One of the high points of the day was seeing Rubens Barrichello back in the F1 paddock wearing Brawn team gear. Or at least what passes for it at the moment, it’s Henry Lloyd grey sailing wear from the looks of things. No sponsors, it’s all very 1960s really having these unbranded people and an unbranded car.
Anyway, Rubens looks great, pretty thin, like most of the drivers with the new KERS diet a must in 2009. It’s been a tough few months for him, not knowing if the team was going to survive and if it did, whether he’d be part of the plans. Ross Brawn knew that his experience would be vital as the team tries to make up for lost time. Also, frankly, he was faster than Jenson Button quite a few times last year, so he deserves to still be in F1. Jenson admitted that tonight and said that he would be making sure that doesn’t happen again this year!
I asked Rubens whether he expects the team to act differently now that it is no longer Honda. Here’s what he said,
“Is it going to be like a small Stewart family working? It might be a smaller team just working together, not going through too many people to get an answer. It might work in our favour. I think Honda have done brilliantly and I am sorry to see them go, but you have got to say that there is always a culture difference and a difficulty in the language. So it was a tough thing.
“Coming from that tough moment, walking through the desert and not seeing the end – right now we are at the end. So now the smaller team could be an affirmative answer to all the problems. All I wanted to see at the team was what I found at Ferrari – they were really good at winning together and losing together. The team is quite small now, so it could be like that. That is what I am looking forward to working on, and I am sure Ross is in the same boat. That is what makes it a competitive F1 team. It is not going to the press and saying this is bad or this is good, it is about winning together and losing together and working on the problem.”
This is the key to Ross Brawn’s management. He knows from his Ferrari days that a team is like a family and has to be treated like one. He’s tough but he makes sure everyone relies on each other and looks out for each other and without the corporate influence of Honda bearing down on them, with all the attendant politics and expectation, this team can move forward quickly. It’s basically a pretty decent engineering firm that had poor technical leadership. Last year Brawn put that right and now, with a second lease of life, they can move forward, as long as the money lasts.
They may be an independent team, but they are based on a big team infrastructure.