I’m delighted that Brawn GP has emerged from the rubble of the Honda GP team. It is a bold move by Ross and knowing him, he would not have done it if he did not think he could be successful. Everything he does he does well. The money must be solid because Mercedes would not have done the engine supply deal if it wasn’t. The money is coming from Honda, is my understanding.
It’s an enormous challenge, but the rewards are potentially enormous for him too. After all he’s now 100% shareholder in a business with guaranteed income of at least £45 million per year (from TV) and on which Honda spent £70 million in capital expenditure on hardware in recent years. If he keeps the team alive over the next few years and then, who knows, Honda comes back again, maybe as an engine supplier only, or if someone wealthy like a Mallya or Abramovitch type wants to buy in, Ross will have a very valuable asset, which will make him very seriously rich.
This way the thing stays nice and open. It buys Honda some time while the automobile industry is in crisis. Honda will always build cars and Honda will always have racing in its corporate DNA and if F1 becomes cheaper and financially sustainable as FOTA and the FIA intend, then it will represent a sensational return on investment in a few years time.
Ross said in the last few weeks that “My job is to save jobs” and although they will trim down the 700 workforce at Brackley, many of the jobs will be saved by this move. We do not yet know whether there are any sponsors in the sidelines, but we do know that this deal would not have happened without FOTA teams supporting Ross and the new deal for independents of three years engine and gearbox supply for under £5 million per season.
There is no truth in the rumours that Mike Gascoyne is the new technical director.
As for Mercedes they are supplying the engine to the team and Brawn’s engineers have had a Mercedes engine at Brackley since the end of January, to do the installation work. This means that they will have had less than two months to adapt their 2009 design to the Mercedes engine, which is very tight. Lack of time to work on engine installation often leads to reliability problems, as Williams found when it switched from BMW to Cosworth a few years ago.
Ross will have seen this coming and will have put a working group in place to make that transition as smooth as possible. He is a consummate organiser and a genius at knowing where to put human and technical resources and when.
My understanding is that Brawn GP is getting the engine only, not the whole gearbox and hydraulic system from Mercedes/McLaren as Force India has. The FI deal is a very special one and this is not the same.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will drive cars 18 and 19 in this year’s championship. Barrichello will extend his record as the most experienced driver ever and it’s no surprise that Brawn chose him over Senna as he is a brilliant technical driver and he will help them far more than Senna would have done to get the car sorted quickly. Senna would have faced a mountain learning F1 with no testing time.
It indicates that the finances must be solid because Senna brought around $10 million with him in sponsorship. Button has his severance pay from Honda so he will not be too out of pocket, whereas I imagine Rubens is on a lowish retainer, but he’s just happy to still be in F1.
The team are not making Ross or the drivers available, but a Q& A with him will appear on the team’s new website at 2pm GMT today. You can keep up with the latest news and see pictures of the new car, maybe even later today, on their new website http://www.brawngp.com/