Stronger Ferrari have best chance for world title: Brawn

LONDON • The Formula One managing director, Ross Brawn, believes Ferrari are in the best possible position to challenge for the world championship this season.

Brawn said the team were in disarray last year but had emerged stronger.

He also warned that when the new commercial agreement with the teams is made, Ferrari could no longer expect to receive a disproportionate payment from the sport's revenue as F1 seeks a more equitable distribution of funds.

Brawn was the technical director at Ferrari between 1997 and 2006, during which they won six consecutive constructors' titles and Michael Schumacher won five drivers' championships.

Last season, despite having the best car for some time, a series of errors by the team and Sebastian Vettel cost them dearly.

They were also hit by the death of CEO Sergio Marchionne and the tension between the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene and the technical director Mattia Binotto.

Arrivabene was replaced by Binotto in January.

"Sebastian is more than capable of winning the world championship," said Brawn. "With the calmness the team now have... they have every chance this year.

"The team were in a little bit of disarray last year with Sergio passing away and clearly there was friction between Maurizio and Mattia.

"It was not an easy environment. If you are going to beat Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, you need to be on top of everything. I feel that this year will be stronger for them."

Brawn is working on the new technical regulations, set for launch in 2021, the same year a new commercial deal with the teams is required.

Under the current Concorde Agreement, Ferrari receive an estimated US$70 million (S$95.1 million) payment for taking part, over and above any revenue from where they are classified in the championship.

Red Bull and Mercedes also receive substantial additional payments. Other teams have argued that F1 will not be competitive until revenues are more fairly distributed.

Brawn was unequivocal that there would have to be a new deal.

"There is too much disparity between the top two or three teams and the rest of the grid," he said. "You have a group of teams that could finish last and still earn more than the team that have won the world championship.

"We have to recognise the importance and history of Ferrari and the unique place they have in the sport but we also have to find a balance between that recognition and an equitable position for the rest.

"We know that if we have a more equitable distribution of revenue, we will have a better F1."

He was confident that Ferrari would be willing to compromise.

He said: "You are never going to attract new teams when you have such unfair distribution. Ferrari recognise that. They will fight tooth and nail for the best they can, but logic will have a fair part in trying to find a solution."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'Stronger Ferrari have best chance for world title: Brawn'. Print Edition | Subscribe