At the recent Belgian Grand Prix, we were joined in the Champions Club by Ross Brawn, legendary former technical director for Benetton and Ferrari and team boss of Brawn GP. Now Formula 1’s® Managing Director of Motorsports, Brawn touched on his best memories from Spa-Francorchamps and why the circuit is such a challenge, as well as some of the highlights from his incredible career.
This is the second part of our Q&A with Ross Brawn at the Belgian Grand Prix. Read the first part here: Exclusive – Ross Brawn Talks about the Future of Formula 1
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
I think it’s fair to say that it’s one of my favourite tracks. Fantastic history and so many great memories. As an engineer, Spa was a real challenge. It’s one of the most difficult circuits to get the cars set up and balanced because you have a very fast middle sector with sweeping bends. You want as much wing as you can; as much aerodynamic force as you can generate. But if you overdo it, you lose too much time on the first and third sectors. You are always trying to find that compromise in the aerodynamic settings. Having the car perfectly balanced so the driver has confidence in all of these fast corners is crucial. The other thing you have to try and factor ins is that the conditions vary so much here. It’s a moving feast in terms of trying to get the cars to work as well as you can.
Your best memory here?
One race with Michael Schumacher, where he started pretty much at the back of the grid and fought his way up [1995 Belgian Grand Prix, when Schumacher won from 16th on the grid]. This was one of his favourite circuits. He had his first race win here. Some great memories here with Michael. Michael often won here in very difficult conditions. This is a track where it can be dry and sunny at one end and raining at the other end. He was a master of dealing with that and getting the most from it.
Your favourite car?
When I went to work at Ferrari, they had some wonderful posters on the wall with quotes from Enzo Ferrari, one of which said, “My favourite car is the next one I’m going to design!” There is a lot of truth to this in Formula 1®. You always look forward, never back. Having said that, I’ve stopped designing cars. I think the 2004 Ferrari was pretty special. It was a car that won most of the races that year.
Then, of course there was the Brawn GP, which was like a phoenix that rose from the ashes. The team was shut down by Honda, but we managed to keep it alive and we produced a car that was very special and won both championships. That was a car that meant an awful lot to me and I’ve actually got one of those. I own one. For those of you interested, it’s going to be running at Goodwood Festival of Speed next year, because it’s the tenth anniversary of Brawn GP’s success. I’m proud to say it’s the only team with a 100% track record.
Who’s going to win today?
The great thing about the current championship is you don’t know. I think it will be between Mercedes and Ferrari. They’ve pulled a gap on Red Bull. With this circuit being power sensitive, it will be one of those two teams. Kimi looks extremely strong this weekend, and it’s a shame he had such a poor qualifying, because he might have come through. It’s a track where we often get a safety car, which resets things. I think it’s going to be between Kimi, Vettel and Hamilton. I’d probably put my money on Vettel this afternoon.
Sebastian Vettel did indeed win the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix for Ferrari! Official Ticket Packages from F1® Experiences for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix are now on sale.