Ross Brawn and the Honda recovery

Jenson Button, Ross Brawn, Honda, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

After a dismal showing in winter testing Honda’s performance in the first three races of the season has been almost respectable.

Jenson Button got the RA108 into the top ten in qualifying at Bahrain – beating Fernando Alonso’s Renault – and reckoned a points finish was on the cards had he not picked up a puncture on the opening lap.

And it’s clear from Ross Brawn there’s more to come when he priased the progress the team made between the car’s launch and the start of the season:

I think it was probably the biggest step I’ve ever seen in terms of an aerodynamic package since I’ve been involved in this business.

That’s a hell of a statement from a man who’s worked on TWR Jaguar sportscars, Michael Schumacher-era Benettons and, of course, some of the most dominant F1 cars ever to come from the Ferrari stable.

The question now is, how much of his effort is he channeling into 2008, and how much is he working on the long game and making sure the team is ready for the big rules changes in 2009? Here’s what he told Autosport:

There’s an aero package for Barcelona and then I think there will be another update mid-season, possibly with some mechanical improvements. And then I think we’re going to be battening down the hatches and concentrating on 2009.

If I were a Honda fan I’d be quietly confident about the team’s chances. The Brawn factor seems to be working its magic.

I would also say it’s a fair bet Honda will stick with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello next year for continuity in the face of substantial technical upheaval.

How do you think Honda will do over the rest of 2008 – and 2009?

Honda F1 team information

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10 comments on Ross Brawn and the Honda recovery

  1. Journeyer said on 17th April 2008, 13:00

    Their goal for 2008 is respectability.  I think they’ll be happy to finish 5th or 6th.  Will they achieve that?  Yes, possibly 5th, probably 6th or 7th (behind Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Renault, Williams, Red Bull)

    Their goal for 2009 is a lot higher: to head the midfield.  Will they achieve it?  Sure, why not?  With the clock getting reset for everyone, it’s very hard to bet against someone of Mr. Brawn’s calibre.

  2. Dave M said on 17th April 2008, 13:16

    I don’t actually know what Barichello’s credentials as a car developer are, but surely someone else should get his race seat for 2009? 

  3. M Smith said on 17th April 2008, 13:16

    Ross Brawn’s magic seems to be working – yes, Honda haven’t scored any points yet, but the pace required was certainly there, and the performance was a massive leap from pre-season testing. Honda would be smart to keep their drivers and staff where they are for ’08 and ’09, especially after the massive change of staff last year. Button still has the pace, and he’s doing great without TC, and Rubens is by no means past his sell-by date. And with the testing prowess of Alex Wurz, Honda look set to improve throughout the year – and hopefully jump to the top of the midfield in 2009….

  4. m1o2k3 said on 17th April 2008, 13:30

    Whats most important is that Honda will not waste resources on this season.  I feel with that said they will certainly be in better shape for the beginning of the 09 season.This year I expect them to, by seasons end, be in the mix for the 4th best team on pace.  

  5. 4th place team to me is a little optimistic.  Renault isn’t going to just give up now.  I see them maybe 5th overall which would be an amazing improvement.

    I think the Ross Brawn effect is really working, but more on 2009 than this year.  2009 is a big year for F1 teams.

    I would like a little more of the Rubens vs Alonso competition on track.

  6. Interesting.  I wrote about this just last week – finding it a little difficult to believe that Brawn could have such a major impact so quickly.  But then, when you have a guy like that with such a strong track record then you’re willing to push just that little bit harder for him.  If you have a whole team working just a little bit harder then it all adds up.

    If they truly are making a lot of effort on their 2009 car instead of the 2008 car then I expect them to be quite strong next year (podiums, on merit, possibly).

  7. Gman said on 17th April 2008, 20:32

    It dose perhaps seem as though the team is making small, but steady, progress in 2008. I think a key question is how much work the team puts in for 2008 before moving attention to 2009 and the new regulations. From what i’ve read on here, it seems as though the rule changes will help many teams to possibly compete at a high level, so perhaps Ross has arrived at just the right time to move Honda up the grid a few notches.

  8. Wesley said on 17th April 2008, 23:13

    Gman makes a good point,Brawn did come along at a great time.Without traction control,along with experienced drivers and Brawn’s magic they have a very good shot I think.But,next year will be their big step up I’m sure.

  9. just to say good luck to Honda. Maybe something will change soon even if it’s not going to be this year.

  10. Chas said on 18th April 2008, 21:14

    thank goodness for ross is all i imagine they are saying at honda. remember the days when honda powered mclaren? they were invincible! could they ever reach those heights again?

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