Mercedes could ‘do a Brawn’ – but it’ll be without him

2014 F1 season preview

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The last time Formula One saw a rules shake-up of anything like the magnitude it faces this year was in 2009, when the aerodynamic regulations were overhauled and the first energy recovery systems introduced.

Ross Brawn, who Honda had appointed as their team principal two years previously, judged the forthcoming change to perfection. His car swept to the constructors’ crown and made Jenson Button a world champion.

But by then, of course, Honda had bailed out of F1. The cars were called Brawns and they were powered by Mercedes.

Five years later we could be heading for a repetition of history – of sorts. Another extensive rules change is upon us and once again Brawn has been preparing the ground for his team – which Mercedes took over in 2010 – to make an assault on the championships.

Only this time it’s Brawn who won’t be around to marshal their efforts. Following season-long speculation last year Mercedes confirmed his departure in November. Is the team he left behind ready to ‘do a Brawn’ once again?

The signs from testing are that Mercedes are in very good shape indeed. The W05 was the first car to hit the track at Jerez and the first to achieve a race distance.

It hasn’t been faultless – gearbox and engine changes were required over the last two days of testing in Bahrain – but it has covered more ground than any other car (just short of 5,000 kilometres, not counting Mercedes’ filming day at Silverstone) and frequently appeared near the top of the times.

Mercedes’ early investment in their 2014 engine programme appears to have borne fruit. On top of that, their pool of customer teams is larger and stronger than those of Ferrari and renault, which has helped accumulate far more mileage on the new power units. Together with McLaren, Williams and Force India the PU106A Hybrids have amassed almost as much running as their two rivals combined.

It stands to reason that a team which manufactures both engine and chassis is best placed to master the installation of these dauntingly complex new units. It’s another reason to believe Mercedes are holding the strongest hand, at least at this early stage.

They’re giving away little when it comes to their driver line-up as well, and are the only front-running team with continuity in this area. Few can live with Lewis Hamilton’s sheer speed and Nico Rosberg’s stock just keeps rising.

At times last year they were a bit too closely matched – Rosberg was not impressed at their battle being called off in Malaysia – and if there’s a drivers’ championship riding on it the team will have to keep a lid on the inevitable tensions.

Brawn may have gone but he hast left behind a strong and well-formed team, headed up by Toto Wolff on the business side and Paddy Lowe in engineering. Last year they jumped up to second in the constructors’ championship and the early indication is they could go one better this time.

Mercedes’ F1 record

1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Championship position 4 4 5 2
Points 214 165 142 360
Wins 4 5 0 0 1 3
Pole positions 4 4 0 0 1 8

NB. Mercedes did not have a factory team between 1956 and 2009.

Over to you

Are Mercedes the pre-season favourites? Do you think one of their drivers will be world champion? Have your say in the comments.

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Images © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Mercedes could ‘do a Brawn’ – but it’ll be without him”

  1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
    7th March 2014, 11:09

    I love how “Doing a Brawn” has just become the standard reference for dominating in F1.

    1. no it doesn’t. it means taking advantage of a regulation change to win a championship.

      Brawn didn’t dominate in 2009. They were best prepared for the new rules and racked up wins in the first half of the season. but the competition caught up and by the end of the season at least two teams were faster than them. It was pretty much damage limitation in the second half of the year for Brawn. I wouldn’t call that dominating F1.

      Red Bull didn’t “do a Brawn” in the last four years. Neither did Ferrari in the 2000s. I’d say Renault “did a Brawn” in 2005 when they capitalized on the tyre changes, and ended Ferrari’s domination.

      1. Even more amazing when you realise they had to bastardise their car to fit the Merc lump in it.

      2. +1
        Subtle yet important difference there.

    2. No that would be “doing a Vettel” or doing a Red Bull currently (from referencing to Schumacher as a driver and Williams, McLaren or Ferrari as teams)

  2. It stands to reason that a team which manufactures both engine and chassis is best placed to master the installation of these dauntingly complex new units.

