Who do I think deserves the theoretical title of F1 Team Principal of the Year 2009?
There are some strong candidates, particularly the men running the teams battling for the championship – after all most of expected it to be a fight between the ‘usual suspects’ of McLaren and Ferrari so the emergence of Brawn and Red Bull came as a pleasant surprise. That’s not to take away from McLaren in particular who improved their car enormously.
When this question was first asked of me I only had one response. Ross Brawn. It had to be, didn’t it? Brawn and his lieutenants not only developed a fantastic car pre-season but also found time to save the team from extinction. They’d built up such an advantage that the wave carried them through some pretty lean times in mid-season when the car just wouldn’t work with the tyres, and yet despite those characteristics they still salvaged points from crap qualifying positions.
This is actually a close run thing. Christian Horner has arguably run the more sporting campaign with what would probably have been the fastest car on the grid if double-diffusers had been outlawed (their DD wasn’t added until later) while allowing the drivers to race each other until surprisingly late into the season, which is how I prefer it to be. Webber was deployed in a ‘support’ role only when it became essential to do so. Now this may be an unfair comparison because Barrichello was still in the title running until Interlagos, yet it wasn’t as clear cut at Brawn.. it almost seemed as if Rubens was being shuffled out of the way at times.
Still, the way RBR racked up points in the latter portion of the season shows they did a fantastic job and Horner has clearly turned the outfit into a Championship operation just as his fans from the Arden F3000 days, and I count myself as one of them, always hoped and suspected he eventually would – even if we didn’t expect it this season! Still, RBR were a midfield team and Honda had fallen from even that position.
So, on balance, I give this award to Ross Brawn for his achievements in turning the team from back-of-the-grid no-hopers in 2008 to title winners in 2009. Frankly that’s a hell of an accomplishment even without rescuing the team from extinction in the middle of it!
* * *
This is the first in what will hopefully be a weekly series as part of Sidepodcast’s Thursday Thoughts initiative, in which a collection of F1 bloggers write about a chosen theme and post their entry at roughly the same time, currently slated to be 9pm GMT (a little late this week, it being the first week). Check out the idea here and if you have a blog feel free to join in!
Regular readers may remember I participated in a similar scheme during last off-season which was slanted around IndyCar. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with it as I was studying heavily at the time, and it seems the concept has since been dropped entirely. I used my posts in that series to take a different angle to my colleagues, trying to relate the IRL questions to other championships as part of this blog’s remit to cover a variety of racing. I plan to do the same with Thursday Thoughts wherever the questions allow it.