Mercedes GP Ross Brawn

Brawn: Success breeds success

Mercedes GP Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn has warned that Mercedes will be strong again in 2017 despite the raft of major rule changes that are coming into effect this season, which rivals are hoping will help level the playing field after three years of dominance by the German outfit.

In an interview with FIA magazine Auto, Brawn predicted, “Success breeds success. Mercedes will be strong [this season], despite the greater emphasis on chassis.”

“Mercedes will have been pulling resource off this year’s programme onto next year very early, once they saw where they were with the car. If I was there, and I’m sure they’ve carried on a similar philosophy, I’d be saying: Right, we’ve got a strong car, we can only beat ourselves, let’s get everyone onto next year’s programme. I don’t know how many other teams could do that.”

As for the new regulations aimed at making the new generation cars faster and more challenging to drive, Brawn commented, “I’ve not been involved in the process to generate these regulations. When you are involved you know them intimately. I’ve read this set broadly and they’re a big step in a certain direction.”

“Outwardly they should make the cars a lot quicker. They’ll look racy, with wider track, wider tyres, and the way the wings are profiled the cars are going to look pretty exciting. It will be fascinating, though, as it’s putting the emphasis back on the chassis.”

There is a view that it was too much towards the engine, but actually I think it brought some balance. We went through a phase where the influence of the engine was almost neutral because everything was frozen and they were almost just a bracket between the gearbox and the chassis, whereas now people talk about the engines.”

As for the future of Formula 1, Brawn said, “F1 has to take a hard look at what it wants from an engine. What we’ve done in the last few years is align ourselves with road cars. We’ve got this revolution going on, and the road cars we’ll have in five to 10 years’ time are going to be very different.”

“Can we maintain the technological marvel of F1 but acknowledge that perhaps now is the time to start diverging from where road cars are going?”

“If we don’t, logic says we should have electric or fuel-cell F1 cars in a few years’ time. We have Formula E and that’s establishing its place, but for me F1 isn’t just a technological demonstration, it’s a whole circus, and what’s the best way of maintaining that?”

“It might be time to say: We’ve had this technological marvel, but we’re going to step back and think about what F1 ideally wants from an engine, which may have to contain some technologies that are relevant.”

“We have to sit down with the manufacturers, teams and interested parties and decide what we want beyond 2020. Maybe it’s what we’ve got now but refined in terms of cost and complexity, because the engine is too expensive.”

“In some ways the current engine is a technological marvel and it did re-engage the manufacturers, but if F1 starts to look at 2020 now there’s time to do it without anyone feeling any competitive disadvantage, with the investments and plans being made correctly.”

“You need two years to sort an engine out. By the end of next year, Formula One needs to know what sort of engine it needs for the future,” ventured Brawn who is reportedly set to return to Formula 1 as CEO of the sport on the behest of new owners Liberty Media.