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In the Easyjet set with Brawn and Co
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In the Easyjet set with Brawn and Co
Posted By:   |  11 May 2009   |  12:57 am GMT  |  0 comments

Vijay Mallya is bobbing in the harbour on his motor yacht, Flavio Briatore will have zoomed off in his private jet, like most of the drivers but the winner of today’s Grand Prix, was on the Easyjet flight to Luton with his team, Red Bull, Force India, me and a load of sunburned, happy fans.
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Most of them couldn’t believe their eyes that Ross was on the same flight and he had to pose for photos with many of them. His only token bit of elitism – he paid €12 for Speedy Boarding!

Ross has always been a team player when it comes to travel. A number of times in the past when my family has been on holiday in Italy in summer I’ve cadged a lift on the Ferrari charter and Ross and Jean Todt always used to travel with the engineers and mechanics on the same plane. It’s part of the team building ethic, which also includes sending different members of the team up onto the podium, to allow them to feel that buzz and to motivate them to work hard to achieve it again.

Anyway, on the way out on Thursday morning the Easyjet plane was half full of hungover Barcelona fans on their way home after beating Chelsea in the Champions league. Ross got sat next to a guy who must have been 20 stone and who had clearly been in a bar all night.

Tonight he was on good form, relieved to have won another race and to have negotiated through all the potential little problems, surprised that Red Bull hadn’t done more with pit strategy to try to get Vettel away from Massa.

On the plane the atmosphere was good. The captain in his welcome speech congratulated the team for its success and wished them many more. Red Bull guys rolled their eyes..

Brawn has now won 11 trophies in the five races so far and Jenson Button has dropped only four points from a possible 45.

They are making it look Easy.

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  1. Jake Pattison says:

    Great report James. :D
    Sounds like you had a good time yourself mate.

  2. EC says:

    That was a terrific ( or as our friends in the UK say: brilliant! ) post !

    It brought back memories of Rob Walker, Rob’s wife’s cookies for the drivers, and the more human sort of stuff which used to be written about before things got so damned serious.

    Great stuff, James.

  3. PaulL says:

    They are making it look easy – then again it’s not as hard when you compromise 2 years of development and circumnavigate the rules to make the car fast. I don’t think this achievement is entirely genuine.

    Also when you have a dominant car, it’s your responsibility not to run a one-man team.

  4. Jasper says:

    I also had a laugh with the special on Flavio’s (and Bernie’s) football club in the buildup of the quali on the BBC. He seemed more bothered about the quality of the food than the footie. And Christian Horner and Lucas Di Grassi are kicking about as well. Walks hand in hand with the comments above here :)

  5. Chris H says:

    This is why your blog is now my first call of the morning every morning. On not other F1 fansite/website would you find this kind of in site. I would love to see your website stats to see the how the visitor numbers have increased as word of mouth has gotten round about your great blog.

    Please dont stop :)

  6. Lovely colour piece – thanks very much!

  7. David says:

    Great blog – always fascinating to read.

    Did you get a chance to talk to Brawn and Barrichello after the race? There clearly was quite a difference of opinion between them about the 3 stop strategy and Rubens seemed quite upset about things in his post race interview. Indeed he’s quoted this morning as threatening to quit if Button starts being favoured.

  8. Mark R says:

    I’ve just back from Barcelona (Ryanair Girona) so nobody famous on our flight.
    We walked round the harbour & saw Vijay Mallya’s yacht & it’s absolutley incredible bloody great thing.
    Completely sunburnt now & very sore.

  9. Dominic J says:

    “They are making it look Easy.”

    As Chris Tarrant says on Millionaire: It’s only easy if you know the answer.

    When the car’s that good, it is only a matter of beating one or two rivals (here Ferrari and Red Bull). It turned out that Ferrari beat Red Bull for them, before defeating themselves. That made it easier still.

  10. I’m more surprised at you flying EasyJet than Ross Brawn, James. Did you not make enough in your ITV years to buy a private jet? ;)

  11. ade says:

    Hi James – the PopBitch gossip messageboard are reporting that the Brawn team celebrated with Beer and Sandwiches at the aiport before they jetted home from Barcelona. According to their sources, Ross Brawn is a bit partial to the cheese & pickle sarnie.
    Can you confirm?

  12. Aaron James says:

    Random question, but we never see any hint of F1 teams using Ryanair. Anyone having flown with that airline might have an idea why, but I’m curious if the teams (and indeed Paddock press pack) have any preferred airlines they like to use?

    Me, if it’s long haul it’s Singapore Airlines or no-one. Short-haul in Europe BA or Easyjet.

