Brawn was unaware Ferrari had veto on F1’s rules

2016 F1 season

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Ross Brawn has revealed Ferrari’s veto power over F1 rules changes was such a closely-guarded secret that he was unaware of it during most of his time at the team.

Ferrari has had the option to veto changes to the Formula One rules since the 1980s. However the existence of the veto only became public knowledge in 2009 and Brawn has now revealed he was unaware of it as late as 2005, eight years after he joined the team.

Ferrari’s dissatisfaction with F1’s rules had consequences
In a new book written by former Williams CEO Adam Parr, Brawn said he did not know about the veto when Ferrari was seeking to oppose a new rule for 2005 which banned drivers from changing tyres during a race. He believes the rule was introduced to disrupt Ferrari’s domination of the sport with tyre supplier Bridgestone in the early 2000s.

“I didn’t know that we had a veto then,” Brawn confirmed. He doubts Jean Todt, Ferrari’s general director at the time and now FIA president, would have done so. “We didn’t use it and I don’t think Jean would have ever used it, because we knew it was wrong.”

Brawn admitted he learned about the existence of the veto “later in my Ferrari career”, which ended in 2007.

He also revealed the team’s unhappiness over the introduction of new tyre rules for 2005 influenced their behaviour during that year’s United States Grand Prix. Only six cars started that race – all the Bridgestone-equipped teams including Ferrari – after the Michelin-shod runners found their tyres were failing on turn 13.

Ferrari refused to accept compromises which would have allowed their rivals to race. “We were in a position where we were feeling very aggrieved because of what had gone on with the tyre rules, feeling persecuted,” said Brawn. “So our mindset was not to have much sympathy when the perpetrators of the one-race tyre had a problem.”

Parr and Brawn’s book “Total Competition” will be published by Simon and Schuster on November 3rd.

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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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26 comments on “Brawn was unaware Ferrari had veto on F1’s rules”

  1. My understanding of why only the Bridgsestone runners could race was because the Indy circuit had been diamond cut with grooves to offer better safety for the Indy500. Firestone (the American branch of Bridgestone) who owned the track gave the data to Bridgestone to state how a tyre should be built to cope with the turns and this was also provided to Michelin. Michelin ignored this as they sort to bring a racer tyre in the ongoing tyre war and thought that Firestone had been over cautious in the data it had provided. But hindsight is a wonderful tool and its nice to see a different angle on it.

    1. I remember seeing a photo showing a comparison between the Bridgestone and Michelin tyre through the turn 13 banking. The integrity of the Bridgestone was solid but on the Michelin, you could see the sidewall of the tyre significantly distorting. I’ve been struggling to find this photo since.

    2. Firestone does not own the track, it remains in the hands of the Hulman family to this day. However @Ed is correct, the track was re-paved earlier that year and even the IndyCar teams were having tire problems during pre-Indy 500 tests which went in the other direction. Firestone could had passed tire data to Bridgestone but it would be useless because the differences between the two classes and race formats at Indy. As for Brawn not knowing about the secret veto, I’m not surprised if Jean Todt and Luca kept it to themselves.

    3. You are right about the part where Bridgestone got tipped off on the issues with the track by sister brand Firestone @ed. As @photogcw writes, they had ran into the same sort of issue while preparing for the Indy 500, so they knew that they had to prepare their tyres for that.

      Off course it would have been sportsmanlike to also inform the FIA (and Michelin) of that issue at the time. But given the tough tyre war that was ongoing, and the circumstances around the rule changes towards the full race tyres, I guess that was too much to ask of either Bridgestone or Ferrari.

      1. @bascb @photogcw @ed I didn’t know all that!

    4. There were talks about putting a chicane at the problematic corner ahead of the race, but Ferrari prefferred “not to have much sympathy” instead.

      1. And rightly so. You don’t change the track to better suit one tyre manufacturer over another if there is an alternative, which there was. (Michelin’s teams could simply have gone down the pit lane, skipping the banked corner entirely. Yes, they’d have looked ridiculous, but that’s no reason to handicap their rivals to hide Michelin’s mistake.)

        Here’s an analogy to make that point: Say Honda updated their engine, and instead of getting better they made a mistake, and their cars suddenly had a top speed 50mph slower than everyone else — go any faster and their engine blows up instantly. Would it be fair to insist that a chicane be added midway down every long straight, so that Honda didn’t have to overstress its engines and watch them explode, and equally didn’t have to be publicly humiliated? Of course not!

        Well, this is no different. The track design should be fixed from the start of the race weekend at every event, with the sole exception of safety issues which cannot be avoided in any other way. Michelin had an easy way to avoid the issue, they just refused to consider it because they knew they would be a laughing stock.

        They tried to put their own self-interest ahead of the sport, and thankfully it backfired on them, giving them a much worse PR event than if they’d just done the right thing and not expected rivals to be kneecapped to help them.

        1. I agree Ferrari were in the right to do what they did, but on the other hand I wasn’t watching F1 back then. If I had bought tickets for the race, my opinion would probably have been different…

          The whole incident could have been managed better by all parties involved (Ferrari, Michelin and it’s teams and the FIA) because in the end, it was the fans who were ripped off.

