5 Ways Ross Brawn Changed Formula 1
The news that Ross Brawn has ruled out a return to Formula One in the near future means that the sport will be the poorer for his absence.
As revealed by the Daily Telegraph's Daniel Johnson, Brawn announced at a fishing event in Aberdeenshire that he would not be returning to the sport amidst rumours that he could be in line for a role at McLaren with the return of Ron Dennis to Group CEO.
But Brawn’s decision means that rival teams can breathe a sigh of relief as one of the sport’s master tacticians enjoys some more time off.
Here are five reasons why Ross Brawn changed the way teams now approach the sport.
He Turned Race Strategy into the Most Important Factor
Having started his F1 apprenticeship as a mechanic at Williams, Brawn knows the nuts and bolts of the workings of a Formula One car as well as anybody around.
His reputation as a master strategist was created at Benetton, where he helped Michael Schumacher win back-to-back titles before going on to dominate the sport in partnership with the same driver at Ferrari in the early 2000s.
Brawn has always been the tactical brain of every team he has worked with. He makes the calls on tyre strategy, when to bring his drivers in and when to react to what another team is doing.
One such example was during the 2004 French Grand Prix when Schumacher found himself stuck behind Fernando Alonso’s Renault. Worried they would not be able to pass if they remained on the same strategy, Brawn and engineer Luca Baldisserri decided to switch to a four-stop strategy and fuel Schumacher lighter on his second stop, and his extra pace made the difference.
He Helped Make Michael Schumacher a Legend of the Sport
When you think of Ferrari’s incredible run of success in the early 2000s, you don’t only think of Michael Schumacher, but of Ross Brawn and Jean Todt as well.
Brawn, Todt and Schumacher made a formidable team, and it is certainly debatable whether the German would have achieved the levels of success that he did without their help.
He Made Designers Think Outside the Box
Many keen observers of the sport of F1 put Adrian Newey atop of the pedestal as far as exploiting clever loopholes within technical regulations are concerned.
But it was Ross Brawn who set the ball rolling in 2009 with his clever use of the double diffuser system.
Despite the regulations stating the height of the diffuser must be limited to 177mm above the floor of the car with no bodywork above it, Brawn incorporated their diffuser design into the crash structure to allow air to flow through it and thus create greater downforce and grip.
In his column for The Telegraph, Tom Cary hailed Brawn as not only a master tactician but a design genius:
Any team would miss someone of the calibre of Brawn, a man who has a winning habit so long he should be called Mother Superior. A team principal who, unlike many today, has a strong engineering background. Who understands not only where to find the loopholes but has the rare ability to then put forward the case as to why a double diffuser, say, should be declared legal. A brilliant strategist with an uncanny ability to read a race and react to what is happening on track.
He Turned Winning into a Habit
Ross Brawn’s incredible record speaks for itself. He has no fewer than 16 titles to his name during his spells with teams including Benetton, Ferrari and his own Brawn GP.
In all sports, success tends to breed success, and once any team or athlete gets on a roll, they are very difficult to beat.
Brawn helped install a winning mentality into Ferrari after a period of 21 long years in the wilderness. Is it a coincidence that since Brawn left Ferrari at the end of 2006, the Scuderia has only one more title to its credit?
He Earned the Respect of the Drivers
When Ross Brawn talks, people invariably listen. No finer example of this occurred during last year’s controversial Malaysian Grand Prix.
The race will be remembered for Sebastian Vettel’s flagrant disobedience of team orders when he ignored the instruction to sit behind Mark Webber until the chequered flag to instead battle for the lead and take the race win.
Behind the Red Bull drivers, Lewis Hamilton appeared to be holding up the faster Nico Rosberg, but rather than risk a collision, Brawn gave Rosberg the order to maintain station behind Hamilton.
Although he didn’t like it, Rosberg listened to the instruction of his team boss and put the team first.