Having taken over the team from Honda when the Japanese manufacturer quit the sport, Brawn oversaw a stunning campaign that ended with double championship glory before the announcement earlier this week that Mercedes was to take a controlling stake in the team.
While that deal will mean the Brawn GP name disappears after just a single year, Brawn said he had no regrets about the decision which would secure the future of the team and work for those employees who remained following the Honda withdrawal.
“As I said to the staff, it’s sad to see the team only in existence for a year, but what a year!” he said in an interview with the Independent. “We’ve had a wonderful time, and in many ways it was a difficult decision, but now we’ve joined the most prestigious brand in the automotive world.”
“At some stage as a team owner you have to pass it on. I’m almost 55 and I’m not planning to do a Bernie [Ecclestone]. It was tempting to try to repeat this year’s success but it would have been an awful risk. We were already working with Mercedes’ engine group and all the stars aligned. It was an opportunity to give the team a very strong future.”
Brawn admitted that team ownership had been the last thing on his mind when he and Nick Fry were called into a meeting with Honda bosses twelve months ago and said he didn’t regret the decision taken as it prevented him from possibly exiting F1 on a low.
“We were very apologetically informed that the [Honda] board had decided they couldn’t continue in Formula One,” he said. “Nick and I spent the rest of the day working out how we could turn out the lights and shut the doors in the fairest possible way to all our people – over 800 in the UK alone. We had no notion that we might continue, but that was a subject we broached once we’d recovered from the initial shock. Could we keep it going? It didn’t look very sensible, but at the same time, we hadn’t really understood the huge costs of closing a company.
“Formula One showed a benevolent side that isn’t always apparent to people, but the great thing about motor racing is that it’s a club, and although most of the time you’re trying to beat each other by whatever means possible, in dire times the club comes together very well.
“Of course, it’s possible that our poor performance in 2008 confirmed to Honda that they shouldn’t continue, which was frustrating, because I didn’t want to finish my Formula One career at the end of 2008, the worst championship I’d had for 15 years. And I knew we had a race-winning car for 2009.”
Brawn meanwhile is also reported by the German publication Auto Motor und Sport to have said that he is in ‘no rush’ to formalise a driver line-up for the 2010 season following the departure of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, stating that it would be ‘stupid’ to make a quick decision and that a slot with Mercedes was the ‘most attractive seat on the market’.