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Brawn looks to 2010 with confidence
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Brawn looks to 2010 with confidence
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Aug 2009   |  4:31 pm GMT  |  17 comments

Over the weekend I heard that the Brawn team had signed a new sponsor for 2010 and had some off the record chats about it with some of the people there.

Next year there will be less white space

Next year there will be less white space

Today I see that the story is in the open as Autosport has got Nick Fry to talk on the record about it,
“We’ve signed some nice contracts, and those will come out into the open when we launch the car next year, but we will see what happens. There is zero worry on our side,” he said.

Brawn has had a great year by anyone’s standards and look likely to win at least the constructors championship and the drivers’ as well. The car has had pretty thin sponsorship this year as it came into life at a time of great economic uncertainty as the world’s financial institutions rocked. At the same time there was terrible instability in F1 as the large egos in F1 were bashing up against each other in a process which led to the announcement of the breakaway series in June, followed a month of so later with the resolution and the signature of the Concorde Agreement.

With that milestone passed, Brawn has been able to conclude a title sponsorship deal with a company, I hear it may be an Asian company but that was from a non-team source and there are other companies looking for the title sponsorship deal who may become secondary sponsors.

“That (Concord Agreement) was a log jam because sponsors wanted to know what the situation was, ” said Ross Brawn when I asked him on Saturday about the team’s financial strength, “And things are freeing up. Everyone up the pit lane will find that things are now much better because we know what the commercial basis is for the future.”

I spoke to Zak Brown of Just Marketing, one of F1′s top sponsor getters and he said that he expected a few companies to come into Formula 1, who had been in a holding pattern waiting for the politics to get resolved. But he added that it would not be a ‘deluge’. Renault is looking for a title sponsor at the moment.

With regard to Brawn it is also worth remembering that as constructors’ champions, the team will be entitled to something in the region of US$70 million of TV and prize money from FOM. So they will be well beyond $100 million budget for next year at a time when budgets are coming down dramatically thanks to the resource restriction agreement. In many ways Brawn is a blue-print for the F1 team of the ‘resource restricted’ era; owned by a group of shareholders who don’t have to go to a company board to get a decision, strongly engineering led, buying a manufacturer engine at low cost.

The only thing is, how competitive will they be next season? Can they keep it up? My hunch is that they will slip back a little from this year’s pre-eminence because they are now in the position that McLaren and Ferrari were in 12 months ago of having to keep developing this car to win the title at the expense of next year’s. With the resource restrictions in place wind tunnel time is limited so any time spent making this car faster is time spent not working on next year’s car.

Ferrari has already thrown its efforts into 2010, I’m slightly surprised that McLaren is still going for it as much as it is on this year’s model.

Of course working on next year’s car is only any use if you have an idea – as Brawn did with their double diffuser. Ferrari seem to have for next year and you’ve got to imagine that they will be pretty strong in 2010.

Meanwhile Virgin, which has supported Brawn to a small extent this year, is going to be title sponsor at Manor and I think the team cars will be named after them, along the lines of what Benetton did in the 1990s. This was a model Sir Richard Branson was attracted by when he came into the paddock at the start of the season and I’m sure that he will be attracted by the idea of getting all the brand recognition of running Virgin-Cosworth cars.

He sees the attraction of F1 for business-to-business deals; not long after he came into F1 he managed to sell a stake in Virgin Galactic to the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, a deal brokered in the F1 paddock. That is a good example of how well F1 cane work as a business.

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17 Comments
  1. Adrian says:

    “…they are now in the position that McLaren and Ferrari were in 12 months ago of having to keep developing this car to win the title at the expense of next year’s.”

    Of course this is not such a big deal as it was last year though thanks to the overall stability in the rules. That is that aero work from this year can be carried over onto next year’s car.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      I’ve never really bought this line about developing last year’s car to the bitter end lost development time for this years. McL, and to a lesser extent Ferrari, have been using this as an excuse, and it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. BMW stopped development very early last year, and look how much good it did them.

