Ross Brawn’s appointment as F1’s new managing director for motor sports has been warmly received. But what plans does he have for grand prix racing?
Four years have passed since Brawn bowed out of the sport as Mercedes’ team principal. Prior to that he won world championships with Williams, Benetton, Ferrari and finally his own team Brawn GP, formed following Honda’s hasty departure from F1 at the end of 2008.
Like Ecclestone before him, one of Brawn’s strengths is he knows the rule book because he’s spent so long testing it to the limit. From ‘option 13′ at Benetton to Mercedes’ secret tyre test two decades later it often seemed Brawn had an answer for anything the FIA could throw at one of his teams.
But Brawn differs sharply from Ecclestone on crucial areas. In particular, Brawn is keen for Formula One’s under-capacity grids to become a thing of the past.
“What I think Formula One always has to achieve is to be accessible to the largest number of teams as possible,” said Brawn in his book Total Competition, published last year. “That’s what I feel is a big challenge and where Formula One fails.”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had 13 strong teams, with the franchise of a Formula One team being extremely valuable, and a queue of people who want to come into the sport because they can be profitable and successful?”
Brawn also suggested the current engine regulations need revising in order to give teams access to less expensive customer engines. He criticised the process which led to the current V6 hybrid turbo formula for not including any constraint on costs.
“If you were doing it again you would make sure that process was more robust,” he said.
“You would start with the objectives of that new engine, including cost and supply – it has to be viable for an independent engine-maker (like Cosworth) to be a supplier – and make sure the process was robust enough to achieve those objectives.”
Ecclestone “one of the worst” at planning
Formula One has habitually introduced new regulations at short notice only to drop them again: such as the one-off double points finale and last year’s elimination qualifying plan, which lasted just two races. He gives short shrift to radical ideas such as rotating drivers between teams – an old favourite idea of former FIA president Max Mosley.
Instead Brawn wants F1 to adopt a more considered, long-term approach to rule making. “It’s frustrating that even pretty senior individuals in Formula One will not have a long-term vision and plan,” he said. “And Bernie’s one of the worst.”
“If I was treating Formula One like an engineering project, I would say, ‘we’ve got to improve the product over the next three years’. You would do your analysis, make your plan and implement it,” he added.
“Getting any form of agreement in Formula One to carry out a proper process is almost impossible. I think the players don’t want it and clearly Bernie doesn’t. So, fixing the regulatory and rule-changing process and achieving a fair and economic supply position would be my priority.”
Brawn’s ideas may chime in with what a lot of fans want to see. But it’s also clear they may have to wait a few years before they are realised.
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year