Mercedes boss Ross Brawn has had more to say on the dynamic between his two drivers this season. He said that he has great faith in Nico Rosberg and that he does not want Michael Schumacher to dominate the team. He makes it clear that he feels that favouring one driver damages the motivation of the other.
Speaking in an interview with F1.com, Brawn spoke of Rosberg benefitting from being Schumacher’s team mate to set him up for life after Schumacher’s retirement.
“I never wanted Michael to dominate, ” he said. “(At Ferrari) Michael dominated because he was the best. There was never a structure that enabled him to dominate. He dominated because he was the fastest and most consistent driver. So we will have to see how the season develops.
“It is not good having one driver dominate a team because that means the other driver is not performing as he should. I don’t want Michael to dominate. I want them both to compete very strongly and both to win races. But at the end of the day we want to win the championship. Decisions may develop where one driver has to be given extra support for the championship but we won’t do that until the situation arises. Until then it is a completely open competition and I don’t want one driver to dominate the other.”
At Ferrari. Brawn made the decisions, especially during races, but the tone was set by Jean Todt, then the team principal. In his own team, Brawn made some decisions last season which went Jenson Button’s way during races and which irritated Rubens Barrichello, but close analysis of the decisions shows that they allowed Barrichello a chance to come out on top, but he failed to take it. At Ferrari he was clearly moved out of the way on occasions to Scumacher’s benefit. It is unlikely that this would be repeated at Mercedes partly because Brawn is in charge and times ahave changed, partly because it would not be what Mercedes want and partly because Rosberg is the kind of driver who would have a lot to say about it.
That said, every team will invoke some priority later in the season if one of the drivers is going for the world title.
I find Brawn’s comments on Rosberg very interesting. He says he tried to hire him for Honda in 2007 and has the highest admiration for his raw talent. Like many drivers in his position, the first win is a hurdle he needs to overcome soon. Many people admired Rosberg’s performances after a shaky start last season, but to hear Brawn speak in such glowing terms is interesting. He’s not normally given to eulogies on young drivers. He normally only speaks in glowing terms like this of drivers he knows well.
“We have tried to sign Nico for several years,” he says. “We had strong discussions with him two years ago. We see Nico as a great talent, but it needs finishing and maturing. He has not won a race yet, although he came very close, and I think it is a wonderful partnership between him and Michael. They work well together and I see Michael helping Nico develop his career. Michael has come out of retirement but we have to accept that there will come a day when he has to stop forever and then we will have Nico.”
As for the new car, which will debut on Monday, Brawn expects a significant performance step from the chamionship wining Brawn car of 2009. This will make it a pretty competitive machine unless one of the main rivals has found some unique solution to deal with the added weight and tyre wear of the cars under the 2010 rules.
“It’s probably quite a bit quicker, ” he says. “We have two stages with the car. The one you will see in Valencia and a different car that you will see in Bahrain.”