Exclusive: Honda going after Ross Brawn

Honda Racing boss Nick Fry has made contact with Ross Brawn in a bid to convince Ferrari's former technical director to join the Japanese manufacturer, autosport.com can reveal

Exclusive: Honda going after Ross Brawn

On the back of Honda's disastrous start to their 2007 campaign, with the RA107 suffering from major aerodynamic problems, Fry is targeting Brawn as a key appointment to resurrect his team's fortunes in the long term.

Following the departure of then technical director Geoff Willis in the middle of last year, Honda Racing have lacked leadership from someone with extensive F1 design experience. Senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto's background is in engine design and motorbike racing.

Brawn is currently on a sabbatical from Ferrari and, although he has promised to speak to the Maranello outfit before deciding his future, sources have revealed that the Briton has no contractual obligation to rejoin his old team.

That means Brawn is free to join any outfit from the start of 2008 and, it is understood, the Briton has expressed an interest in joining Honda. It is not clear, though, just how advanced the talks with the Brackley-based team have become.

Brawn has made no secret of the fact that he eventually wants to return to Britain, having worked at Ferrari since 1996, and the challenge of turning Honda into world championship contenders would certainly provide a suitable enough challenge to stimulate him.

Autosport.com understands that the discussions between Brawn and Fry began without the pre-approval of Honda's senior management, as Fry moved unilaterally in a bid to convince Brawn on a personal level.

When asked by autosport.com, Fry refused to confirm that talks were going on, but he fell short of denying it. He said: "I've got no comment to make on that."

However, Fry did later admit that the addition of a leading technical figure like Brawn would be a huge boost to his team.

"I think every team would benefit from Ross Brawn," he said. "Whether it be us or others, but I am sure Ross has some sort of arrangement with Ferrari, so we will see."

Brawn is clearly a big attraction for any F1 team, having guided Ferrari to world championship success from 2000 to 2004.

Despite taking a sabbatical this year, it is widely believed that Brawn does want to return to F1 - with his key interest likely to be in becoming team boss at Ferrari.

In the shorter term, Honda Racing are planning to introduce a new car for the Canadian Grand Prix in a bid to turnaround their season.

Although the new car will not officially be designated a B-spec, team insiders have told autosport.com that it will likely be a complete revamp of the RA107 concept.

Work on the new car began after pre-season testing in Bahrain when the team first realised the difficulties they were in.

Fry would not confirm specific details of what was planned, but admitted that major upgrades were in the pipeline for Montreal.

When asked by autosport.com how new the car would be, he said: "That's to be established at the moment.

"We are working on a fairly extensive array of improvements but, at the moment, a lot of those are being worked on in the wind tunnel.

"Clearly there is a limit in what you can do before Canada and we will do the maximum amount, but it will only be if it works.

"There is no point in changing things for the sake of it. We need to understand why we have the problems we do and make sure they are being properly addressed.

"Changing bits of the car just to make ourselves feel good is not being very constructive, so there is a lot of work to be done."

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