Who is Ross Brawn? All about the mastermind behind Michael Schumacher's 7 F1 titles
One of the most popular names in F1 and its paddock, Ross Brawn has a storied association with the sport. From dominating F1 with Ferrari and Michael Schumacher to changing several technical regulations to promote closer racing, Brawn has achieved quite a lot in his career.
The Briton was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, in 1954. In his early days, Brawn was interested in engineering and watched several racing series. After his early academic life, he was taken on as a mechanical craft apprentice by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority in Harwell.
Ross Brawn's career in motorsport started in 1976 with March Engineering as a milling machine operator. However, his journey in F1 started when he saw an advertisement for Frank Williams GP (currently known as the Williams F1 team) for a milling machinist. Since he had the skills to take up the job, he was interviewed and began working for the newly formed F1 team in 1978.
Over the years, he quickly moved up the ranks and soon became an aerodynamicist for Williams. In 1985, he moved to Haas Lola as a member of the design team led by Neil Oatley. From 1986 to 1991, Ross Brawn worked in the Arrows GP International and Jaguar Sportscar racing divisions as a car designer.
His career as a technical director began with Benetton in 1991. This is where the Briton first met Michael Schumacher. His engineering skills and Schumacher's driving prowess allowed the team to win their first constructors' world championship in 1995. Schumacher also won two of his seven world titles with Benetton under Brawn.
After Ferrari signed Michael Schumacher as their main driver, they soon appointed Brawn as their race strategist and technical director. The duo went on to win six constructors' world titles together. The German driver won five of his seven world titles with the scarlet team. This was Ross Brawn's most dominant phase of his career as a technical director for the team.
After leaving Ferrari and taking a one-year sabbatical, the Briton joined the Honda F1 team. However, the team withdrew from the sport and was up for sale. Brawn himself took 54% of the stake, essentially making the team his own. He named the team Brawn GP and raced in the 2009 F1 season. With experienced drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, and Mercedes as their engine suppliers, Brawn GP was able to win both world titles on debut.
The team was later bought out by Mercedes Benz after just one season while keeping Ross Brawn on board. Although Michael Schumacher left the sport in 2006, he returned and joined Mercedes in 2010 simply because Brawn was in it as a team principal. Unfortunately, the duo weren't able to win anything with the Silver Arrows.
Ross Brawn left the sport in 2013, though he hinted that he could return to F1 in 2016. In January 2017, he was appointed to the newly created role of managing director of motorsports and technical director of the entire Formula One Group. He brought some of the biggest technical regulation changes that promoted closer racing. In late 2022, the Briton announced his retirement from the sport, though he mentioned how he will always be available whenever F1 needs him.
Ross Brawn shares his thoughts on reverse grids in F1
Ross Brawn recently worded his thoughts on the reverse grid concept and how it would change F1. Though it will promote many more overtakes and on-track battles, he thinks that it will make the sport too 'synthetic'.
Speaking to Motorsport, Brawn said:
"There’s always this debate about reverse grids. Reverse grids would be pretty entertaining. I think most of us would love to see what would happen. But there is an element of our fans who think that’s getting too synthetic, too World Wrestling sort of thing, and that you should reward the best guys and so on. I get that as well and I think we’ve got to be very cautious on that side of things."
In the past, several F1 drivers have expressed their dislike towards the reverse grid concept. Though several other racing series use the format, it is safe to say that F1 will not implement it anytime soon.