Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ross Brawn on Honda's Revival

The Formula 1 team formerly known as Honda Racing has been saved after the Japanese manufacturer agreed to pass ownership of the operation to Ross Brawn, who becomes team principal of the new Brawn GP outfit.
Brawn served as Ferrari’s technical director for a decade before moving to Honda at the start of last season.
Brawn GP agreed to a deal with Mercedes for a supply of engines in the 2009 season, which gets under way in Australia on March 29.
The deal also secures the future of British driver Jenson Button and veteran Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who saw off the challenge of compatriot Bruno Senna for the team’s second seat.
Chief executive Nick Fry admitted at a Formula One Teams Association (Fota) press conference that his team would not have survived had it not been for the association’s help.
“There has been an enormous amount of activity behind the scenes; everyone on the stage here has helped us preserve our team.

“I think myself and Ross and our 700 employees all thank them for that. So the answer is yes (the team would have died without Fota),” he said on Thursday.
The future of the Brackley-based outfit had been uncertain since early December, when Honda confirmed they were ending their involvement due to the global economic downturn.
The earlier press conference in Geneva itself was a landmark occasion. A new points-scoring system for this year, a commitment to cut costs by half and the enhancement of the sport’s presentation on television and in the media were the key themes.

But perhaps of even more significance was the palpably flourishing existence of Fota itself. After the love-in on the banks of Lake Geneva, attended by bigwigs from every Formula 1 outfit, the deeply acrimonious McLaren-Ferrari “spygate” affair of 2007 seems like it was a long time ago.

“This is an unprecedented moment in F1 history,” said Ferrari president and Fota chairman, Luca di Montezemolo. “Above all else, for the first time the teams are unified and steadfast — with a clear, collective vision.”

That vision was made manifest when Fota sounded a warning to Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s commercial rights holder, saying they may consider “alternative” competitions after 2012 if he did not agree to share more revenue.
But Ecclestone was unimpressed. “It’s the same every five years,” he said. “Their revenue isn’t something I want to discuss. It’s up to us — we run the business.”
A number of proposals were put forward at the conference, which Fota want ratified at the FIA’s world council meeting on March 17.
Foremost among them is a new points scoring system for this season, which would change the current scoring system from 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 to 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1.

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