Ross Brawn, Mercedes, Monza, 2013

Fresh doubt over Brawn’s Mercedes future

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Ross Brawn, Mercedes, Monza, 2013In the round-up: New claims Ross Brawn will leave Mercedes this year.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Brawn to leave Mercedes (BBC)

“Brawn and Mercedes have failed to reach an agreement on a role in which he would have been happy to stay at the team, sources close to Mercedes have said.”

Mercedes silent on Brawn exit talk (Autosport)

“Mercedes refused to elaborate on the situation, with a team spokesman issuing a firm ‘no comment’.”

Ecclestone accused of “corrupt bargain” in $100m London lawsuit (Reuters)

“Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was accused of making a “corrupt bargain” that cost a German media firm millions in a London court on Tuesday, one of multiple legal challenges that threaten his control of the motor sport.”

Bernie Ecclestone accused of ??corrupt bargain? in sale of F1 (FT)

“Mr Justice Newey declined to let the indictment be put on file: ‘I do find it hard to see about how the indictment can play any role in these proceedings.’ He added: ‘I doubt I will look at the indictment again, expect on factual points.'”

F1’s future on line as Bernie Ecclestone faces London damages claim (The Guardian)

“Ecclestone’s age means his position as the sport’s commercial rights holder ?ǣ effectively the biggest player in the sport ?ǣ has been the subject of mounting speculation in recent years. Many people in F1 feel ?ǣ but do not say so publicly ?ǣ that it is time the sport found a new direction.”

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica, Monte-Carlo, 2010Webber not enjoying F1 as much (Sky)

“Little did I know what we were in for, probably, with the switch in tyres from Bridgestone to Pirelli. That was another thing; it’s up to the drivers to get your head around that and sort that out, but even within the same tyre family – you can see it now with [Lotus team-mates] Kimi [Raikkonen] and [Romain] Grosjean – when you have these slight changes in tyres and how they can really affect the drivers’ performance.”

Interview – Force India?s Vijay Mallya (F1)

“The dream goal would be to finish fifth in the constructors? championship – and the compromised goal would be to finish sixth in the constructors? championship.”

Is the such a thing as a perfect lap? (James Allen on F1?)

Nico Rosberg: “It?s not possible to do a perfect lap. There?s always something where you think you could have done it slightly better and I don?t really believe you can do the perfect lap. You can get very close, and I did in Singapore, but there?s always a couple of hundredths that you leave on the table.”

Behind the lens in Formula One Vladimir Rys Photography (Crank and Piston)

“During the early days of Sebastian Vettel??s time at Red Bull Racing, he used to joke around all the time with everybody. I was shooting him once and trying to get a really nice portrait of him, while he looked at me with his smile on his face ready to deliver another joke and messed up the picture I was trying to get. I looked up to him and kindly asked him to be serious; I think he didn?t expect that, but he understood straight away and has never done that to me again since. Now he is a fully focused, complex driver, who has got three consecutive titles and is just about to reach the fourth and our relationship is fully professional. That makes the pictures even better.”

How do drivers get to F1? (CNN International via Twitter)


Comment of the day

Do F1’s overtaking aids like KERS, DRS and the current tyres mean circuit design should change?

Someone mentioned recently that the ??slow corner ?ǣ long straight ?ǣ slow corner? had become an integral part of Tilke?s circuit design philosophy some time ago as that was understood to increase the chances of overtaking ?ǣ a straight following a fast corner would be useless as the following car could not get close enough to the car in front due to the aerodynamic wake.

These days, I have the feeling that (because of Pirelli tyres?) a faster car can actually get reasonably close in a corner, but out of a slow corner the leading car just pulls an incredible gap (made much worse due to KERS) which makes it difficult to overtake even with 600m DRS zones (we did not really see that much overtaking in India, despite some complaining that DRS was far too strong).

