F1 Winter Break
3 minutes with…Ross Brawn
3 minutes with…Ross Brawn
Posted By:   |  15 Jun 2009   |  3:47 pm GMT  |  22 comments

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.

Hands up who thinks they'll win Silverstone?

Hands up who thinks they'll win Silverstone?

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.”

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You have to hand it to Ross Brawn - what a class act. The guy has been at the centre of championship winning teams for a long time now, with his leadership, organisation, clever use of resources and knowledge - and the way Brawn GP are conducting themselves so far this season is a final testament he is the best in the paddock (as if one was still needed).


It seems Ross Brawn is taking advantage of the other teams in F1; by the simple rouse of concentrating on the cars, drivers and races.
Are you listening Ferrari?


What I really want to know is if you can get Ross Brawn on tape saying "The same thing we do every night, try to take over the world"

They cherry on top would be Jenson asking Ross what they are going to to do.

Comedy gold people. YouTube bonanza.


The man's a genius - not only an engineering marvel, but he has excellent people and managerial skills and he has learned from his experiences. I like the way he makes sure diffferent people get to go on the podium because he clearly felt the pain of that not happening in his previous career.

It's impressive that he's been able to manage the team so well while playing a pivotal role within FOTA in the dispute with the FIA. He's clearly extremely loyal to people he's worked with. Everyone would understand if Brawn GP walked away from FOTA and filed an unconditional entry for next year because it could be seen as in their interests to do so, but Ross has chosen to stay within FOTA to try and bring people together. He's talked about needing to change the governance of the FIA but also of helping the likes of Ferrari to reduce costs.


I have always been a JB fan, particularly after Schumacher retired, and obviously everyone who has watched F1 since Schumacher started really winning respects Ross Brawn. I am glad to see that my elation when Brawn joined Honda was justified, and I have to say that I never dreamed for a second that JB would be in the position of having a shot at the world championship. I just thought that he might get the chance to win a nother race.

I don't know why RB is siding with FOTA on the budget cap issue. I think that he will be the best man (along with Frank Williams) to cope with a greatly reduced spend and a greater reliance on engineering and organisational skill rather than the lunacy we see today.


Pardon me for being thick (again!) but I am curious about "chassis settings". I was under the impression that the chassis was the tub the driver sat in, I didnt know there was anything adjustable. can you explain? (or failing that lynch him at the GP and make him explain!?)



Superb report James...as ever.

And when you read all that from Ross Brawn the Master, you wonder once more what Richard Branson is playing at...

This is the F1 team to beat so far as all the other teams are concerned. 2009 F1 performance is benchmarked 'BGP oo1'
and you measure your drivers and cars and technical side against that one supreme exemplar.

When other matters which cause anxiety in the broader F1 world are finally settled ( this week we all hope ! ) there will be a queue around the block to sponsor everything Brawn does down to their waste teabags and toilet paper supplies !

So you'd think a man with Branson's acute sense of timing would have closed out the title sponsorship already...but still that magnificent car is dressed in immaculate 'virgin' white....

There has to be a very big story as to why that is still true.


Brawn is one of the greats of the sport! Tip 'o the hat to you, Mr Brawn! May you repeat your success next year!

Honda, what were you thinking, dropping your loyal employees who were diligently building you a winning car? Didn't trust they could come up with the goods with Brawn in the mix?

Shame, Honda, shame.


"then Jenson could be in a position to clinch the title in Japan." - 61 points in Button's bag. 25 points is all he needs to wrap up the WDC, 10 points for Silverstone, 8 for Germany, 8 for Hungary. Mr.Button is very very focused. Danger, if Hungary is the wrap up, viewership will fall straight down the cliff. How are the fans going to witness the remaining 7 races. I do hope I'm very wrong here.


So James did you ask Ross which rules he was building the new car to?
Surely it was the obvious question and I can't believe you didn't ask.