  13. jon says:

    As usual James, brilliant reporting – and i agree with Chris H, its the first port of call before my work emails

    Glad to see that Ross isn’t really going mad on the economising, as if he tried to change a flight on Ryanair, then his budget would quickly match that of Toyota and Ferrari!

    Button’s driving was sumbline, but i do feel a little sorry to Ruebens, but he’ll get his win

    Big hat’s of to Webber who made the best pass of the year in my opinion…and just hopefully, boosted his confidence enough to start outscoring Vettal

    Great race and i can’t wait to Monaco

    Keep up the good work James!

    Jon

  14. Justin Ford says:

    James, do you get the feeling from ross that he thinks jenson is the better driver, or does he see them as the same ?

  15. Brian S says:

    What is happening to Virgin sponsorship? Wasn’t Branson saying he hoped to announce something more once they got to Europe?

  16. Toby says:

    I’m beginning to think Button’s dominance may be starting to take the shine off Schumacher’s dominance of F1. Without doubting his talent and without casting a shadow on what Button is doing at the moment, perhaps we ought to be looking at what the two have in common. I.e. a well oiled team run by Ross Brawn and a fantastic car. I am not saying Button is not an extremely talented driver, but perhaps we should look at placing Schumacher on a slightly lower pedestal, now that we are seeing a similair level of dominance being acheived by another driver who has not been considered in the same class. Perhaps there are others who could have achieved what Michael did under the circumstances. I know this has been said by many before, that Schumacher’s skill was to surround himself with a good team, but this season to me just tips the balance a bit further towards the car/team/brawn side of things rather than the “Schumacher is the best driver ever” side.

    Having said that Barrichello is there as another common factor, so perhaps we should be pushing Button up towards the Schumacher’s level?

  17. Charlie says:

    Why does everyone say that Rubens is “angry” and “threatening to quit”. Some more insincere journalists seem to be playing this angle when he made it quite clear that this wasn’t going to happen. Brawn, Button and Barricello have been consistent in their stories and there’s quite obviously no cover up here. Just look at the tone of voice Rubens used in his post race interviews and you’ll see that he was surprised at Button’s strategy switch, yes, disappointed not to win, obviously, but has no problem with the team (as he expressly said).

    Rubens wasn’t to know that Brawn switched Button’s strategy to defend against Rosberg. Hence his surprise immediately after the race. As noted by James, Rubens lost this race on the third set of tyres and from Button’s class act last stint on the hards. Which goes some way to show Jenson’s quality when it matters, and a good signal for the championship. Though there are plenty of races yet to come…

    However, never was Rubens once angry, and he hasn’t threatened to quit, only that he WOULD quit IF there was team orders. There aren’t and he hasn’t.

    So calm down and carry on!

  18. Andrew Webb says:

    Nice to hear you had a good weekend.

    Still, nice to see you are still in the Paddock as well :)

  19. Rich says:

    I have to admitt that this had to be the best f1 website anywhere, the fact you take time to interact with fans is great.
    What are your thoughts on Rubens commenting on possible team orders and that he wont obey them? Will Brawn want him around next year?

  20. SeaDog says:

    Enjoying the blog as always James, best in F1 methinks.

    A question, hopefully without causing too much contention.

    I have been reading, mainly on the BBC site, numerous postings regarding a Mr Legard. Now If I am honest he does drive me insane and seems to be dragging Martin down with him. (Who is normally brilliant as you know). The concnesus is that Mr Legard is doing, shall we say a not too brilliant job.

    I don’t want to rip him to pieces here as it would serve no purpose but there is a general feeling out there he is not up to the job. (I would love your opinion but understand we probably will not get it)

    Generally I always felt you and Martin made a brilliant team.

    So the question, has anybody from the BBC been a knockin at your yet? And if they did would you be likely to return th

  21. Peter says:

    James, is it possible for you to crash a Martin Brundle grid walk and give us a wave at the next Grand Prix?!

  22. Kerbs says:

    James,

    Just wanted to add to the generally very positive tone of your posters. No one does this better than you; the insight, the feeling of living and breathing what’s going on.

    Also, your journolism is first class – people here value that you spot and develop stories, rather than simply regurgitating press releases and calling it news like certain well-known magazine-associated websites tend to do (Tony D aside, who, thankfully, is old enough to know what he should be doing).

    Like everyone else, this is my first port of call when I want to know what really happened to Rubens etc, etc.

