Ross Brawn issued a brief Question and Answer document today, to mark his first full day as a team owner. It doesn’t say much, beyond expressing relief and joy that they finally got there and some heartfelt thanks to Honda and Mercedes for making it happen.
Interestingly he does not pick up on the theme expressed yesterday that this deal would not have happened without FOTA, nor does he express heartfelt thanks to Bernie Ecclestone (who offered to fund the buyout) nor the FIA.
He says that he is looking for ‘respectable’ performance this season. What is respectable in F1? Well clearly last year’s performance by the Honda team, especially given the budget they were working with, was far from respectable.
Now the team is a privately owned independent with a customer engine, like Williams. It will have to measure itself against Williams’ standards. It would be bold to think that they will outperform Williams this season, especially given the lateness of the decision to go ahead, but that must be their target.
Honda could be embarrarassed by the team’s performance over the next couple of years. Ross doesn’t mess around and he will get the best from the people and the resources he has and it’s quite possible that that will move the team up the grid to the point where they are doing a better job than Honda managed, despite a fraction of the resources.
What will also really help him is the drastic cut in spend by the teams and the next step of the FIA’s cost reduction policy. Brawn GP has class leading facilities and engineers. It has a world class leader, a championship winning engine and two of the quickest and most experienced drivers in the field.
That’s quite a lot to build on and quite a lot to shout about.
Where do they go from here? To the Barcelona test where I will get my first look at the car and chat to the team next week. After that they will squeeze in another three days testing at Jerez from 15-17 March before crating the cars and sending them to Australia.
I don’t imagine there will be too big a drama building the second car, in fact it may well already be built despite the risks of committing funds to a chassis build without knowing whether the team was going to survive.
I expect some reliability issues to start with, but my sense is that everyone in the pit lane, in the stands and in front of their tellies will rejoice that the team has been saved and F1 now has a new underdog team to support.
If I were them I’d position the team as the underdogs, the fans’ favourite, start with a clean sheet of paper in terms of how they engage the public and give great interactivity. Super Aguri did no marketing but quickly built a massive following because they were the underdogs. It might seem odd for Ross, previously the dominant force in F1 in his Ferrari days, to be cast as an underdog, but that’s where the team are now. And his brilliant track record is the thing which gives genuine belief to the notion that they could make the dream come true and get to the top.
That is the story F1 most needs to tell.