Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Long term thinking // Ross Brawn joins Honda Racing for 2008

Published by Mr. C

Today's news that Mr. Brawn has joined the Honda boys in Brackley got me thinking.

Reading through most of the reactions around the web today, I get the impression that a lot of people are assuming Nigel Stepney once played a part in this ruse, along with his best mate Mike. However those kind of suggestions do Brawn a massive disservice.

Allow me to pose a question for a moment. How long do you think Ross Brawn has been planning this switch? Some voices are saying the choice was made earlier this year, possibly around April, others are saying before that, maybe around the end of last season.

I say June 2006.

Back in June of last year, Honda did a very uncharacteristic thing, in fact it did something that it's been repeatedly criticised for ever since. On June 21st 2006, Honda F1 Racing fired technical director Geoff Willis.

At the time it seemed like an odd descision and the team's performance has pretty much been a downward spiral to this very day. It had been assumed Nick Fry would probably be the first out of the door, but Willis' exit was a bolt from the blue. Could it be possible that an agreement was made between Fry and Brawn, then very soon after Mr. Willis was shown the door?

Two days after said sacking, Ross Brawn chipped in on the affair with a few choice quotes:

A technical change takes three years to settle down. I don't know Honda's structure, but if someone asked me to go into an organisation, I think realistically it would be a three-year time scale.

- Ross Brawn

As far as I'm aware no other technical director offered an opinion on the reshuffle at Honda HQ, nor did any other paddock rivals, but Ross seemed to have a particular interest. He went on to say:

You have to have a balance, you have to decide between making any changes, against consistency.

- Ross Brawn

My guess is Ross did know Honda's team structure, and decided that changes had to be made (the sooner the better), so that his three year process had the best head start possible. Did he request Honda be put through the pain before his arrival, possibly even feeding Fry recommendations throughout the year from his fishing boat?

Going back to Stepney for a moment, I think Ross is too smart to have included him in these plans, but, as an aside, I do now wonder back to when the spying scandal first broke.

Remember, Nick once met with Mike and Nigel at Heathrow airport. Did the details of that conversation get back to Brawn and subsequently maybe onto Ferrari? What do you think Stepney's reaction was when he woke up this morning and read the news?

There's more to this story than a simple case of technical director jumps team. It may take a while to fully join the dots, but I'd love to hear everybody's thoughts on this one.