Ross Brawn: man of 2009

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We look back on a remarkable season of Grand Prix racing in this issue. Take a moment to think about how much has changed in the past 12 months: Formula 1 continues to fascinate and infuriate in equal measure. But the standout story of the season – above ‘crash-gate’, ‘lie-gate’ and, er, ‘FOTA versus FIA-gate’ – is the supreme achievement of Jenson Button and Brawn GP, World Champions both.

To end one year and begin another on a high note, we bring you Nigel Roebuck’s brilliant interview with Ross Brawn, who surely now ranks alongside Colin Chapman as Grand Prix racing’s greatest team owner/engineer. As our cover declares, he deserves the status of legend.

As we wave goodbye to 2009 we look ahead to the new year, including an exciting new event in February, the Motor Sport Hall of Fame (see more next month). Meanwhile, F1 is set to feature new teams and a new race in, of all places, South Korea. But the new season will begin without Toyota, pitstop refuelling – and Max Mosley.

New FIA president Jean Todt is facing his first F1 crisis: which company will be supplying tyres to the teams in 2011? After 13 years of great service, Bridgestone has announced its withdrawal, which is a much bigger blow to the sport than the loss of Toyota (see page 11). It’s been a low-key start to Todt’s first term in office – he hasn’t spoken publicly yet – but let’s judge him by his actions once he’s settled in at the Place de la Concorde.

As I write, we await news on the future of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone is forging ahead with or without F1 (see page 12), while Donington Park is left resembling a scene from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. We tried to contact the circuit to find out what happens next, but Simon Gillett and his team have gone to ground. We understand the Wheatcroft family, which owns Donington, is back in charge of its operation and that work to make the circuit fit for racing will soon be under way (see more in Historic News on page 113). The British Touring Car Championship has listed a date for September on its 2010 schedule and is confident that Donington will be race-ready, at least by then.

Gillett has led British motor sport on a merry dance with his plans for redevelopment. The damage he has caused goes way beyond the corporate vandalism of a much-loved circuit. He should be banned from any further involvement in motor sport.

How sad that we should lose Tom Wheatcroft during this dark chapter in Donington’s history. Doug Nye’s moving and very funny tribute to a great man adds weight to what we already know – that Donington Park must not be lost to motor sport for a second time.

Satire and motor racing rarely meet. But in a New York studio in 1957, the late, great Peter Ustinov brought the two together brilliantly, with his improvised account of a fictional motor race, The Grand Prix of Gibraltar. As a Christmas treat, we present free with this issue the original recording on CD.

Many Motor Sport readers will be familiar with the work which was originally released on vinyl, but if you’re not turn to Nigel Roebuck’s Reflections on page 14 to find out more. Nigel interviewed Ustinov back in 2002 to reminisce about what has become a cult comedy classic. From everyone at Motor Sport, happy listening.

Damien Smith, Editor