On this day seven-years ago, Jenson Button won the 2009 World Championship and completed the fairytale for Brawn GP. Ross Brawn rescued Brackley and the team that would become the Mercedes powerhouse today was given a foundation in which to prosper.
Brawn continued to steer the ship for Mercedes up until 2013. Having fueled the return of Michael Schumacher and played a key role in luring Lewis Hamilton from McLaren, Brawn left the team in a very good place. But why did he leave the F1 paddock in what many consider an early exit?
In his book, ‘Total Competition: Lessons in strategy from Formula One’, Brawn suggests that it wasn’t just a case of filling a fly-fishing fix. He writes,
“What happened at Mercedes is that people were imposed on me who I couldn’t trust. I never really knew what they were trying to do. I mean Niki would tell me one thing, then I would hear he [Toto] was saying something else.”
– Ross Brawn
Brawn also mentions an occasion in which Toto Wolff made disparaging remarks towards him. He added,
“He said I was resting on my money now. I had got all this money and I wasn’t interested in the team anymore, and I wasn’t motivated and I wasn’t doing this, I wasn’t doing that. That the team needed a fresh impetus and all that sort of stuff. Digressing slightly, he was very new to the team and he had been flattered by the board’s attention.
What the board had said to him, from what I understand, is ‘This team is not working for some reason, you’re a smart businessman, you know Williams, can you just go in there and tell us what’s wrong?’
So I was beginning to deal with people who I didn’t feel I could ultimately trust; people within the team, who had let me down already in terms of their approach.
Then in early 2013, I discovered Paddy Lowe had been contracted to join the team and it had been signed off in Stuttgart. When I challenged Toto and Niki, they blamed each other. I met them to have it out with them. And they both pointed to each other…”
– Ross Brawn
Something else that’s jaw-dropping is the list of driver salaries for the 2017 season:
Shady stuff… The account from Brawn highlights that behind closed doors, the Mercedes team dealt with him quite poorly. The level of competition in F1 appears to be as potent off-track.