Ross Brawn took part in a teleconference today ahead of the weekend’s British Grand Prix.
It’s been a stunning first half of the season for Brawn, with six wins from seven races and 16 trophies in the cabinet. Jenson Button is on target to win the world championship. If things carry on as they have so far, then Jenson could be in a position to clinch the title in Japan.
Many people, including Ross, thought that Red Bull in particular would be hard to contain in Turkey and he was delighted with the way his team attacked the main weakness their car had relative to the Red Bull, it’s performance in the fast corners. The result was a more comfortable victory than anyone expected and it gives the team a lot of confidence going into the high speed corners of Silverstone.
But, as Ross points out, Rubens Barrichello is a formidable competitor around the old airfield track and could easily get stop Button making it a British win in the final race at Silverstone.
“Rubens is extremely strong at Silverstone, because of his early career a lot of time was spent here. He seems to fit with the track; he likes it and it suits his driving style. It’s not a track which is particularly sensitive to brakes, for example, which is an area he often finds quite critical on a car. I expect him to go very well this weekend and he is extremely motivated despite the challenge of beating Jenson.
So they are still going at each other then, no team orders?
“We have a sporting meeting before the race and last Sunday they said, ‘Are we still free to race?’ and I said, ‘Yes, but just don’t hit each other.’ I don’t expect them to do a 50-50 overtaking manoeuvre where they put each other at risk, that’s all I ask. I think it helps with the atmosphere inside the team. In terms of the championship, he has a challenge because Jenson is driving exceptionally well and for Rubens to have a chance, Jenson has to start dropping points through DNFs (non-finishes).”
How much has Jenson Button impressed you? Did you think he was this good?
“I just continue to be impressed. Last year I saw little flashes of it but they were such difficult circumstances, I didn’t benefit from seeing the real deal. But people within the team whom I respect said, ‘You are not seeing him at his best, seeing what he’s capable of doing.’ I think I am now seeing it and I think it was just shrouded by the poor car we had last year. Two years of banging your head against the wall with a poor car just takes the edge off you, it has to. He’s rejuvenated because of the performance and you are now seeing his natural ability and he has the approach and the attitude supporting that.”
You started the season with a car advantage and yet, here we are after seven races and you still have it. You must be delighted that you have kept improving the car?
“When we got back to the European season, the consensus was that we were going to come under huge pressure from the steps that the big teams were going to make, so quietly we went about making some steps ourselves. With Turkey what I was especially pleased with was we had identified that Red Bull were faster than us in the quick corners and we had focussed on that, the aerodynamic group and the chassis group, to find ways to set up the car differently, to find improvements in the aero and I think in Turkey in Turn 8, we were one of the quickest cars, as quick as Red Bull. That showed great strength.”
Do you worry that this year will be a flash in the pan, because you focussed Honda’s money on this car for so long and that you won’t be able to repeat it next year?
“We had a major restructure over the winter, but I can already see from the development of next year’s car that it is already progressing strongly enough and the output from what I call the ‘centres of performance’ of the team is maybe even stronger than before because of the clearer focus and structure we have in place. Obviously we have lost some capacity for manufacturing and for design and those are the areas we will have to be careful with to make sure we can cope. But I think you can see from the way we are developing the car this year – and we have new parts for Silverstone – that we are managing to keep up.”
What’s in the pipeline?
“We have new front wing endplates for Silverstone and new rear wing, some different chassis settings again which have come from rig work we have done. We’ve got some upgrades over the next few races which should help again.”