So what is needed is a change in circuit design philosophy ?ǣ a thorough analysis of exactly which types of features can encourage overtaking, and hope that a) this is robust against different generations of cars and b) that not all new circuits will look the same, again. One problem is that billions of dollars have been invested in massively expensive (and often barely used) circuits all over the world. For some circuits, relatively minor tweaks could improve the chances of overtaking (for instance Yas Marina), but fortunately, because of DRS, circuit owners don?t need to!

From the forum

Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

Ayrton Senna won the world championship for the first time 25 years ago today.

He shared the front row of the grid with team mate Alain Prost at Suzuka but started poorly, falling to 14th place. However he used the MP4-4’s superior performance to pick off his rivals and caught Prost, who was struggling in traffic and had briefly been passed by Ivan Capelli.

Senna took the lead off Prost and went on to win the race and with it the title.

Here’s Senna heading towards his first title, with an ecstatic Galvao Bueno commentating – and those brilliant Brazilian special effects:

Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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  • 66 comments on “Fresh doubt over Brawn’s Mercedes future”

    1. Can Brawn transform a midfield into a winner? Yes. That’s exactly what Newey did in Red Bull. BUt once again, you need “the whole package”. So far this year, the only moment I remember Red Bull’s pit crew failing was when Webber’s tyre got loose and went out. But in all the other teams, there have been awful mistakes that have turn a potential great result into a comedy show. That old tale of “Newey is winning both titles” is just that, a tale, because all the team pulls into the winning direction together. Brawn can be a big part of the package, but not all. Mercedes has finally won races this year (Rosberg in China some time ago was more like a good exception) but if the nosecnoe keeps falling or their car keeps eating the tyres, they are far from a WCC.

      1. @omarr-pepper absolutely true. Red Bull have been top tier not only in car design and drivers, but also strategy and pit stops, nailing constantly fast stops every weekend. Ever since 2009, they’ve cut down errors to the extreme, and every step seems easier and much more fluid.

        Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari on the other hand, either take risks everytime, or they make mistakes. Mercedes often put themselves at the wrong end of the strategy camp too… something Brawn used to be brilliant at Ferrari, or maybe it was all the “package” as you say being just spot on.

        Just like Red Bull is at the moment !

      2. So far this year, the only moment I remember Red Bull’s pit crew failing was when Webber’s tyre got loose and went out.

        That happened twice though, didn’t it? @omarr-pepper

        1. @omar-pepper

          So far this year, the only moment I remember Red Bull’s pit crew failing was when Webber’s tyre got loose and went out. But in all the other teams, there have been awful mistakes that have turn a potential great result into a comedy show.

          Ferrari’s pit stops have actually been better and more fluid than Red Bull’s, and they have not made a mistake in the pits like Red Bull did in Nurburgring. Ferrari also have a more reliable car than Red Bull, again, they are better in this aspect.

          However, Ferrari’s biggest struggle in the past 4 years has been the lack of development to their cars, where they always fall behind compared to Red Bull.

          Red Bull are a good team, but they are far from perfect. 2010 and 2012 showed that they are certainly beatable.

      3. What about Williams or Force India? Brawn would be an asset to any team with a Mercedes engine in 2014.

      4. I think Brawn is a good asset to any team, even Red Bull, but I’m sure Mercedes will be well served with Paddy Lowe as team principal.

        I really hope they manage to build a balanced and quick car and Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren manage to do the same. I need to see Vettel going against Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Button and Rosberg in fairly paired car from Australia to Brazil.

      5. @omar-pepper you are right but you could similarly argue that Webber’s many reliability issues and Vettel’s various glitches are not due to luck but are either poor design, bad sourcing quality or poor assembly – all of which should have been addressed by team management. Red Bull are far from “operationally” perfect.

      6. I think Vettel is pretty instrumental in the team’s success too. After all, he has single handly outscored the Mercedes Team. If Mark Webber never turned up all year and the championship ended today Red Bull would still win the constructors. Vettel 322 vs Mercedes 313.

