Ross Brawn eyes Formula 1 changes to make sport 'purer & simpler'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
New F1 boss Chase Carey on big talking points

Formula 1's new racing boss Ross Brawn says he wants to develop a purer, simpler sport in which more teams and drivers can win.

The ex-Mercedes team boss, who has been appointed managing director of racing by F1's new owner, was critical of some rule changes of recent years.

Brawn said he wanted to "narrow the gap between the top and bottom" of the field and give F1 a broader appeal.

"I have ideas we should study and perhaps use in 2018 or 19," he said.

Brawn pointed to the example of football's Premier League, where Leicester City were able to transform themselves from relegation candidates to champions in the space of 12 months and on a limited budget.

The 62-year-old said: "We all know the analogy of Leicester City - that would be the ideal in F1, when a good team on a great year with a great driver could really mount a challenge. But at the moment that's not really possible."

Formula 1's new racing boss Ross Brawn
Brawn has been acting as a consultant to new owner Liberty Media during the takeover process

Brawn is a member of a new senior management team appointed following the removal of Bernie Ecclestone from his position as chief executive.

American media executive Chase Carey, who was appointed president when new owner Liberty Media began its takeover in September, has now also taken on Ecclestone's former title.

Brawn is heading up the sporting and technical side of Liberty's business and former ESPN sales and marketing chief Sean Bratches is to run the commercial side.

What needs to change?

Carey has outlined plans to better promote the sport, by making more of grands prix as events in their host country and with a much wider use of digital media.

Brawn's job is to hone the on-track show to make it more appealing after criticism it has become predictable and has lost some of its edge in recent years.

He was critical of decisions made by Ecclestone, such as the adoption of a double-points finale in 2014 and a short-lived attempt to change the format of qualifying at the start of last season.

He told BBC Sport: "These have been short-term, knee-jerk reactions and that is exactly what we mustn't do.

F1 needs a fresh start - Carey

"We need to stabilise the small teams and get them on a better financial footing.

"We need to reduce the scope of the technology because there is too big a gap between the bigger and smaller teams."

He also hinted he wanted to remove the controversial drag reduction system, an overtaking aid that drivers can use at the press of a button to give them a boost in straight-line speed.

"We need to make sure there is no artificial solutions," Brawn said. "The drag reduction system; everyone knows it's artificial. We need to find purer solutions.

"We need to think through the solutions. I have ideas - I can't share them all with you because I want to share them with the teams first - but I have ideas of things we should start to study and perhaps use in '18 or '19."

Will the technology have to change?

Brawn said the high-technology aspect of F1 was a crucial part of its appeal but added: "You must balance the technology with the sporting side."

He indicated he would be open to trying to change the turbo hybrid engines introduced in 2014, which have seen revolutionary steps forward in terms of fuel efficiency but which have been criticised for being too expensive and sounding dull.

Mechanics work on a Scuderia Toro Rosso car during the 2016 F1 season
Mechanics work on a Scuderia Toro Rosso car during the 2016 F1 season

"That is something we need to discuss with the teams," Brawn said. "They have made a huge investment in these engines so you can't just discard them and say: 'We are going to change the engines.'

"But how do we get from where we are today to where we want to be in two or three years' time with a great racing engine that everyone admires and enjoys?"

Could a driver at a smaller team win the F1 title?

Part of the reason for the lack of competitiveness is the huge spread of budgets between the front and back of the grid.

Brawn said: "The level of resource the top teams are using has made an enormous gap. My nirvana would be you get slightly odd circumstances and suddenly a team from the back wins. But at the moment you have two or three teams who can win and we need to spread that."

He said a budget cap was a "delicate" issue, but added: "It has never really been tried, it was never fully adopted by Formula 1, and I think we should at least discuss it again and see if there's potential."

But he said there were other ways of closing up the field.

"We have to see if we can develop the rules to reward innovation less," Brawn said. "Because as it is now innovation is heavily rewarded and if you can afford it, the slope is still quite steep - more money, faster cars. If we can flatten that off with the regulations that would go in the right direction."

He also said he would like to try to establish a 'draft' system for promoting drivers from junior categories so the drivers who make it into F1 were there "purely on merit".

Historically, some drivers at the back of the grid have paid for their seats in F1.

"What I'd love to see is a proper progression of talent into F1 where you could even introduce a draft system where the guys who win the GP2 or Formula 2 are available for the lower teams to use in their first year or two in Formula 1."


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