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More on the background to Honda deal
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More on the background to Honda deal
Posted By:   |  06 Mar 2009   |  12:13 pm GMT  |  0 comments

I’m delighted that Brawn GP has emerged from the rubble of the Honda GP team. It is a bold move by Ross and knowing him, he would not have done it if he did not think he could be successful. Everything he does he does well. The money must be solid because Mercedes would not have done the engine supply deal if it wasn’t. The money is coming from Honda, is my understanding.

It’s an enormous challenge, but the rewards are potentially enormous for him too. After all he’s now 100% shareholder in a business with guaranteed income of at least £45 million per year (from TV) and on which Honda spent £70 million in capital expenditure on hardware in recent years. If he keeps the team alive over the next few years and then, who knows, Honda comes back again, maybe as an engine supplier only, or if someone wealthy like a Mallya or Abramovitch type wants to buy in, Ross will have a very valuable asset, which will make him very seriously rich.

This way the thing stays nice and open. It buys Honda some time while the automobile industry is in crisis. Honda will always build cars and Honda will always have racing in its corporate DNA and if F1 becomes cheaper and financially sustainable as FOTA and the FIA intend, then it will represent a sensational return on investment in a few years time.

Ross said in the last few weeks that “My job is to save jobs” and although they will trim down the 700 workforce at Brackley, many of the jobs will be saved by this move. We do not yet know whether there are any sponsors in the sidelines, but we do know that this deal would not have happened without FOTA teams supporting Ross and the new deal for independents of three years engine and gearbox supply for under £5 million per season.

There is no truth in the rumours that Mike Gascoyne is the new technical director.

As for Mercedes they are supplying the engine to the team and Brawn’s engineers have had a Mercedes engine at Brackley since the end of January, to do the installation work. This means that they will have had less than two months to adapt their 2009 design to the Mercedes engine, which is very tight. Lack of time to work on engine installation often leads to reliability problems, as Williams found when it switched from BMW to Cosworth a few years ago.

Ross will have seen this coming and will have put a working group in place to make that transition as smooth as possible. He is a consummate organiser and a genius at knowing where to put human and technical resources and when.

My understanding is that Brawn GP is getting the engine only, not the whole gearbox and hydraulic system from Mercedes/McLaren as Force India has. The FI deal is a very special one and this is not the same.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will drive cars 18 and 19 in this year’s championship. Barrichello will extend his record as the most experienced driver ever and it’s no surprise that Brawn chose him over Senna as he is a brilliant technical driver and he will help them far more than Senna would have done to get the car sorted quickly. Senna would have faced a mountain learning F1 with no testing time.

It indicates that the finances must be solid because Senna brought around $10 million with him in sponsorship. Button has his severance pay from Honda so he will not be too out of pocket, whereas I imagine Rubens is on a lowish retainer, but he’s just happy to still be in F1.

The team are not making Ross or the drivers available, but a Q& A with him will appear on the team’s new website at 2pm GMT today. You can keep up with the latest news and see pictures of the new car, maybe even later today, on their new website http://www.brawngp.com/

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  1. Ben G says:

    This is great news – and I agree that this deal could eventually become very profitable.

    They simply need to survive two or three seasons. By 2011/12 not only will the recession have turned (we hope) but the team’s reduced costs will be met substantially TV money. If sponsorship picks up, Brawn will have a very valuable slice of the F1 franchise.

  2. Kevin M says:

    If you’re like me and just couldn’t wait to see the new car

    It’s nice to see Jenson back in an F1 car again. Good to see that after waiting all this time that everything is on track. Now it becomes a race to get the car as fast and reliable as possible before Melbourne.

    There must be so much work going on in the background at the moment. As an advertising designer myself, I can’t help but wonder how they’re going to get all of the branding surrounding the team completed by Melbourne unless this started quite some time ago. Resources would also have to be pumped into team uniforms and merchandise to sell. It’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to create a fast car, but at the same time look professional enough to get some funding from sponsors and get fans to pay for merchandise.