        1. @coefficient
          I’m just being anal here but Webber has also played a role in preventing rival teams from scoring more points than they should have :P

          1. For someone in an RB9 he hasn’t really contributed significantly.

            6th, 2nd, RET, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 7th, 4th, 5th, 3rd, 15th, RET, 2nd, RET

            That’s a pretty poor strike rate considering the exquisite machinery at his disposal.

          2. If you took Webber’s results out of the championship completely, Mercedes would only gain an extra 26 points.

            1. Indeed, and Vettel will probably score 25 at the next race.

            2. True, but Vettel would still have not outscored the Mercedes drivers combined as of yet… just being anal, but yeah.

    2. COTD; Adrian may have a valid point but surely it would be easier and cheaper to fix the cars. A big reduction in wing area is all that is needed.

      1. Reduction in wing surface area leads to less downforce and less drag (in most cases). Less drag = less wake and turbulent air being thrown upwards behind the cars = less slipstream effect for leading car. Please explain your comment

        1. Less turbulance and less reliance on aero grip also means less dirty air and less effect it has on the car behind, allowing the chasing car to sit right on the gearbox of the car in front, even through corners. That would inevitably lead to more overtaking.

          1. Couldn’t have said it better, thanks @mike-e

          2. @mike-e, @hohum, that would certainly help, although not so much on many of the current circuits. How many straights do we currently have that follow a fast corner? There is the hangar straight on Silverstone, the main straight on Monza following the Parabolica, and maybe the back straight of the Nurburgring (there used to be Barcelona, Magny-Cours, Mexico, and probably others that don’t spring to mind now).

            Reduced aero will not make it much easier to overtake on circuits like Abu Dhabi, Korea, and India, where the cars are accelerating away out of a slow corner.

            1. +1

              If Abu Dhabi would only alter the corner complex that leads to the first straight to a medium speed sweeping left hander, than overtaking will be inproved significantly.

              DRS is a bandaid that covers the real wound, rather than a medicine that cures it.

            2. The key example you are missing, is one of the best overtaking circuits on the calendar–Interlagos. This track has none of the hairpin—1km straight—hairpin nonsense that Tilke thinks creates passing.

              I have always thought that the key to passing is not somehow getting cars nose to tail on exit. It is offering the opportunity to have multiple lines in and out of a corner, or multple apexes. In Interlagos, defending into T1 causes all sorts of trouble on the backstraight. Similarly, the looping double-apex corners 4-5 allow a driver to “set up” his quarry, because a defensive line heavily compromises an exit. Also, the main straight follows a fast corner and a medium-speed corner where a driver can pick his apex to suit the behavrior of the car ahead. Basically, a track should incorporate characteristics of a small assymetric oval, like Nazareth in the U.S.. The availability of multiple lines will aslo address the “dirty air” issue.

              The theory that passing will happen when a car follows another out of a corner closely and then drives around it by dint of superior power or less drag or later braking is flawed. If all cars hae the same power and roughly the same efficiency, only traction will make a difference. And the slower the corner, the less traction will matter, because the chasing car won’t even be under power when it matters. Under normal circumstances, what you see in places like Abu Dhabi, is that the pursuing car is right under the wing of the car ahead, but because the corner is so tight, the car ahead gets a massive jump by virtue of being lined up with the corner. This leads to people saying, make the DRS zone longer or make the tires just give up at random point. Both of these are dead-ends as far as the “show.”

            3. @adrianmorse, If car X is able follow car Y nose to tail through a corner without loseing grip (or destroying tyres :( ) then multiple strategies to overtake become available beyond slipstream and pass, a dummy move to the left or right or both can unsettle Y and have Y enter the corner on the wrong line, to fast, to slow etc., sadly no-one misses a gear anymore but by not suffering a disadvantage when directly behind another car the racing is closer and more exciting.

      2. The problem is, as we’ve seen several times, is that the engineers are highly unwilling to unlearn all the downforce-producing strategies they’ve built up over time, meaning they’ll just claw it back through other means, which will basically mean we’ll be back to dirty air again as long as its all about air flowing over the car.

