Thursday, October 17, 2019
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Mercedes benefiting from the brains of Brawn

The legacy of genius, even in the absence of its founder, has rocketed Mercedes as high-flying favourites to romp away with this season’s grand prix world title crown.

Ross Brawn may have moved on having swapped the frenzy of Formula One for the placid alternative of his second love, fishing the world’s rivers and seaways, contentedly cushioned on a personal fortune of around £150 million (Dh550 million), but the gift of his greatness as an engineer is the Mercedes inheritance.

Despite the turmoil behind the scenes last season, when incoming personalities cast controversial doubts over his future and the likes of former champion and now Mercedes leader Nikki Lauda and his cohort Toto Wolff failed to convince him his status was ensured, Brawn gave the job his all.

The result of his selfless effort has been finely evidenced by the results registered in convincing style by drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the runaway twosome in Malaysia last Sunday and currently title pacemakers par excellence.

The unstoppable and faultless pair gave Mercedes their first one-two in 55 years in cars engineered and shaped for success by the outgoing Brawn who, right until his very last day with the Germam legends, gave it his all in the urgent pursuit of toppling long-running masters Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, the champion for four successive seasons.

He reveals: “We ran out of steam at the end of last year in terms of ideas and capacity. We had to start planning the new car, so we increased the budget, we persuaded our board that we needed to be more committed. And once we had woken up to the idea, we put in the resources we needed to have a chance of competing.”

The situation of his imminent exit might have been irksome to a man so imbued with ambition and proven as a winner as shown by his masterminding of hero Michael Schumacher’s world championships at Ferrari, but it didn’t stop him ensuring Mercedes had the advantage in a new season of technical turnover.

Even Paddy Lowe, the incomer from McLaren, who assumed Brawn’s engineering responsibilities, was moved to praise his predecessor unstintingly for his work after the historic Mercedes finish in Malaysia.

Hamilton, too, who won by the impressive margin of 17 seconds, hailed Brawn’s expertise. And all of it will only have served to enhance the Manchester man’s reputation and attraction for the likes of Ron Dennis, the chief at McLaren, who is, I am told, anxious to persuade him to comeback.

After two decades in the top flight of F1, the pocketing of around £120m from the sale of his Brawn GP team to Mercedes in 2009, and a wage of some £8m a year ever since, he has no overwhelming desire to get stuck back in to the back room melee.

“I have no intention of returning to Formula One,” is the 59-year-old’s regular mantra at the non-stop flood of questions about his future. “I just love my fishing and relaxing without worry,” he adds.

He will have to hesitate a only split second on that answer to the regular question of a comeback and the jostling among teams, headed by McLaren, for his services will be frantic. All anxious, ready, willing and able to make his wallet even bulkier.