Ross Brawn was appointed as Formula One’s managing director back in 2017, when Liberty Media took over the ownership of the world’s most famous racing series. However, when former-CEO Chase Carey announced his farewell at the end of the 2020 season, rumours regarding the Brawn’s possible departure began circulating.
Nevertheless, during an interview with RacingNews365.com, the former technical director of Ferrari, and former team principal of Honda, Brawn GP and Mercedes, has denied such reports and made it clear that he has every intention to continue working in F1 and escorting it out of the Coronavirus’ crisis.
With reference to the voices going around, he commented: "I'm not sure where the rumours came from. But no, I'm very excited about the challenges we face at the moment. […] The challenges of COVID keep me motivated and wanting to carry on. I'll have to stop at some point in the future, we all do, but I'm not planning it at the moment."
Moreover, he expressed his excitement for the new 2022 cars, which he helped design: “It would have been frustrating not to be able to see the new cars”.
With the 67-years-old Chase Carey taking a step back as the CEO of Formula One, Brawn believes it is important for him to keep his role as managing director, as it ensures the continuity that the series needs and deserves.
Additionally, starting from 2021, the Brit will be joined by his long-standing friend Stefano Domenicali. The two are no strangers to one another as they have previously worked together at Ferrari: "We've worked together and I think that's very helpful because we know each other's strengths. We know we can trust each other”.
However, he believes their common past working history is not that great of a deal. In fact, he made it clear: they are both professionals and they know that their priority as managers of F1 must be to act in the best interests of Formula One, as a whole.
"I try and do what's right for Formula 1," Brawn added. "Sometimes that suits Ferrari, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes that suits Mercedes, sometimes it doesn't. That doesn't influence the decisions we make. I think we're all the same. Stefano went and worked for Lamborghini who are Ferrari's biggest competitors, so I think we all have an affection for teams we worked for before, but we're professional enough to put that to one side."
Brawn has also commented on how he envisions the sport's short- and long-term future. Back in November 2019, Formula 1 announced an extremely ambitious sustainability plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. Despite the challenges posed by the current health crisis, the entire F1 community has embraced the intent to become a more sustainable sport.
Among the purposes of being a “greener” sport is that of finding ways to more efficient fuels. The current set of engine regulations were introduced in 2014. Although the introduction of turbo-hybrid engines has been largely debated among both members of the paddock and fans, there is no doubt that it was definitely a step in the right direction with regard to fuel efficiency.
Even if the carbon footprint of the cars is a very small fraction of F1’s total footprint as a sport (0.7%), it is important that the most visual part of the sport becomes more sustainable and can have real-world benefits. As reported by formula1.com, the target for the next generation of engines is to combine hybrid technology with sustainable fuels.
"We think there's an opportunity with the power unit to set a new target and a new objective, which could be extremely appealing to the existing suppliers and new OEMs," Brawn also stressed that it is not just a matter of regulations for the power-unit, but also for the regulations concerning fuel.
"The key thing is sustainable fuels. And we want to be able to use a fuel which completes the carbon cycle and comes via renewable sources to close off the carbon circle. And therefore, we can demonstrate that having a carbon neutral fuel is viable”.
He also added that he believes “the new engine will be likely to have a higher level of hybridization, I think it will have to use and we wanted it to use sustainable fuels."
As far as key goals are concerned, Brawn claimed that Formula One is working on attracting new equipment manufacturers to the sport while trying to be mindful of the costs of the engines: "Too often in the past, we've set technical objectives, it will be x capacity, it will have 1000 horsepower, it will do this, it will do that. And we've never mentioned the cost," Brawn told to RacingNews365.com
"We have engines that cost us as a unit in excess of £1 million. And they used to cost £100,000. And that was a consequence of a ‘technical-objective-lead’ formula, rather than having the business case in mind as well”.
"The OEMs want to be presented with a wide range of possibilities. Electrification is an example of this because it can be applied in various ways, but further deepening the hybrid process with sustainable fuels is also a strong option."
Regarding the timing of these new regulations, they’re probably coming into the sport no sooner than 2025 or 2026. Brawn said there are “discussions about this, including in the FOFAP (Formula One Fuels Advisory Panel, an advisory body, ed.)”. But they believe it would be better to make a decision within the end of this year, in order to “have sufficient time to get everything going, talk with current suppliers and prospective ones”.