Ross Brawn Q&A

Michael Schumacher's third World Championship is also the third for technical director Ross Brawn, who in partnership with designer Rory Byrne was the architect of Schumacher's success at Benetton in 1994-'95. Brawn joined Ferrari a year after Michael, and since then they have been a formidable combination. His contribution is two-fold. Firstly, thanks to Brawn, the Ferrari technical department is better organised and more motivated than ever before, with logic and attention to detail the key words. And secondly, he's the general on the pit wall, coming up with the strategies that take advantage of Michael's ability to string together stunning laps when the pressure is on. Suzuka was yet another fine example of the pair at work

Ross Brawn Q&A

"A bit exhausted actually! It was a hard race. Everything is going through your mind - how hard should Michael push, is second place good enough to take us to Malaysia, or should we push it to the limit and see if we can win the race? There's a lot churning through your mind, and I'm exhausted!"

"It's what we planned. It was fortuitous that it got a little bit greasy, and I'm sure that helped. I was quite surprised how big a gap there was, because by my calculations there was only about a second and a half, but I think maybe Mika had a couple of difficult laps, either with traffic or maybe the track conditions. So I was really pleased to see the gap we had. When I saw Mika come in on lap 37 I knew we had a chance. The big part of the race was Michael catching and hanging on to Mika in the middle part, when he had a bit more fuel than Mika. That was the key part of the race and Michael did a fantastic job."

"Mika's such a good starter and our starts are not the best, and you kind of allow for it in the strategy. We certainly didn't have a strategy that was going to be dead if we didn't make the start. A one-stopper for instance would have been a good strategy if you got away at the start, but if you didn't then you were dead. We had a strategy which coped both ways."

"Well, I only noticed today that pole position is actually very slippery. When you look at pole position there's a lot painting on the floor, and I suddenly realised why he might have been struggling a little bit. It's something we've still got to try and improve."

"We had the benefit of being able to count how much fuel Mika put in the car, and being able to judge how far he was going to go. We knew the only chance we had was to go a couple of laps longer than he did, and with that sprinkling of rain, it was perfect."

"I think this will make a difference to him. I think the fact that we got there eventually will actually make a difference to him. All of us have been under massive pressure for the last four years, and I think this will release the pressure."

"The great thing about Michael is he gives his maximum at every race. You could pinpoint various races at Benetton and Ferrari where he was exceptional. He's always very good. His standard is exceptionally high. I can't really think of a bad race for Michael. Obviously you can have an accident at the first corner, but in terms of not performing and not making 100 or 110% effort, I can't think of a race where Michael has done that. Obviously Suzuka was a fantastic race, so important. If you think of the stress on the guy - the stress on him and Mika. They were both exceptional."

"I think when that happens you get a little bit anxious, and you might try a bit too hard, almost. We had a look at where we were. The improvement in the performance of the car hasn't come from anything specific, it's come from getting the best out of it, because we did two or three races where we really didn't get the car working properly. And so we examined the way we were approaching it. I think we were trying too hard; we were trying too many things to try and apply the solution, when in fact the solution was just to make small adjustments and fine tune the car. The car is very good. I know a lot of people say that the McLaren is faster, but I think it's an open point, because Mika's a very fast driver. I think Rory's car is the best, but people might accuse me of being biased!"

"That's the nice thing about Ferrari. We've kept the continuity. It's a credit to Montezemolo, and the people in charge of Fiat and Ferrari have kept faith in the people they've had and realised that you can only achieve success with continuity. Next year we've got exactly the same group of people, so I see no reason why next year's car shouldn't be another step along that road."

"Not particularly, I think it's a very good car. We had a bit of a problem with rear tyre degradation in the middle of the season, and I think that's where we realised that we'd done a couple of things which actually weren't helping. We made a couple of changes to the car which looked quite good in the short runs, when in fact we hadn't really studied them properly in terms of race runs. We took a couple of steps backwards on some things, and we got the tyres working again properly."

"It will be interesting to see. I can't see there being any dramatic difference in what McLaren think is a good tyre and what we think is a good tyre. In the interest of beating Michelin we have to find a way of working together on the tyres, because it would not be sensible for us to be coming into conflict about the type of tyre that we should develop. I had a meeting with Martin Whitmarsh [Managing Director of McLaren] earlier this year about how we should develop tyres for next year, so I think for the good of Bridgestone and the good of McLaren and Ferrari we need to work together. I don't know how strong Michelin will be."

"It makes it interesting. Probably if we're fighting with McLaren it can be a distraction. Michelin are a very good company, but I'll just be a little bit surprised if they are competitive at every track next year. I think we'll find that they just haven't got the experience. There will be some tracks where they're very good, and some tracks where they'll struggle a little bit. Bridgestone will have the consistency over the season. When we were fighting McLaren in the Goodyear days then a lot of our time was devoted to tyre testing, because it was the quickest way of progressing. You find more time in tyres more easily than you can in the car. So I think there will have to be a huge effort on tyres next year. I think McLaren are very committed to that as well; obviously we don't want the situation where one team is developing the car and the other team is developing the tyres. So I think we will share the workload."

"That's always a possibility, certainly if Michelin shows some promise. Our tyre contract finishes at the end of the year, and probably McLaren's does as well. But I think Bridgestone will actually remove that possibility..."

"Ferrari is a special place, there's no doubt. When you first arrive you wonder what to expect. It's a very professional, normal organisation. It has a huge history, but that doesn't get in the way. Nobody in Ferrari believes that they should win just because they used to win, everyone at Ferrari knows that you've got to win by working very hard and doing a good job. The place has a huge history and that's what makes Ferrari so special, but it's something that we must make sure never holds us back."

Mercedes shoulders its share of the blame

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