    So true. I’m surprised Ferrari don’t look worse considering they only concentrate on top of the range sports cars on the road. V6 must be very strange stuff for them.

    1. How so? They had a very effective 1.5 litre V6 turbo F1 engine not that long ago.

    2. The Stratos’s engine was a Ferrari V6.

    3. @shimks F1 changed to V6 in the 50’s to stop Ferrari’s dominance long story short Ferrari won again.

    4. Ferrari are also building turbo V6s in the new generation Maseratis.

    5. Ah, okay, I didn’t know that. I’m not an expert by any means, so a lot of my opinions are based purely on assumptions. I hope that is okay!

      Thank you for educating me, peeps!

  3. I think Brawn just decided to take a step back and allow the new management take the glory for any success they achieve this year, because the Management of Mercedes want to see that the new structure they have in place running the F1 team, Lowe, Wolff, Lauda, are consistently getting the results, thus Brawn probably believes now is the time to let them take charge and grow in confidence.
    No doubt Lowe is capable of steering the engineering side, but he has inherited a meticulously built engineering arsenal, and while I have no intention of maligning Wolff, he no doubt has benefited from Brawn’s calm but directed approach towards solving problems. So the 2 or 3 headed eagle now have to learn to speak with one voice and consistently so, and avoid contradicting each other.
    A lot rests on the results they achieve this year, if they start polarising the team, it could end up in a disaster.

  4. The Blade Runner (@)
    7th March 2014, 11:29

    I love the Mercedes F1 graph (above). I often ask the more aggressive Merc fans “so what sport did you follow before 2010?!”

    Joking aside, they do look like they’ve got a huge opportunity this season.

    1. They might’ve been supporting McLaren ;)

      1. The Blade Runner (@)
        7th March 2014, 11:42

        It’s an interesting phenomenon isn’t it? You don’t get football fans changing their allegiances when their team’s star player moves elsewhere but it happens a lot in F1.

        1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
          7th March 2014, 11:50

          It is weird how my team interests have changed:

          2011: McLaren
          2012: Ferrari
          2013- Mercedes

          1. All the closest challengers to Red Bull?

          2. not a true fan then!

        2. It is indeed interesting. I was just thinking someone who is a fan of Mercedes now would’ve backed their former works team (McLaren) before 2010, perhaps.

          My allegiance lies with McLaren. But as a Hamilton fan I also want Mercedes to do well as that would mean him doing well.

          1. This is what I love about F1, it’s so easy to be a fan of a sport rather than a team. You can support a driver but not his team, or you can start to support a team because a driver moved there. I like it. This year I’m most interested in Williams and Jenson Button.

          2. This is what I love about F1, it’s so easy to be a fan of a sport rather than a team. You can support a driver but not his team, or you can start to support a team because a driver moved there. I like it. This year I’m most interested in Williams and Jenson Button.

            Completely agree. I’m a fan of F1. There are some drivers I like or dislike, and some teams I like or dislike, but my allegiance is to the sport.

          3. The Blade Runner (@)
            7th March 2014, 14:25

            This is what I love about F1, it’s so easy to be a fan of a sport rather than a team.

            Soooo true. My favourite drivers and team can be nowhere to be seen but I still normally spend the best part of 2 hours on the edge of my seat.

          4. Yes, I feel the same way too.

        3. I think it’s because they get so much more facetime, even a star signing who you dont really like can be ignored for the 10 other players, same with when your favourite player leaves.

          In f1, for example, if someone is a lotus fan who lets say loves kimi then last year that was great but this year instead they have to put up with maldonado who is a pretty hateful character, i wouldnt blame them for not supporting lotus as much.

          Personally I have driver and team allegiences, McLaren and Williams, and Lewis and Kimi (Hulkenberg is growing on me a lot too). And I dont find they conflict each other too much (though when they do the drivers take precidence).

          1. The Blade Runner (@)
            7th March 2014, 14:35

            I’m similar but with reverse priorities. McLaren and Williams are my teams and my drivers are Jenson, Fernando, Lewis and Kimi. If I’m pushed though, McLaren take priority.