  3. Ollie says:

    What can I say other than very good news. I’m am very pleased Formula One will have 20 cars on the Melbourne grid and am delighted that the man to take over the Honda team is Ross Brawn. For someone who has tirelessly worked hard on improving teams in the past, it is great that finally Brawn will be able to reap the benefits directly from his hard work.

    Here’s hoping the BGP 001 is quick out of the box and not too shabby or unreliable.

    Hurrah!

  4. Steven says:

    I am delighted to see the news. I’ve always had massive respect for Ross Brawn. And with Jenson Button having been my favourite driver since Damon Hill retired, I am even more happy to see him continue in F1.

    I will be wholeheartedly supporting Brawn GP this season and I hope they score some much needed decent results.

  5. mattanddebz says:

    I’m so pleased the team will be on the grid in Melbourne. The deafening silence from the Honda team in the last month or so had me worried.

    It’s great the Jenson has got a drive. A talent wasted otherwise and keeping Reubens is definitely a wise move.

    This season will be the most entertaining as well as the most interesting. Not only new rules and regs and the itroduction of KERS but also to see how a team with great resources but little winter testing will be able to catch up to the others.

    I may even dig out my old Honda shirt and attach BrawnGP logos over the top of the Honda ones!

  6. Garry says:

    Excellent all round. What is surprising is that hardly any of this was leaked – from both Honda and McLaren employees, the team behind the website (although I hope the car looks better than the brawn gp logo – it’s awful)

    And I really hope that the work that Honda was doing on the 09 car will be justified.

    (By the way, is it me, or does the mailing list form on the BrawnGP site not work in Firefox? [ You are not alone. But it works with I.E. & Chrome. Hopefully, the car will not be as picky about certain circuits. - Moderator ]

  7. Ben G says:

    Gary – I agree – it looks a bit like “Yawn GP” at first sight.
    But the car looks fantastic.

  8. Uppili says:

    I would be hard pressed to believe that Honda have sold all the assets (like wind tunnel, office space and leases with Reynard, etc) to Ross Brawn on top of giving away a “dowry” to take the team away from their hands.

    As idiotic as Honda have behaved in this whole pull-out episode, i cant believe they would have thrown away their assets on top of that! Even if they are not coming back racing for say next decade and even if they did may be not from the same base at Brackley, i would still think that when a solid buyer comes into picture when the economy improves, Honda would want to salvage some decent money out of those assets and investments.

    Put simply, i speculate that the workforce and all assets have been “leased” to BrawnGP by Honda. Brawn is just a front man for this year and from next year it becomes his responsibility to find the money to keep the team running.

    This happens all the time in the secret world of racing. Remember in its last year, Champ Car told us that Paul Stoddart was going racing in USA having bought into a team. We now know that all Stoddart did was lend the Minardi name for some credibility to the series in return for his “rent a ride” formula 1 two-seaters.

    Likewise, Willi Weber was publicized as the great “seat holder” for A1GP Team Germany, when in reality he was just a 50% partner and the rest came from Tony Texeira!! Still to date many teams in A1GP are bankrolled by the series with some front man as the “seat holder”.

  9. Ed H says:

    Good on Ross Brawn to Save the team. I am thrilled with his descision to Keep Rubens Barrichello on, Because as well as being a brilliant driver, he is also the nicest guy in Formula 1. Jenson is a real cool smooth talent, and if Mclaren screw up, who knows, maybe everyone will focus on JB again…

  10. john g says:

    what a strange decision not to use the merc gearbox alongside the merc engine. aside from the fact it’s probably quite a good box, getting the two to talk to each other and work well is surely not very straightfoward.

    great to see the team surviving but i don’t expect them to finish that many races…

  11. Kenny Carwash says:

    “There is no truth in the rumours that Mike Gascoyne is the new technical director.”

    James, could you provide any info on why you’re sure of that? The rumour seems quite persistent and it’s now being suggested that Force India will allow Brawn GP to use McLaren KERS as well, provided Mike Gascoyne drops his lawsuit against them.

    Have you spoken to Mike himself? I’d quite like to know what he’s up to at the moment.

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