        1. There’s a solution – bring back ground effects.

        2. @optimaximal, that’s true but they wont be able to generate all that downforce in front of the front wheels, the loss of which causes such a massive disadvantage for the following car.

    3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      30th October 2013, 1:19

      Absolutely love that safety car pitstop video!

      So good!

    4. I can well understand why Ross Brawn wishes to have complete control of the team, strategies have to be put in place and persevered with rather than chopped and changed according to who is able to influence the board before or after a disappointing result, MB AMG look vulnerable to ” to many chiefs, not enough indians” syndrome.
      Whatever happens Ross will be just fine, I would like to see him continue in his current position,but if he chooses to retire I wish him well and thank him for his massive contribution to F1.

      1. but if he chooses to retire I wish him well and thank him for his massive contribution to F1.

        Well said, and I echo your sentiments. IMO, if Brawn wants near total control over the team, then he should get it. I’ve several times read/heard about possible power struggles within Mercedes between Brawn and Wolff/Lauda and whatever the Mercedes boardroom wants. This would rightly be an unacceptable working environment for an individual with the cv in F1 Brawn has. Mercedes would be foolish not to accommodate him and far worse off to let him go.

        1. Agree with @hohum and @colossal-squid regarding the excellent contributions of Ross Brawn. I too would prefer to see him stay in F1 and continue making a positive impact. F1 has become larger and more complex on all levels and Mercedes seem to have fallen prey to the corporate think that more upper management talent means more success. Having the right talent is more crucial than having the most talent. Mercedes is also doing the typical corporate thing to justify the hiring of all the talent by giving them all more or less equal powers rather than letting the right guy continue to be in charge. Not to demean the skills of Wolff, Lowe or Lauda, but who would be missed the most by leaving Mercedes, any of them, or Brawn. 2014 is a pivotal season in F1 and Mercedes would certainly be better off with the brains of Brawn than without. Give him what he has asked for, to be in charge, and I bet he will stay. From the outside looking in, it would appear that is why he is rumored to be leaving. Wherever he lands, if it is in F1 it will benefit whoever is wise enough to hire him and us fans too.

        2. @colossal-squid seems that Lowe is already stepping-up. They probably offered Brawn a non-executive position and he has chosen to go fishing, for a man used to lead the team, at 58, getting himself in some cowboy shirt sitting on a comfortable chair in the back of the pits is not that exciting…

          My career advice: go home, take some rest, get you golf and fishing on and write a biography.

          1. Plot Twist: wait for Todt to leave his re-election aspirations, dig out Schumi, and set up a new team.

            1. @zimkazimka Then hire Lewis Hamilton and Vettel :)

          2. @jcost It’ll be a big challenge for Lowe, even though he too has a very good track record. Does he have the personality to stand up to the upper management in Mercedes? That’s my big concern – that he’d be drowned out by the other voices in the team then used as a scapegoat if Mercedes is miss-managed.

            I’d imagine like you said that a hands-off role for Brawn wouldn’t interest him at all! At least the autobiography would be a fascinating read.

    5. I think it is possible to do a perfect lap – if we define perfect lap as maximising his lap time on that given moment (i.e. if he did a perfect lap now, but then track improvement made others quicker later on in the session, that still counts as a perfect lap in that given moment) – but the chances and margins are so slim that no driver in history has ever achieved that yet. As humans we naturally leave a little bit on the table. Even a driver who’s feeling “on it” will just mean that instead of a 99.8%-maximised lap he delivers a 99.9%-maximised lap (I’m making those numbers up)

      Is it humanly possible? I believe so. Has anyone done it before? Not a chance.

      1. I agree, from a physics point of view it’s impossible to do a perfect lap because no human is able to predict the different conditions that each corner will have (wind, grip, tarmac temperature), also no human is capable of producing 100% linear inputs on the steering and throttle.

        Having said that, I’m sure someone somewhere (not necessarily in F1) has produced the best lap humanely possible that no other man in the same conditions would be able to beat.

