Ross Brawn Q&A: Mercedes best still to come in 2012 09 Aug 2012
Nico Rosberg may have brought Mercedes their first win of the modern era earlier this year, but overall its been a tough season for the Silver Arrows, in particular for Michael Schumacher, whose ever-improving form has been repeatedly thwarted by reliability woes. Fifth in the constructors championship at 2012s midway point was not what team principal Ross Brawn had in mind, but as he explains exclusively to Formula1.com, hes expecting greater things from the years remaining nine races
Q: Ross, its the summer break and the Formula One world can exhale and reflect - so how is the mood and moral at Mercedes?
Ross Brawn: I think we are pleased with some of the achievements this year. Weve won a race and had some strong podiums, and weve scored more points than wed done this time last year. But, of course, we also feel that we are not quite where we want to be in terms of consistent competitiveness. We are still working on strengthening the team, strengthening the designs to be more competitive in the future.
Q: Your McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh recently said that this season it is easier for him to be a Formula One fan than a team principal. Is that a feeling you share with him?
RB: Hes probably right. You have to come to terms with different situations that we are facing in Formula One and it is true that finding solutions to get the tyres to work most effectively is pretty challenging. But that goes for all the teams. I am encouraging our people to look at the situation as an opportunity and not as a problem. The team that gets to understand the tyres the soonest in a most effective way will be the team that is most competitive. It is more the politics in Formula One that you wish werent there, but you also have to accept this as part of the business and work with them as best as you can. Probably that also goes for the tyres. (smiles)
Q: So when do you think you will be able to speak tyre-ish fluently? Obviously right now it is still a foreign language for you
RB: Probably, yes, but I also dont believe that you will ever get fluent in what you call tyre-ish, (laughs) as I also dont believe that you will ever fully understand a racing car. You have your theories and ideas, you have your experience, but I doubt that you will ever one hundred percent understand what makes a great racing car. You will understand a fair percentage of it, but never a total understanding. I wouldnt say it has ever been by accident, but weve followed the path of building the characteristics into a car and many times weve ended up with competitive cars. But this is not an exact science. We dont spend years evaluating different ideas - we have to get them on the car and have to hope that they work well and have to judge as best as we can and move on. It is a very challenging, but very interesting business.
Q: Put Mercedes 2012 results into a bar chart and it shows occasional peaks, but the majority of the bars end not much above the zero line. Why is it still so hard to produce a more even chart?
RB: Well, what youve just described is one of the reasons we strengthen the team to more consistently hit our targets. That is what weve been doing in the last 12 months.
Q: Sauber are targeting P5 in the constructors championship - the position Mercedes currently hold. How does that go down with you? What in your eyes could thwart Saubers ambitions?
RB: I am sure they do focus on P5 - and I respect that. We havent got the car quite as we wanted right now, but we have a very good team - very good people - so I am optimistic that we are going to have a stronger second half to the season than the first half.
Q: So you want to stay where you are in the table?
RB: I want to do better. P5 is not our ambition and we will do anything possible to end better. There are still a lot of races to come with many more points to be won.
Q: Theres no doubt Michael has had more than his fair share of bad luck so far this year - and it would probably be too philosophical to think that after seven titles he has perhaps used up all his luck - but doesnt poor lucky usually strike under weak conditions?
RB: Well, you could argue what luck is. It was very unlucky for Michael - the problems that he had - but these problems have had a cause. There has been a reason why theyve occurred, which has nothing to do with Michael. It just occurred on his car and you categorically cant see any reasons why they occurred on Michaels car, but they have. So the fact is that something went wrong - and when something goes wrong its the responsibility of me and the team to not allow it to go wrong again. He had that many years perhaps benefiting from good fortune and this year he has some poor fortune, but I prefer not to believe in luck - not in motor racing.
Q: Can you analyse your two drivers for us and give your reasons as to why you want to keep each one of them?
RB: Very professional, very committed, good attitude, speed, work very well in the team, work well together as a pairing - which is not always easy with drivers - and I believe both are more than capable of winning races if we provide the equipment. That is all that you can ask from a driver.
Q: When will Michael decide if he will continue? There are not many options for you in the driver market right now, so where else would you look? The perceived understanding seems to be that he will stay
RB: I think this is a very important decision for all the people involved. We wont be rushed on the decision and when the time is appropriate we will announce what we are going to do. I dont want to increase speculation by commenting on where we are.
Q: What will you be up to in the summer break? Dividing your time between your roses and fly-fishing?
RB: Going fly-fishing. Actually Im doing a bit of both. Some days fly-fishing with some friends and then spending the rest of the time with the family. I have another grandchild now - the third - and we will all be together for a couple of days. This is a very welcome break, but I think I speak for all in saying that we never fully forget what were doing, so our minds are still churning - even if we are not making (car) parts. (laughs)
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