      McL and Ferrari were distracted by Kers (as was BM), but above all, didn’t work the regs astutely. McL in fact seem to have got everything wrong. Remember them running around with last years wing trying to isolate their problems ? It’s taken them till July to really work it out. That’s nothing to do with working late on last year’z car, just foggy thinking and a bad job (as I’m sure they would acknowledge).

      As others are saying, there’s a lot more in common between 2009 and 2010. If you’re clever, you should still be able to learn things this year which will help next, especially an engineering-led outfit like Brawn. Good luck to them – they’ve been fantastic and a breath of fresh air.

    2. Lee Gilbert says:

      I would largely agree with the comments made here by Grabyrdy and Adrian.

      McClaren also used to run 2 development teams – I don’t know if they still do, but I think they do – where 1 runs the current year car and develops it and the other is already on next years – alternating as they go. Albeit not at full resource but certainly they are well versed to working like that.

      McClaren have admitted they went the wrong way with the design of the car aero. Ferrari aren’t saying much as they haven’t really solved their problems with this years car.

      Basically, next year’s rules have very little change. Fuel tank size increase required and no tyre warmers will be the main things – so a car good on tyres will be needed which in colder conditions will need improvement from the Brackley boys. The good thing for Brawn though, will be that the car has always run better with fuel in it this year than when its light – so the current car design will help them there to build on for next year.

  2. John says:

    I won’t tender any predictions about Brawn’s performance next year, but I do think their situation is different than McLaren and Ferrari last year. There is rules stability (from a technical perspective) that means the 2010 car will be essentially a development of the 2009 car. McLaren and Ferrari, on the other hand, were putting resources into the dead end 2008 cars that had little bearing on the 2009 car. So, as Brawn continues to develop the 2009 car, this should benefit the 2010 car, too.

    I think McLaren are in a similar position. They are headed in the right direction, so they decided to keep putting resources into the car. Ferrari, on the other hand, seem to be taking a “back to the drawing board” approach.

  3. John says:

    Another comment…

    It’s always boggled my mind that teams are awarded money on a sliding scale that rewards more points with more money. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor.

    Is it any wonder that the small, independent teams can’t climb their way up the grid?

    1. Snail says:

      Indeed, some of the US sporting series are better in this regard. I think American (GridIron) football rewards all teams pretty much equally so that you don’t get just a few teams with the best players. I think basketball does the same.

      The result: A more even group of teams and better sporting outcomes for spectators.

      Its kind of odd in a country that is so anti anything-remotely-resembling-socialism(*) that they take such an even handed approach. But the results speak for themselves. F1/FOM would do well in terms of improving the show by distrubting the money more evenly between the teams.

      (*) Never mind the fact that much of what they call socialism has nothing to do with socialism, but thats another debate for a different website.

  4. Red Kimi says:

    The money they win in the Championship should help them huge… Plus they stole a top aero guy from Ferrari a few months back for next year.

  5. monktonnik says:

    The hope has to be that even if the 2010 car is not the leader in testing they will have the resources to get it into shape in the early part of the season, as Red Bull did this year.

    It is likely that they will win or come second in both championships. Either way that is a lot of money, and I am glad that they wont have another winter under the “Sword of Damcles”.

  6. Anthony says:

    I believe that there is no reason for Brawn not to be successful next year as they will have a decent budget by all accounts. Surely now we will see that Ferrari and McLaren will not be able to spend their way to the top as in the past as they cut their budgets in line with all the other teams as per new Concord agreement. I realise that they will be able to afford more expensive drivers, but as McLaren has shown in the first part of the season even Lewis Hamilton can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear

  7. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    McLaren are doing the smart thing in developing this year’s car because there isn’t any difference in the aerodynamic regulations for next year. The only thing that could chance is that they have to shape the bodies differently to accommodate a larger fuel tank, but I doubt this will make a big difference, especially since they apparently won’t be running KERS next year.

