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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Q&A with Ross Brawn by Welt.de

The following interview has been taken from http://www.welt.de/sport/formel1/article3504076/Ferraris-Aufregung-betrachte-ich-als-Kompliment.html and translated by AFCA over on the Autosport forum.

Q: How would you describe the past few months when the team was fighting to survive ?
Brawn: ''It was dramatic. The entire company basically fell in a deep dark hole in December last year. The only thing that still mattered was to survive. I knew that in Formula 1 there can be a whole lot of mixed emotions. You can win in great style but you can also dramatically lose: you can make a fool of yourself and you can come out on top as the big winner. But what I've gone through in the past few months I wasn't yet familiar with. It has outdone everything I previously experienced, it was a roller coaster ride.''

Q: What was the problem ? What would have been the consequences if you had not solved it ?
Brawn: ''The entire factory with all its 700 employees would have had to be closed down in case hadn't found a solution with Honda. Unfortunately with the new set-up of the team we soon have to dismiss almost 250 people, but the rest can keep their job.''

Q: What would have been your alternative ?
Brawn: ''Perhaps I would have gone back fishing and would have simply looked after my garden again. I didn't have a plan (B) should it have been necessary, the only plan I had was to save the team. The chance in doing so, even with the help of Honda was only 50:50.''

Q: Apart from Honda weren't the alleged investors not good enough ?
Brawn: ''I'd say that in this period we've had some experiences with certain investors and characters that I hadn't had before in this form. In any case, at least by that time it became clear to me in what kind of dangerous world I actually live. Therefore I was relieved that we found a sound solution with Honda at the end of January, beginning of February. At the end of February the case was sanctioned by Honda's board of directors, only then we knew that we'd be at the start in Australia.''

Q: Where did you get the idea for the name of the team ?
Brawn: ''At the start we thought about several different names, but they were all too artificial, smelt too much of marketing, were too abstract and didn't have any reference to Formula 1. We even involved our new partner Mercedes and after a long time of thinking someone came up with the idea to name the team after me.''

Q: Why ?
Brawn: ''Because it's a familiar name in Formula 1 and one knows what's behind it. To be more straight forward: it was never been my intention to have the team being named after me. But the proposal was on the table and everyone welcomed it, now I'm even a little proud that it's like this.''

Q: There's still a lot of trouble. Your former employer Ferrari protest against your allegedly illegal aerodynamics. Renault, BMW Sauber and Red Bull are annoyed that your car, including its diffuser, is working so well...
Brawn: ''I especially consider the commotion at Ferrari as a compliment. If my former employer wouldn't accept me as a real rival then they wouldn't protest against us. They wouldn't be interested in us at all. But the fact that our car is in front of theirs and the fact that we're a challenge to them valorises us. That's pleasing and even good for us.''

Q: With due respect: how is it possible that a team that was faced with ruin, in the end survives as a private team clearly beating a big organisation like Ferrari, in fact downright annihilating them ?
Brawn: ''As a matter of principle Ferrari shouldn't be underestimated - but neither should we. Fact is: Ferrari - having being involved in the title fight with McLaren in the past two years - didn't have as much time to intensively get to grips with the new regulations and to start working on the new car as early as we did. Therefore we were and are in front in all areas.''

Q: How is it possible that a part of the car that's been okayed by the FIA has all of a sudden become illegal ? On the 14th of April the Court of Appeal will come up with a definitive verdict.
Brawn: ''It's a matter of interpretation. Especially since we're dealing with very radical changes in the technical regulations, which is something that always goes hand in hand with different interpretations and concepts in a development process. In this respect I think this whole discussion is normal and as far as the outcome is concerned I'm more than calm. Our aerodynamics are in compliance with the regulations. It's just that, apperantly, we've better dealt with the whole problem that the new regulations posed the teams with. It's not the way to make friends in Formula 1.''

Q: Apperantly you're not just in breach of the written regulations, but also of the interpretation or a form of agreement that regard the new regulations (I think the grey area is meant here - AFCA).
Brawn: ''I'm not aware of any agreement. I'm only familiar with the written regulations and accordingly, I consistently comply with the principle that says you have to try and build the fastest and best Formula 1 car. If I've understood (the principle behind) Grand Prix sport correctly, this is the generally accepted and binding formula for competiton.''

Q: What consequences would it have for you if the Court of Appeal deems your diffuser to be in breach of the regulations ?
Brawn: ''We would lose a part of our competitiveness and it would take time to come back to the current level of performance.''

Q: Apart from the controversial aerodynamics and the diffuser problem, what are the strong points of the BGP001 ?
Brawn: ''Contrary to our competitors we basically had 15 months to develop this car. That was possible because Honda wasn't involved in the 2008 title fight. We had the time to look after the aerodynamic concept intensively, primarily working with two windtunnels. Only after that we had to deal with the rest of the car: the chassis design, the gearbox, the overall mechanical side that is. In this way we were able to configure the basic concept of the car at a very early stage and in a very sophisticated way without friction losses. Then, unhurriedly, we built a very sophisticated and well-thought-out car around this basic concept. The design is a great piece of engineering from its suspensions to every single structure and detail. Especially its aerodynamics are outstanding and importantly, keeping the ban on testing in mind, it's further upgradable in the windtunnel. The other segments of the car can hardly be further developed with the testrestrictions that are in place since the beginning of 2009.''

Q: What will the further development of the car look like ?
Brawn: ''The installation of the engine and its integration in the chassis aren't perfect yet. We still have to make the car lighter and occupy ourselves with KERS, and we still have to make a lot more progress aerodynamically.''

Q: How long will the team be able to work without a big sponsor ?
Brawn: ''For the short term there are no problems.''

Q: Then how do you define 'short term' ?
Brawn: ''For one and a half to two years we'll be able to work withouth dramatic restrictions. We're looking for a partner that's willing to team up with us for the long term and works and operates at the same level we do. What we want is a qualitatively solid financial fundament for the future of Brawn GP and not a bridgeover solution that doesn't offer any planning reliability to any of those involved. We're not in a hurry, there's no problem, and we know that we have to be patient finding a partner that is suited to us as far as the level and quality of the product are concerned.''

Q: Surely you'll find someone, after all you're being credited with winning the title this year.
Brawn: ''I haven't thought about that a single time yet ! It would be just as incredible as it would be unrealistic.''

Q: So what will become of the life you planned as a rose-cultivator, hobby gardener, wine collector and angler ?
Brawn: ''Unfortunately I haven't gone fishing for the past eight months. I still look after my wine cellar, but unfortunately at the moment there's not much time to do any gardening.''

Q: Did you drink more red wine when times were tough ?
Brawn: ''Fortunately not.''

The diffuser situation is raised in the interview and Ross aludes to the fact that the written regulations haven't been broken and as others have said there is no such thing as the 'spirit' of the regulations. An interesting statement is that he wishes to make the car lighter and occupy themselves with KERS. I have talked briefly about KERS and BGP here before as we don't have it it sometimes seems irrelavant. However being a Mercedes customer the option will be there to also purchase the KERS package at a later point. This will obviously cost more money and whilst we are towards the front and the KERS cars are rearward it is advantages for us to sit it out and wait for the KERS package to become enticing.

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I have been an F1 fan from a very early age, however in my very early years I didn't really support a team just loved the racing. Since the BAR years I have been supporting this team through it's highs and lows. I'm confident under Ross Brawn's control the team will go from strength to strength and hopefully Jenson and Rubens can find themselves in a competitive car once more.


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