        1. You could say Mansell might have come closest in ’92, but then the car was probably doing all the prediction for him.

      2. As they say on QI ” Nobody knows”.

      3. I think it comes down to definitions. I’ve heard some drivers say they had the ‘perfect’ lap but as most seem to be agreeing, 100% perfect is not possible for humans. Within a tenth of the a second, sure that can be done, to within a hundredth, probably only once in a lifetime if that, to a thousandth, most likely never.

        It’s one thing that annoys me when people say a driver “outperformed the car”, no they didn’t, but they may have got close to the maximum and therefore outperformed every other driver. But that’s just me being pedantic ;)

    6. I love Vladimir Rys photography, not only from F1, but from other sports. He is in my opinión one of the best and the most creative of them

      1. I relate to him :). I’m an economist by training who happens to be an “amateur” photographer and Getty Images contribuitor :)

      2. Great images indeed, but what kind of massive spunk trumpet do you have to be to ask a driver to be “more serious” for a photo…?

    7. I thought it was very strange that the BBC put the Brawn story on their website straight away with a headline that indicated that Brawn was definitely leaving Mercedes. Nowhere in their story did they try to pull back from this position, so if it turns out that their sources are wrong and he turns out not to be heading anywhere, it’ll be quite embarrassing for them. They also stuck Eddie Jordan’s name (and face) on the article, probably to try add credibility to the story because he broke the “Hamilton to Mercedes” story.

      1. Skysport has also reported him leaving

        1. They did indeed, but I believe that the story originated from the BBC.

      2. They will just adjust the article online and pretend they never made it sound as if this was something new, exclusive and a done deal @geemac. They have been pushing this rumour-mill as news how many times now?

        Funny really. Everyone knew that Ross was going to get out of the team the moment Lauda got in, we got a better view of the future when Loewe was signed on, and since then we have had speculation when it will be. Nothing changed from that point on really, we are still waiting for more.

        1. They do love to just amend their posts and pretend nothing happened…

      3. To be fair, they clarify it by citing the same source of Jordan’s within the team that personally gave him the news about Schumacher joining in 2010 and Hamilton moving for this season – both of which seemed rubbish at the time, but prescient in retrospect.

        That said, there’s been a bit of back-pedalling from the BBC and there’s been no real cover of the story on publications like Autosport, apart from ‘Mercedes aren’t saying anything’.

      4. That seems to be how BBC F1 website runs, a healthy dose of speculation translated into attention grabbing headline.

        It’s disappointing.

    8. At some point Merc had to concede that Ross is perhaps just not as good as Newey.

      To be fair, they did give him ample chance though

      1. And there’s no shame in not being as good as Adrian Newey. Somebody like Newey unbalances the playing field; he’s just too good.

      2. It’s an apples and oranges comparison – Adrian Newey is a design engineer, Ross Brawn is a technical manager. Adrian Newey doesn’t sit on the pit wall advising on race strategy – he’s there for support regarding the running of the cars.

        1. @optimaximal
          Both men had the ultimate responsibility of creating the fastest car in F1.
          Newey has consistently won this challenge, I would call that apples and oranges.

          1. To be fair I don’t think anyone is as good at what he does in F1 as Newey. Even back when Brawn was part of the MS/Ferrari era, it was opined that Newey was more important to whatever team he was on than MS was to Ferrari. But comparing Brawn to Newey seems odd to me. Different roles on the team. I think it is a bit of a stretch to rate them by saying that both men had ultimate responsibility to create the fastest car in F1. Both men need many ingredients to come together to make a winning car, and there were weekends this year when that car was a Mercedes, so if you are going to hang Brawn out to dry for ‘failing’ on that basis then there’s a lot of other team principals I’d be hanging out to dry way before Brawn.

          2. @jason12Everybody on a team has the responsability to make the fastest car possible.

            That doesn’t change that Brawn’s and Newey’s roles in that task is very different.

          3. @jason12

            Both men had the ultimate responsibility of creating the fastest car in F1.

