News and views on motorsports

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ross Brawn And Honda

Back in 1994, Ferrari after 3 long win-less years, received technical assistance from Honda, who had by then long left Formula 1. Assistance that allowed them a victory and began the steady road back to championship level competitiveness. This was admitted by di Montezemolo himself before sometime after that retracting the statement. Ungrateful dog. But everyone knew Honda had a hand in helping them out in those dark days. And now it seems that by not allowing Ross Brawn to take the helm at Gestione Sportiva, Ferrari have returned the favour.

I have a great affection for both McLaren and Honda. I recall with great fondness the good old days when Ayrton Senna in a Honda powered McLaren was near unbeatable. Oh sure, there were the odd Williams or Ferrari victory here and there but over the course of the season, you could count on this combination to take championship honours. Back in the day, Honda's foray into Formula 1 was more of a technical R & D exercise to train its brightest engineers. The folks at Honda R&D literally ran the show on the engine side.

By contrast today, the needs of corporate marketing and promotion dominate the investment into grand prix racing. And as a result, Honda have suffered for it. Arguably their best years in this current era was during the reign of David Richards. A proper racing man you might argue (though not without his own devious set of practices). Since he left Nick Fry in charge everything's gone downhill save for a brief bright spell last year the culminated in Jenson Button's win in Hungary.

And now in only the second piece of good news I've heard in several months apart from Kimi's championship win, is the story that Ross Brawn will be Brackley bound for next season. Sure, it will take time for him to rebuild this year's disastrous team. But if he is given a free hand, I would dearly love to see him bring back glory to the Anglo-Japanese team. It might not be Senna, Prost and McLaren all over again but anything's better than the current state they are in and a proud name like Honda should be doing a lot better.

But Ross should fear the ever present hand of corporate interference. Not too long ago, fellow Englishman Mike Gascoyne a dose full of corporate bollocks but then again, Ross Brawn's track record (in addition to his considerable technical skills) should carry a lot more clout with the suits and beanies.

Make no mistake, the challenge to Ross Brawn is considerable. But here is man who knows all about the proper mix of ingredients for a championship winning team. Jenson Button has recently declared that he would leave if things did not improve. Well, Jense help is at hand. Hopefully, not too long from now, he'll have a chance to give Hamil-shit the spanking he deserves. And for sure, Ross Brawn will need everything his drivers have got to win.

Would it be too much to ask that along the way, Honda takes Maranello to the cleaners as they did in the eighties?

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