    I fear that you may not get the TV gig again, it feels like that moment has passed. If I’m honest, I felt that the move to BBC would bring a lead commentator who many of us would feel was…it’s hard to say this without seeming unkind…trying just a little less obviously. Having said that and feeling that JL would be a good choice when recalling his radio performances before he went off to work on football (should have told us something…), the reality is different. JL just doesn’t know his stuff well-enough, inoffensive though he is. We’re a fickle bunch, aren’t we?…

    Whatever happens, keep up the excellent work here. You have earned great respect from what feels like a thoughtful and knowledgeable group of followers.

  23. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    It occurred to me that presuming there is no refuelling next year, Rubens is the last remaining driver with experience of that.

  24. Pat says:

    I’d like to see Ben Edwards (Ex Eurosport) in the commentary box.

  25. monktonnik says:

    I agree that they have had the longest time to get the car right, and that is clearly paying off.

    I don’t agree that they have circumnavigated the rules, and that has been shown several times. Their car is legal. It is better, partly because of it’s gestation period, but also because it is the cleverest design/interpretation of the rules. That is the point of F1.

    Their achievement is entirely genuine when you consider that they haven’t had the fastest car for the last couple of races, but have operated better as a team and got the result. Red Bull have comprimised themselves by not jumping cars they should have been able to beat.

    Rubens lost this race, and all the post race interviews seemed to suggest that there was genuine surprise over this. He was quicker than Jenson up to his 3rd stint on the option tyre, Jenson was faster on the prime in the last stint. No amount of underhand strategy could have done that to Rubens. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes so they could be favouring JB.

    Personally think that your points are unresearched and unqualified, although I hear whay you are saying.

  26. James Allen says:

    You are very on the ball! Some of the team did, yes. The cafes in the departure lounge are always full of F1 teams eating sarnies and drinking beer on a Sunday night. Ross was with me and a colleague for an hour or so in another cafe then went and joined them, can’t confirm his sarnie choice..

  27. James Allen says:

    Who are you addressing this to?

  28. monktonnik says:

    Sorry James,

    I was addressing my comments in response to PaulL.

    Apologies if they overstepped the mark.

  29. PaulL says:

    lol is that an insult james?

    @monktonnik, circumnavigate to me means that they found a way through what the regulations were set out to achieve. I can understand the disappointment of some teams who have developed the cars along with what the FIA wanted to see teams doing – ie KERS and coping with the downforce reduction, only to have a few teams find a way around the wording of what is a “hole”.

    I also don’t think there’s been a race this year where the Brawns haven’t had the strongest race package.

    I’m not a fan that the team allowed JB to copy and paste Rubens’ set up tbh. And then surely if they switched JB on to a 2-stopper in the race, wouldn’t it have kept things equal to switch Rubens too? All the other front runners were stopping twice.

  30. Mr T says:

    james I believe this is a reply to ‘PaulL’

  31. James Allen says:

    No, I’m a regular on Squeezyjet, as we call it.

  32. James Allen says:

    Yes David, and I’m going to do a post shortly analysing Rubens’ race. Having looked through the race history which shows lap times and traffic etc it’s pretty clear that it was the third stint where he dropped off the pace and lost it. Up to then he was on target to beat JB. Maybe by then he was asking himself why the strategy had been switched and doubts were creeping in and he took his eye off the ball.

  33. monktonnik says:

    We depend on you for this kind of insight James! I am just eating a cheese sarnie and rueing that I don’t have any pickle.

    Just like to say that it is great having such direct access to the thoughts and experiences of an F1 insider, but I can’t help feeling that I would prefer it if you were inside the commentary box with MB again on a Sunday afternoon!

  34. Snail says:

    I’ve never understood drinking beer prior to getting onto a plane, where you have limited access to the toilet and for some of the flight (taxiing and immediately after take off) no access to the toilets. Seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

    Nice to read that Ross’ attitude to his team is much more human and people oriented than some other teams.

  35. *Paul_W* says:

    Will you be able to post the lap times James so we can see them (or point us in the direction of where on the FIA maze website they reside?). [ Perhaps a friendly correspondent will help you and post the link. I'm too busy cutting out the naughty words addressed to the administrators of this blessed sport - Moderator ]

  36. monktonnik says:

    Toby, I still think that Schumacher was an extraordinary driver, even when compared to the Alonso’s and Raikonen’s. I am a huge Button fan, but I don’t think that any driver has what Schumacher did.

    Saying that, RB has said that he has revised his opinion of Jenson since working with him this year, so maybe you’re right.

