The master tactician of Ferrari’s success is charged with hoisting Honda towards the front of the Formula 1 grid
Honda has pulled off a coup by hiring Ross Brawn as team principal. The former Ferrari technical director started work at the team’s Brackley factory on November 26.
Despite the upgrade in job title he will have a similar brief to the one he had at Maranello, since the previous principal Nick Fry will focus on business and commercial matters, leaving Brawn to oversee all aspects of designing, building and running the cars. By headhunting Brawn and moving sideways, Fry (inset, with Brawn on left) has secured his own future with the Japanese outfit, following a disastrous 2007 season.
The news, announced the day after Jenson Button had expressed his reservations about the team in an interview in a Sunday paper, has transformed the team’s prospects. In recent months Fry has also hired several key technical personnel from Williams, BMW and McLaren as part of a major revamp. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen of the team so far,” said Brawn, who admitted that a major chunk of his salary is related to performance. “But it will take me a few months to really understand the team properly. What I like is the desire everyone here has to compete.”
Brawn had been on what he termed a ‘sabbatical’ for 12 months after leaving Ferrari, which retained first call on his services. He wanted to return to Italy as team principal, but Ferrari chose a different path. Buoyed by the fact that the team won both World Championships without the assistance of Brawn or Michael Schumacher, Luca di Montezemolo preferred to promote sporting director Stefano Domenicali to the role of team principal and, as of January 1, Jean Todt will focus on the road car business. This left Brawn free to pursue other offers. He had made no secret of his desire to spend more time in the UK.