    The Brawn model of a team really isn’t much different from the McLaren model. Yes, Mercedes is a partner in the team, but they don’t run the team and don’t have ultimate control over the team’s decisions. They just build the engines and beg Martin for a German driver. Ferrari don’t operate so differently, as for one they are mainstays and don’t have to justify their existence in F1 to the FIAT board (as the BMW and Honda teams did to their corporate boards) but also are basically allowed to run the team unimpeded by FIAT. The same is the situation at Red Bull.

    I would argue that the McLaren model is the best way of going about running a team. They have an engine partner in Mercedes who owns a stake in the team and only spends its resources on engine development, which keeps costs down for the manufacturer. McLaren rake in major sponsorship money from large corporations to finance the rest of the team.

  8. rpaco says:

    I have just been looking at the new “Stable” Tech Regs for 2010, there have been some changes and then again there haven’t:
    Firstly KERS…. IS still allowed but only at the same level as this year, and only on the rear wheels, not the increased level first published and on all four, which would have been really interesting.
    But since all teams have agreed not to use KERS in 2010 it seem odd that it was left in. Its an obvious cost saving, but will any team change it’s mind and put KERS back in???
    (I doubt it because of the increased fuel bladder size necessary next year, there won’t be room for KERS batteries/capacitors)

    The moveable front flaps for next year are the same as this year again and do not have the increased range of movement first shown in the earlier version of the regs.

    Notably the only way to change the new regs is in accordance with the 2009 Concord agreement.
    (The contents of which,no one knows)

    I mention all the above as a part of deciding how far to develop this year’s car and it’s relevance to next seasons requirements. Quite a lot but it’s still a new body new floor.

    One interesting fact gathered from last weekend was that the fuel often reaches 100C in the bladder behind the driver’s back. So next year, will the double amount of fuel lead to any back cooling problems? Did it the old days, the last era with no refuelling ?
    (A coating of Starlite would fix that)

    1. James Allen says:

      Williams were the ones who kept it there, Rpaco and as you know, they have the flywheel system up their sleeves

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        James, Brawn (and Williams) have given the latest demonstration of seizing advantage by carefully looking at what the rules do NOT say to get creative. To that end, some comments on the tech regs this year and next and the scope the teams allegedly lack for innovation:

        As I read the regs, wings are NOT required. And the regs don’t give a minimum size for them, only a maximum size and range of location. Dump the wings and radically cut the drag. Think uprated FFord. A DOHC layout (once scorned by F1 as the domain of the “obsolete” Offy and the Indy roadsters it powered) is NOT required — the reg says 90 degree V8 with 4 valves per cylinder. In theory, you could run a DOHV engine, or even a D(ouble)S(ide) V(alve). A rear engine is not even required; given that every team keeps trying to get weight forward, a front-mid engine could be an advantage. And it doesn’t have to be a big car. Take a look at a Watson or Epperly Indy roadster and tell me if it’s bigger than any F1 car of the last fifteen years. Maybe stick wings and diffuser on one. Even choice of driven wheels is open: You could go FWD if you wanted. Or put a front-mounted radiator into a rear engined car, cutting down frontal area and hence drag.

        Point is, much as a the Williams flywheel (a flywheel!) KERS and the Brawn double-deck diffuser (biplane wing, anyone?) are new twists on old ideas, any of the “obsolete” or “radical” solutions I’ve mentioned could provide an advantage. As we’ve seen, spending time, effort and money continuing along the path of the current “state of the art” doesn’t guarantee success, or even a competitive car. And that’s happened in every era of F1. Since you may fail anyway, why not put those resources into daring greatly?

        Do you think any of the teams currently on the grid, or soon to be there, have it in them to embrace such radical thinking, seizing advantage through the unexpected? It would be great to see. Or did that willingness to defy convention go out with Colin Chapman?

      2. James Allen says:

        Interesting question. I’ll put it to one of the engineers this weekend.

      3. Martin Collyer says:

        Gordon Murray is still around!!!

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