          1. I was there at that race. It is still a very sore memory for American F1 fans for which F1 never really recovered to this day even with the present USGP at COTA.

          2. I was there as well. Ferrari made a name for itself with American fans that weekend – a bad name. No one team should have veto power – that translates to an unfair advantage does it not? The proposed track change didn’t prefer one tire or the other. It made is safe for all the cars to race.

  2. Sorry Ross, Everyone watching the sport suspected it was the case. And you had no idea your team had Veto power?
    And Jean ,now in charge of the sport didn’t use it didn’t like it ? Is it April 1st?

    1. I don’t understand what he would gain from lying about that. His story makes perfect sense.

    2. You sorta sound like you know what you’re talking about…. Sorta.

      Can you tell me how many times Ferrari have used the veto? This information is public knowledge.

      1. Some of it is public knowledge (and it has been openly used on multiple occasions – the earliest I know of being cost-cutting proposals that would have been introduced for 2005, to which Ferrari objected at the 2004 Brazillian Grand Prix). Before that, Max Mosley cited Ferrari notably not using the veto to prevent the irregularly-formed mass regulation change/interpretation of 2003 in F1 Magazine.

        Some of Ferrari’s veto use is not public knowledge, as not every vote’s pattern is public knowledge and it is known that some other team bosses (including Eddie Jordan) voted with that knowledge in mind but without declaring it until after they left that environment. So sometimes the veto was having an effect without anyone at Ferrari needing to say a word about it. In a psuedopolitical environment like the regulatory element of F1, passive use of power is as important as active use.

        I would say that even early 2003 is well over halfway through Ross Brawn’s stint at Ferrari, so from an English grammatical standpoint, he would be correct if he learned of the veto on or around when Max Mosley confirmed its existence.

    3. Brawn probably also didn’t know about “menu 13” on the Benetton…

      1. Option 13. Do you even know what it was? Most in the media still mistake what it was…

        1. Jonathan, not to mention that most in the media also conveniently ignore the fact that a lot of teams had exactly the same software systems on their cars.

          For example, Ron Dennis admitted to the press that the 1994 McLaren still had software for not just traction control, but also active ride height and anti-lock braking, having chosen just to “disarm” the systems – the reason he gave was that rewriting all of the software programmes they used at the time caused more issues than just deactivating that software.

    4. Ferrari having this veto power is like having a country having nuclear capability – they want to have the ability to threaten, but dont actually want to use the weapon they have.

      Forcing the FIA to change a rule by enforcing the veto is probably something they never wanted to do, and was probably a huge deal for them – even if they didnt like some of the rule changes that were happening.

  3. Ironic isn’t it, that they wanted to ban tyre changes. Yet here we are, I’m sure some would love that rule now

  4. Bring back tire wars and you bring back pushing to the limit. This Pirelli show is a bore really, bad publicity and I don’t know why a company would ever agree to make tires that prematurely degrade. That’s like asking Nike to make shoes that fall apart after 100 steps of walking.

    1. So you want to watch a race where Mercedes can push thier tires for the entire race?

      What about Mercedes finishing 5 minutes ahead of everyone is interesting to you?

      1. Does it really matter if they finish with a 20 second while managing their tyres or with a 5 minute lead if they can push?

        Faster cars are more exciting to watch, so if you don’t plan on having any fight for the lead anyway, why don’t let them push?

      2. There is a fuel limit in the series now. If Mercedes push anything more, they would probably be 5 minutes ahead but run out of fuel half way, maybe.

        Mercedes have an advantage but let’s not overplay it.

    2. The problem Pirelli have is that because F1 has all but banned testing it means that the tyre manufacturer is always a step behind the teams. The FIA wanted to control costs so out went the testing teams of Ferrari and MacLaren and all other teams that could afford one. Then the FIA demanded a tyre that degraded, thats not an issue but when teams are pushing the envelope of what is possible in the current set of regulations whoever the tyre supplier is will struggle. Michelin don’t see the lack of testing as an issue cos if F1 goes to an 18″ wheel the data from WEC will transfer over to F1 with minimal cost. We need to wait and see what Pirelli’s philosophy is on its new tryes that are not made to degrade. We saw that in the Bridgestone/Michelin war, the Bridgestone inter was miles ahead of what Michelin could build, but the dry trye of Michelin had a better operating window than Bridgestone (and yes i know that since Ferrari were the only top team with Bridgestone, they had their own bespoke trye).

      What im trying to say is if you want costs kept down then it has knock on effects, if you want the tyres to get better we need testing but the teams (like Ferrari, RB, Merc) will use it to develop a testing team to make the jumps needed in development. It was this reason that De la Rosa was the most well paid test driver in the paddock when MacLaren dolled out million a year just for him to test.

  5. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    18th October 2016, 23:15

    Wouldn’t say no to a Ross Brawn return to F1. McLaren need someone like him. Brawn deserves the majority of the credit for Merc’s current domination.

  6. Ha ha! yeah right! The man heading up the team that created the most cynically won world championships the sport has ever seen.

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