The odds will always be against you but perhaps not so much as if we were in 2008.

    Is it too much to hope for a few moments like Sato in his Aguri driving around Alonso’s McLaren in Canada a few years back.

    Any news of Davidson back in the test seat?

  3. HowardMoon says:

    The sidepods on that Brawn BGP001 are really quite distinctive, arguably more so than the colour scheme. They look much smaller and shapely than most other cars, or maybe that’s just me. It’s wonderful to see so much variation between constructors, even if it last for one season as teams are copy each other to find the ‘winning’ formula.

    Anywho, all I say is thank god the team is safe and we can finally put to rest all the rumours and speculation about Honda. It seemed like every day you would hear two completely contradictory stories about the team’s future. Remember when we all thought Ferrari would be will to supply engines then changed their mind days later? Or Honda management saying they can’t find a serious buyer and the racing team saying they have plenty of interest?

  4. HowardMoon says:

    Oops, my grammar is atrocious in that last post. You get the drift anyway…

  5. Ben James says:

    I am overjoyed at this news! Again another brilliant piece from you James and you bang em’ out pretty quick!

    I CANNOT wait for the season to start. Who knows how well Brawn GP could do. The idea of Jenson having a proper racing car, maybe not to start with, but certainly half way through the season and following seasons, is going to be fantastic. Lets hope they do better than expected in their first year, I would love to see Jens pulling the big boys pants down if possible! (that sounds odd!)

    Also I see the BBC have sorted their website out, with a view to further changes, thank goodness.

    James will you be part of something this year, or are you sticking to your blog this season? I would like to see you as part of F1 Racing’s monthly offering at the very least. Not to take away from this fantastic blog you have started!

  6. ImasrI says:

    I felt that those side pods looked very similar to McLaren’s. I wonder whether this was intentional to meet the Mercedes engine’s cooling requirements, but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

    And James don’t you think that Force India are the team to beat for Brawn’s team? The do have the same engine, although no the same support from Mercedes. But i would like to think that Brawn has a better team facilities and drivers around him.

  7. Stephen says:

    The beauty of hindsight (up until this point ) is this is a perfect match for Brawn. Like you said James he has nothing to prove in terms of how to manage a team, so the only logical step up is to run and own a team, something that, ironically, may not have been possible without Honda pulling out.
    Granted they may turn out to be a Super Aguri, but even that wont be able to diminish the respect people have for Ross Brawn.
    Regardless, after being a JB fan and BAR / Honda fan for so long, finally I’ll be able to support my team without the Ferrari tifosi saying “yeah but you came 15th” without having the come back of – “well we’re an independent team with a fraction of your budget” and when the day comes that they beat a ferrari, and god willing it will be soon, how sweet will that victory be?

  8. Boston F1 Fan says:

    “Brawn GP has class leading facilities and engineers. It has a world class leader, a championship winning engine and two of the quickest and most experienced drivers in the field.”

    - Except for the engine, that was true last season as well.

    “If I were them I’d position the team as the underdogs, the fans’ favourite, start with a clean sheet of paper in terms of how they engage the public and give great interactivity. Super Aguri did no marketing but quickly built a massive following because they were the underdogs.”

    - This is a good idea. I’ve always approved of how Red Bull and Toro Rosso leverage the Red Bull-image to have more “fun” than the other teams. Furthermore, they interact with their fans through videos and that parody F1 magazine (now discontinued) that few other teams do. It’s a good example for other teams to follow.

  9. DaveC says:

    This is great news and I think I’m already a fan of Brawn GP!

    Only question I still have and cant find an answer to is where Nick Fry fits into the org structure now?

  10. Peter says:

    I for one am glad to see the back of Honda and see this team return as a proper f1 team again. Brawn GP is brilliant! I was getting worried that the major car manufacturers were taking over f1 and sooner rather than later the whole grid would be run by massive car companies. Maybe that’s the advantage of the economic downturn for f1. It might become less dominated by the big names and once again the proper f1 men and teams emerge again. Williams, Tyrell, Jordan, Minardi….. Brawn GP now.

    The situation is like a paper airplane competition. The non road car teams (Williams, Tyrell etc) were the team of schoolboys making paper airplanes. How disappointing would it have been for those school boys to have turned around and seen that Boeing (Renault, Toyota…) were entering the paper airplane competition, with their big money and all.

    Mass car manufacturs like Renault, Toyota and Honda have sucked the fun out of f1 in recent years is the point I’m making. It used to be about the team, now when I look at those names, all I can think of is the rubbish cars and adverts they produce each year. They have no soul, and that is why Williams have always been my favourite team.

  11. Dermot says:

    Great to see that things have come together for the team. Brawn as a team owner will certainly be a tough taskmaster will the highest of ambitions. Their progress this year will be fascinating as they are the first of what will hopefully be a new trend of independent competitors entering Formula 1.

    The new RB car looks great too, hopefully it will go as well as it looks!

  12. Steven says:

    I would like to see Brawn GP beat Force India and mix it with teams like Red Bull and Williams. Ross deserves it after all that’s happened with Honda pulling out.

  13. Peter says:

    Well, he clearly doesn’t lack balls.
    He could have chosen fishing instead of this.

    Good luck!

  14. guy says:

    Word of advice for mr brawn – get melinda messenger in the pitlane, it worked for eddie jordan!

  15. Jason C says:

    I just hope they change their logo pronto. Their website needs serious attention too, but I guess they’re on it already. Send ‘em my way: I build websites.

  16. 130TR says:

    I believe Ross will take even more pride in his work this coming year than he ever possibly did contributing to the Ferrari success.

    However, he may begin to feel the financial pressure of bankrolling a team at some point, so here’s hoping for some good sponsorship contracts to reduce that particular burden.

    The reason this time around will offer the great man something he’s never experienced before, is that each and every race weekend, he sends an F1 team out bearing his own family name.

  17. Rob Sinfield says:

    Has a ‘new’ team ever been better placed to make an impact on F1? I can’t think of one, Toyota spent an entire year testing before they came in, albeit with a rather odd driver line up’ but it didn’t do them much good.

    Brawn GP have been ‘testing’ for years – lets hope they can shake the order up a bit..!

  18. Steven says:

    I still think Honda should have NOT withdrawn this season but announced they would withdraw from 2010. The amount of money they’ve already had to pay surely it would have been worth it to have one final season. If Honda could have run their 2009 car throughout January and February it would have been extremely competitive but as a result of the lack of testing a potential race winning car has been seriously under-developed. I hope Ross Brawn in future seasons does NOT sell back to Honda who I hope I never see return to F1 in the future.

  19. guy says:

    Are we to assume ross brawn hasn’t put a penny into the team (yet?) – if not – i agree with steven… honda should have remained this season; however I would welcome honda back – they helped to fund the new team which deserves significant credit. They do have responsibilties to their shareholders and as such to pay millions to help develop the new team would be plain wrong when they are laying workers off.

  20. I am delighted to see Brawn GP on the grid.

    I agree with James in that with Honda out of the way, and Ross Brawn calling all the shots that Brawn GP could do very well despite having less funds now.

    Ross Brawn wants to have a respectable season. I think he can acheive that and more this season.

    They might struggle a bit initially due to the lack of testing and may have a few gremlins to iron out. I think they will get better as the season goes on.

  21. Ed H says:

    No news of Davidson yet, but he has always been, and still is, my favourite British Driver. If Barrichello ever retires, I would forget Senna and put Davidson in instead.

  22. Raz says:

    Kelly Brook man, Kelly Brook!

  23. Lee Grant says:

    Absolutely! Anthony needs a real shot!

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