James, here's a question I've been wondering about for a while now: Where would the Brawn car be relative to the others if it still had a Honda engine in the back? i.e. how much of the performance is down to the car and how much is the Merc engine? What do you think?


Good to hear Ross mention working on next years car.

James do you think they have the abilty to develop a quick car next year?

This years car is after all, the most expensive and most developed car on the grid. They have lost Honda, lacking a full sponsorship and potential engine changes (I dont see Merc leaving them though), plus rule changes again (?)

I hope they can stay at the sharpe end next year, but I doubt it.


Accidental Mick

@ Kammy T
On the F1fanatic blog someone posted a link to the information that Honda still owned over 50% of Brawn GP. With Brawn's success this year, perhaps Honda will toss some money into the hat to make it Honda Brawn?

How much of the Benneton dominance followed by the Ferrari/Schumaker dominance can be attributed to Ross Brawn?

The Kitchen Cynic

Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall of the Honda boardroom on alternate Monday mornings...?


It seems Ross Brawn is actually surprised by Jenson's form this year. Let's not forget he was trying to get Alonso for this year (BTW I'm glad he didn't because then we would hear no end of the Alonso made Brawn great BS), so that indicates even he didn't really believe in him. I'm glad to see Jenson prove all doubters wrong and show how important the car (thus the engineers, team managers etc. - so the team) is in F1, because often the TEAM behind a driver is getting little credit from the public as people tend to believe it's all because of their favourite driver why that car is good.

Jenson was no worse driver before, he simply didn't have the car. Similarly, Alonso or Hamilton aren't worse drivers now than they were before, but it's a team sport, not an individual one and the car is the most important element in everybody's success.


Regarding the driving skill of Jenson; I'm always pleased to hear Martin Brundle make a point of how smooth he is with his steering (I can't actually recall MB giving any similar accolades to any of teh other drivers this season apart from probably that "...Vettel will undoubtedly be a major force in F1 in the future").

It seems to me that JB is so naturally suited to the BGP01. It's almost only ever once in a driver's lifetime that this happens (look how long he's been in F1 before getting a car he deserves). It seems clear to me that the BGP01 responds better to a smooth style.

Compare Jenson's smoothness with Rubens', shall we say, somewhat physical approach to driving and it's not hard at all to understand the basic differences in the times between the two cars because the BGP01 doesn't like being flung around.

Anyhoo, I'll be there next weekend to go bananas with everyone else when JB puts the WDC even further out of reach. Ross Brawn must sleep very well these days.


Well he's a very good organiser and knows how to get the best out of people. He's done it at three different teams. If he were a footy manager who achieved that he'd be a legend


Good question and one that was raised earlier in the year. I think the Honda was heavy as well as down on power last year, but they would have been allowed to bring it up to the level of the others over the winter (as Renault were). So hard to say, but definitely there are a few tenths in the Mercedes engine.


A fair point James, and one I have heard expressed by the man himself. I am sure that his loyalties to FOTA and Mercedes are genuine and that he is a decent man for remembering that when others wouldn't. I respect him for that.

My questioning of his position is more speculation as to why he wouldn't try to exploit the potential advantage for the future. Again, probably because he is adecent guy.


From what I have read the problem is the uncertainty that surrounds the 2010 season.
This would be an issue even if a breakaway series was announced, because of the likelyhood of legal action against Ferrari (and RBR/Torro Rosso) which could even result in an injunction against those teams racing in a rival series.
Bernie Ecclestone would pursue them through the courts and he was quoted as saying this would likely be a long process.
All the independants are threatened by this they do not have the luxury of being financed by large corporations that have other sources of revenue.

Through all of this Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug have seemed to be the class act (of the dispute), i suppose in a way Mercedes are part of team Brawn.


He is siding with FOTA because his team wouldn't have happened without FOTA and in particular McLaren Mercedes. Also because he believes that FOTA has the right answers. Don't forget that he has the unique perspective of an independent team owner who also knows how Ferrari works and how big manufacturers (ie Honda) work.

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