BRAWN AND BRAINS

Un­der Ross Brawn’s stew­ard­ship, a promis­ing new era dawns for For­mula One

Car (South Africa) - - COLUMN -

EGULAR read­ers of this col­umn will be fa­mil­iar with my per­vad­ing sense of ex­as­per­a­tion over the way For­mula One is run, par­tic­u­larly in re­cent years as every­one – Bernie Ec­cle­stone, the teams, the sports gov­ern­ing body (FIA) – fol­lowed their own agenda. Fear not, though; help ap­pears to be at hand.

That is the over­rid­ing im­pres­sion I had fol­low­ing a chat with Ross Brawn, re­cently ap­pointed man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of F1 for the sport’s new own­ers, Lib­erty Me­dia Cor­po­ra­tion. Brawn will be one of three peo­ple re­plac­ing Bernie Ec­cle­stone, a fact that re­veals a great deal about the for­mer dic­ta­tor’s re­stric­tive meth­ods. But the key el­e­ment of Brawn’s im­por­tant role is that he is a fully quali ed poacher turned game­keeper.

Brawn has seen F1 from ev­ery an­gle, start­ing with his days as a me­chanic/ truck driver/tyre man/tea-maker for Frank Wil­liams in the early 1970s; through cham­pi­onships with Michael Schu­macher at Benet­ton and Fer­rari; on to run­ning his own ti­tle-winning team; be­fore help­ing es­tab­lish Mercedes F1 in its cur­rent com­pet­i­tive state. And, nally, tak­ing three years out to watch F1 from a dis­tance.

The lat­ter is the key from your point of view. Ross, ever a rac­ing fan, has been sit­ting on his sofa, try­ing to es­tab­lish what’s go­ing on … and not be­ing par­tic­u­larly im­pressed. It’s okay, he says, if there’s a lap­top handy and loads of in­for­ma­tion. And he agrees that as­pect of F1 ap­peals to fol­low­ers deeply

Rem­bed­ded in the tech­ni­cal minu­tiae that drives the rac­ing in ev­ery sense. But it was ap­par­ent to him that the ca­sual viewer could not af­ford to put the ket­tle on or visit the toi­let for fear of los­ing the race’s plot line; as­sum­ing they had it in the rst place. Brawn seems in­tent on bring­ing old-school val­ues to a sport that has dis­ap­peared up its own com­mer­cial ex­haust pipe and lost sight of its pri­mary pur­pose: entertainment.

Brawn’s be­lief runs con­trary to the the­ory that F1 should largely be a forc­ing house for the mo­tor in­dus­try. The cur­rent en­ergy-re­gen­er­at­ing power units, tech­ni­cally bril­liant though they are, bring huge ex­pense to a sport that needs to trim costs and even­tu­ally feed that re­duc­tion back to the pay­ing spec­ta­tor.

“If F1 has to align it­self with road cars, then log­i­cally we end up with an elec­tric car that drives it­self, and no­body wants that in F1,” says Brawn.

These are just some of the points Brawn has on his list of matters for dis­cus­sion. Driv­ing his agenda is a need to see F1 cars race wheel to wheel with­out the aid of DRS.

“I’m not a fan of DRS,” says Ross, and hope­fully that in­cludes the ex­ces­sive use of blue ags in­hibit­ing mid- eld run­ners and back­mark­ers from go­ing rac­ing for fear of hav­ing their wrists slapped.

Max Ver­stap­pen fans will also be pleased to learn that Brawn sup­ports the teenager’s in­sou­ciance and is not in a rush to crit­i­cise. Ac­cord­ing to Brawn, in 2016 Ver­stap­pen was “a great breath of fresh air for F1. He was very

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