  37. Suzy says:

    I don’t think Schumacher’s most impressive years have been his most dominant years (I agree that with those cars he wasn’t the only one who could have won), but rather those when he didn’t have the best car or had to play catch-up against superior cars. You have seen very little about Schumacher’s career if you are serious about putting Button in the same mould now…

    Button to me is more a Mika Häkkinen type of driver, who needed a lot of time to mature and who can be very quick and consistent when he has a car that suits him (as he has now), but who is vulnerable when it’s not the case (we have seen that while he was at Benetton or even last year when he got beaten by an aging Rubens). Schumacher on the other hand never had a problem with driving around problems when his car wasn’t that great, in fact he did most of his impressive drives in inferior cars. I have yet to see anything just remotely close to that by Button.
    And IMO that’s what seperates the good and the great drivers.

    All credit to Ross and I like him very much. However let me remind you who beat who when he and Michael parted ways for a year in 1996, with Michael going to Ferrari and Brawn staying at Benetton…

  38. Chuck says:

    Toby,

    come on… Button has just won 4 races this year in what happens to be the best car out there. He has a long way to drive before he can compare to Schumacher.

  39. Mav says:

    It would be even nicer if he was in the commentary box instead of Jonathan “He’s though the turn. He’s on the straight. Up the crest. He’s braking hard” Legard

  40. Well said Charlie. Having heard the TV interviews and read the transcripts of the press conferences I think many of the headlines we are reading are more than a little sensationalist.

  41. Toby says:

    :D sorry guys i seem to have given the wrong impression. Obviously there is no comparison between the two. And Suzy you are right about driving around a bad car. It was just a thought that was flying around my head. That perhaps Button’s achievements this year should have a small bearing on schumachers years of dominance. The italian press is readily making comparisons between ferrari’s lack of success without Brawn and BrawnGP’s succes with Brawn. I was only wondering out loud whether the balance of schumacher’s success could, in light of what Button is managing to pull off, be detrimental to Michael’s reputation. Only a theoretical question, something to think about. Not a dig at anyone’s talent!

  42. Suzy says:

    Well, first let me tell you that I am massively impressed by Button this year. The most impressive thing about him is that he doesn’t put a foot wrong. You might say it’s easy with that car but it’s actually not – perhaps Felipe and Lewis could sing a song about that, as they both made lots of mistakes driving the best cars of the field last year. So it’s his cool-headedness and consistency with that Jenson impresses me the most. He is highly effective and as I said he reminds me a bit of Häkkinen (and less of Schumacher, because, IMO he was a different kind of driver with different mentality). Mika too needed to wait a lot for a breakthrough and on the way he too could get beaten when the car didn’t suit him that much (Herbert beat him at Lotus, DC beat him in 1997). But once he got a great car in 1998 he turned mega quick and mega effective and DC had absolutely no chance against him when it mattered. It’s also great to see how Jenson gains more and more confidence with each win. I am very impressed by him and pleased for him.

    However I cannot see how his dominance “takes the shine off Schumacher’s dominance”. In that dominance the most impressive thing was the way that led there, the way that Team Schumacher operated with Michael being the “catalyst” of it (Ross’ words). The domination part was just harvesting the fruits of that years of hard work and setbacks.

    Surely, Ross was an important figure in Schumacher’s success story, as was Jean Todt. Noone has ever denied that. Drivers don’t build cars, drivers don’t manage teams. I too get irritated by suggestions that Alonso/Schumacher/whichever driver can make teams great single-handedly as I find that highly disrespectful to the engineers and the team in general. They all need great engineers, great brains, great teams behind them to succeed and in F1 the car and the team are at least as important as the driver, if not more. But that shouldn’t make us blind of what makes a driver great or legendary, rather than “just good”.

    I agree that Michael needed Ross Brawn to be as successful as he was, but Brawn needed him too (see what happened to Benetton when Michael left but Ross was still there in 1996). I think they both learnt a lot from each other, not just Michael from Ross but Ross from Michael too (as well as from Todt)! And Ross has taken that knowledge to Brawn now. I remember he made a comment last year about how he told Jenson about the way Schumacher worked and to take an example of him. (And BTW, even Pat Symonds is on the record saying that he has learnt his attention to details from Michael, when they were together at Benetton!) IMO Schumacher set new standards in many ways and while those standards can partially be matched (like dominating a season when you have a great car), but it’s very, very hard to match him as a whole and, with all due respect and credit to Jenson, he won’t match them even if he goes on winning race after race this season in a dominant fashion á la Schumacher 2002 or 2004, so no, I don’t think Button’s success would take anything away from Schumacher.

    PS: Sorry, for the rant, I just had a bit of time on my hand :)

  43. Danny says:

    Williams? :-)

  44. Suzy says:

    Of course, I meant in the “battle” between Michael and Ross. I thought that was obvious.

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