            I’ve had little interest in Williams for the last few seasons due to a certain Mr. Maldonado, despite being at Catalunya in 2012, but that’s changed in a big way this year.

            It’s interesting though isn’t it? Friends of mine that aren’t into F1 see us F1 fans as fickle and it’s wasy to see why until you actually think hard about it.

          2. Hard to be fan of a F1 team since they appear and disappear, in 5/10 years.

            Were you a Benetton fan? Where are they now?
            Are you a RedBull fan? Check this space in 2/3 years

            Then there is Ferrari but that is another planet completely. You can mostly associate F1 with Ferrari and think of F1 as ‘everyone trying to beat Ferrari’.

            Cool that Mercedes is in the field with a 100% in-house developed car, hope story would be different than BMW and Toyota…

          3. I’m an F1 fan, because it is a sport, which doesn’t use Amish technology levels to keep a fair competition between the human athletes. On the contrary the real competition in F1 is a combination of the design/engineering development, production, fielding, testing, evolving, together with the competition between the crew running the car over a race weekend and the cooperation between the drivers and their race engineer and then last but not least the competition between the drivers. My wish for the future is to get more insight into the more hidden stars in F1, the key persons of the F1 teams, who are orchestrating the possibilities for the drivers to perform their best on track.

      2. Yes we were supporting Macca.

  5. What would be weird if Hamilton wins it is the gap between titles. There hasn’t been a gap since Schumacher in 2000, so it isn’t something we’re used to lately.

    1. The gap is larger for both Alonso and Raikkonen, so I don’t think it would be strange at all

      1. I mean any gap would be strange because we’ve just been used to consecutive titles or one-offs since 2000.

  6. I wouldn’t mind a year of Mercedes domination. They’re a damn fine team, and Rosberg and Hamilton fighting for the title should be very interesting, assuming the team doesn’t try use team orders to benefit one of them.

  7. Well, Brawn took Honda who finished 8th to win the champoinship the next year. I woudn’t call merceders to go from second to first “doing a brawn”.

    Just dominating the chmpionship is more like doing a Red Bull or a Schumacher.

  8. 18 months ago, I was one of those, who said that Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes was a good move and said that he would win the drivers’ championship with Mercedes by 2015.

    I would be happy to be proven right but there are far too many factors that might change the game, such as Rosberg, the reliability factor, Red Bull’s resources, Alonso’s (or Raikkonen’s) consistency, weather, double points and so on. So I’m refusing to predict anything and getting the popcorn instead.

    1. as far as I’m concerned the double points won’t happen, and whoever wins by the sane and regular point tally will be the wdc 2014

    2. Oh yea let me grab some popcorn too…..

  9. MERC engine isn’t built by Mercedes, nor the German Mercedes Factory, nor Mercedes Team – I read it here on F1Fanatic.
    To do a Brawn, You need to come from nothing, not even attending the winter testing, but the very last, where You show up and baffle the competition by being fastest by a margin. When the season start You dominate completely, but because of the team being very small and short of money, the competition catches up during the season. At the end You have to fight hard to win the title.
    Present Mercedes team doesn’t fulfil any of these criteria. Right now they might be favourites, but they can’t do a Brawn, no where near it.
    My guess is we will probably not see another “Brawn” for the next 50 years or more. It was absolutely magic and Button grabbed the chance completely when it suddenly was there, whereas Barrichello is still rooting over it.

    1. @palle

      Your definition of “doing a Brawn” is not the same as most people’s, I’m afraid.

  10. Just wanted to congratulate Keith on getting his F1 history right – Mercedes have poles and wins in 1954 and 1955, but no points, because the Constructors’ Championship didn’t exist yet. Well done.

  11. David not Coulthard (@)
    8th March 2014, 14:32

    @keithcollantine I would rather see Mercedes as Team Brackley (or even stretch that to the Matra Interntional years) instead of Team Silver Arrow, but I must say that’s a pretty good graph.

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