            If you’re playing that card, then you really need to compare Adrian Newey to John Barnard, Rory Byrne, Gordon Murray, Geoff Willis & Nicholas Tombazis.

            1. Who are those guys?…. :D

    9. I did a double take when I read this

      Bernie Ecclestone accused of ‘corrupt bargain’ in sale of F1 (FT)
      “Mr Justice Newey declined to let the indictment be put on file . . .

      Damn, I thought. Red Bull gets everywhere!

    10. I don’t want Brawn to leave, i think he has been a biggggg help at merc. I can understand why he wants to have total power but what he did with brawn when he won with jenson and rubens was impressive. But i just don’t know if they will struggle or make progress next season with all of the new regulations if he is not there. After all bbc wont want him to stay now!

      1. Brawn GP was a special case – I believe because they didn’t initially have an entry in 2009, they weren’t bound by the sporting rules and could develop the car in multiple wind tunnels with no time or expense restrictions.

        Given they had Honda’s pot-of-gold severance funding, all they could do with it was spend it on making the best car possible, which they did!

    11. I really feel for Mark. It seems he has a lot in his mind and knows a lot that we do not know. I am looking forward to reading his book once he retires. It´ll be interesting to say the least!

    12. Brawn was a special case, but in that Ross had got to grips with the team in 2008 and due to the incredibly poor 2008 car had moved on to the 2009 car and the new regs before anyone else.
      He also identified the DD loophole and made it work out of the box…………if anything the 2009 Honda could have been more special than the Brawn as Brawn had to use Merc engine it wasnt designed for and didnt get the “special” gearbox that Honda apparently had developed in Japan.
      The car declined over the year due to lack of funding and factory numbers, whereas RBR improved. That they failed to capitalise on this in the following years with Schumi is reflective of the big changes that had to be made at Brackley and the constant improvement of RBR whose car just evolves and improves from year to year and, most impressivly, during the season.

    13. Bernie allegedly involved in corrupt bargain…
      And in other news the sky is blue and water is wet…

    14. looking at Brawn’s past 5 seasons – in 2009 he was lucked in on the most impressive launch car of the past couple decade. as the year went on, Redbull caught up and passed them in pace. In 2010 to 2012 the Mercedes was quick at the start and faded miserably as the season went along. it became a common trend. this year too, the team looked quick but haven’t got in right as the season unfolded. I guess he has had 4 seasons at Mercedes, they are not much further ahead in the championship, and way down from the Honda designed 09 car, so Mercedes are thinking logically – lets give other people a go in the hierarchy, or they could be finished 3rd/4th for the next ten years.

      1. If by “lucked in on” you mean “took the decision to abandon the atrocious 2008 car early and start on the 2009 car with all of Honda’s resources and the idea for the double decker diffuser which was legal because of a loophole to which he had brought everyone’s attention and tried to close” then I agree completely ;-)

      2. Mercedes is 2nd in the WCC now. I’d say that, over 3-4 years, he has brought the team up quite nicely. They now have two of the best drivers on the grid. The car is always a threat on Saturday and getting much more consistent on Sunday. I’d say a reshuffle is not really wise now.

        And the analysis of finishing 3/4 all the time, if applied to McLaren, where expectations are higher, would mean cashiering the entire pitwall and handing out a big stack of pink slips in Woking. McLaren would be overjoyed to get back to their usual 3-5 positions in the WDC and fighting for 2nd in a WCC.

        1. Well said @dmw Personally I had thought Ferrari and Lotus would be strong competition for Red Bull this year and that Merc would be happy with a strong 4th in the WCC or maybe a weak 3rd, which would have been an improvement over last year, but given where they sit right now, I don’t see what the team would have to complain about regarding Brawn. (Not saying they are complaining, or that Brawn is…don’t know what to make of the rumours…just saying I agree they should stand pat while they seem to be on an upward curve and everyone seems to rate them highly in terms of their chances next year, being a manufacturer based team).

    15. Woot? It’s my birthday today, guys!!

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