Ross Brawn: Round Up the Usual Suspects

This time last year we were heading to the first race in Australia with the knowledge that the revamped Brawn team had been quick in testing. However, there was still some doubt over the double diffuser, so we weren’t quite sure where things stood.

Even allowing for that controversial performance boost it seemed hard to believe that a team that had struggled so much in 2008 could emerge from a turbulent winter with a new engine partner and still be a clear pacesetter.

Twelve months on, much has changed. Jenson Button is at McLaren, and Brawn GP has become Mercedes GP. And despite adding works backing and the talents of Michael Schumacher, life is going to be a lot harder. Ross Brawn expects to see no surprises this year, with McLaren, Ferrari and RBR at the sharp end of the grid.

“Last year McLaren and Ferrari did a pretty average job at the beginning of the year, and that created an unusual situation,” Ross told this blog. “They recognised particularly Ferrari, that they were off the pace, and in the end sacrificed the year to get back into shape for this year, which was probably the right decision. So it was an unusual year in that respect, so I don’t think we’re going to see that this year.

“I think in 2010 you’ll have the usual candidates at the front, and Renault and Williams and one or two others will be right there. I think Williams with the Cosworth engine will be very interesting. Renault has undergone a fairly major restructuring, and we’ll see what affect that has. The Sauber looks like quite a good car. I think they did the same as Ferrari, I think they recognised their failing, and knuckled down and devoted all their efforts to the new car.”

Ross is of course the king of strategy, even if these days he keeps more of an overview. Ross is adamant that this year strategy is all about being ‘reactive,’ in that you’ll always be responding to what others are doing.

“In previous years you had X amount of fuel in the car, and you wanted to run to that point and pit, and that determined your first pit stop. The reactivity of your decision making was how long to the second pit stop, where were you going to judge that gap.

“Now it’s completely open when you make your stop, be it one or two, and how soon you make it. If you make it early you can gain an advantage because you’re back out on new tyres, but if those new tyres are shot by the end of the race, you can become exposed. It’s going to be very interesting, but it’s going to be a much more reactive process on the pit wall than past years.

“I think there will be a lot of one-stop races this year, particularly if you’re starting on the soft tyre. If the hard tyre is durable then all the race will really take place in the first 10-15 laps, then right at the end if people run into problems with fuel consumption or tyre wear or brake wear.

“So I think there will be two windows of racing, in the early part when everyone is jockeying for position, and the end of the race where someone might start to struggle with their tyres or their car.”

Messrs Schumacher and Rosberg can’t ask for a better guy on the pit wall. Will Ross’s presence really make a difference?

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Ross Brawn: Round Up the Usual Suspects

  1. dans

    “So I think there will be two windows of racing, in the early part when everyone is jockeying for position, and the end of the race where someone might start to struggle with their tyres or their car.”

    Sounds good to me.

  2. elephino

    Tyre strategy will be interesting as previously it was usually better to pit later than your rival and now it will be the other way around. Still some leeway where longer runs are better.

    Might see a few more people doing a double-stop under safety car to get an unfavourable tyre out the way.

    • Proesterchen

      I don’t see how a longer stint could be better. Newer tires are always faster than older ones, and this year there’s no difference in weight to mitigate that advantage. So ideally, you end up with a situation where you pit before the guy in front of you, take fresh tires, and outrun him for as long as he allows you to, to ultimately end up in front of him after he pits.

      But the guy in front of you knows what your trying, and as a result, will try to pit the same lap as you, or at most one lap later, to minimize the gain you reap from the fresher tires. You, too, will keep an eye (or 1 1/2) on the strategy of the guy behind you.

      Ross Brawn is right. This year, strategy will largely be reactive.

      The only offensive measure would be to stop as early as you can to force the car in front of you to follow suit, hoping that it will end up with shot tires in the closing stages of the race.

  3. F1 Kitteh

    I guess it might be interesting to have some mid/back of the grid guys stopping right on the first couple laps, put on some hard tyres and then go on to have clean air rather than being stuck in traffic..

  4. What an excellent piece of analysis from Brawn. Really helps me to understand the tactics of the coming season.

  5. John

    Interesting, I have felt from my armchair that the racing would be limited to the starts and how well the drivers keep the tires under check while they try to fight for the spots (some drivers could be in trouble if the heat cycle them hard early on).

    The middle of the race will probably be rather boring, maybe more so this year compared to past years. The end I am not sure, I think in the middle teams will get the fuel rate under control, better to score points then run out of fuel at the end. So maybe the teams that have left at the end to spare will be able to jockey for a few spots, depending on how spread out the grid is.

    We could see a grid that is really spread out, if the drivers make dumb moves at the start. Sure they are all consistent now, but racing conditions are always different, and getting a flat spot in the first turn is going to hurt you.

    That is another area I think will be interesting, the starts. I look to the new teams to hit the first corner with a bit more speed than they would like, and look for lots of tire smoke. Well look for lots of tire smoke from the whole grid, what only a few of these guys have raced under conditions like this?

    I do think Massa will have a slight advantage, Ferrari sent him out heavy for many races. Nick as well if he were racing, and maybe Kubica. Alonso did some heavy fuel running last year as well though.

    A few more days, and we get to see how it all works. I hope it is not boring, the lead up to the season has been far from it.

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