Brawn GP becomes Mercedes GP - Good or Bad?
Ok so we’ve all heard the news, Brawn GP is to be re-branded Mercedes GP after Mercedes Benz bought into the team. Now this got me thinking - is this a good thing or a bad thing for F1? What does it all come down to? Well here are the basics of the deal:
- Mercedes takes control of Brawn GP with a 75.1% share in the team
- Brawn GP is to be renamed Mercedes GP and become a full works team
- Ross Brawn is to remain on as Team Principle
- Mercedes sells its 40% stake in McLaren to buy into Brawn, but will still supply McLaren with engines until at least 2015.
This will affect the state of play going into 2010 quite considerably in both a good way and a bad way.
Works Team / Private Team
First of all it’s great to see some stability from a works team in F1. Mercedes’ have long wanted to have complete control of a team in Formula 1 and by buying Brawn they have achieved this. After all of the uncertainty of the past year with manufacturers leaving F1, first Honda, then BMW and finally Toyota - and Renault are not looking all that stable either at the moment. Mercedes has now confirmed their commitment to F1 in the long term and kudos to them for that.
The down side of it is that the Brawn fairytale is over. I mean everyone has loved the story of Brawn this season. The team that was snatched from the jaws of death, given new life under Ross Brawn, on a shoe string budget they manage to not only win races but secure both the Drivers and Constructors Championships. However with Mercedes and its huge cooperate budget coming into the fold another private team has gone and any chance of us seeing what they could have done in defence of their title next season. In my opinion that is a great shame.
On the flip side with Mercedes giving up their stake in McLaren, the Woking team becomes a fully independent team. Although I doubt we will see any difference as Mercedes will still supply the team with its engines.
The Driver Market
My next area of thought was to the driver market and how this new deal has made a complete mess of it, particular for two drivers – Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. Before this it was all looking set to see Kimi going back to McLaren alongside Hamilton and once Brawn and Jenson had stopped arguing over essentially nothing, the Brit would remain there and defend his title – all good and peachy.
Personally I would have liked to have seen this happen. I always supported Kimi when he was at McLaren, he seemed to have gone to sleep since joining Ferrari and if he were to return to McLaren then I think he would give Hamilton a run for his money! I support Richard’s earlier article about Kimi and believe the Finn is one of the best drivers in F1 and should not go without a seat in a top team next year. I also see him not caring (if he were to go to McLaren) that the team is built around Hamilton and that he would just get on with doing what he excels at – racing and racing bloody well.
Now that scenario is now looking increasingly unlikely. Rumours are that Mercedes want an all German line-up and are looking at Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld to fulfill that. This would leave Jenson out in the cold and only McLaren to turn to for a top level drive that is still available. However if the Brit did go to McLaren, which is looking all but certain to happen, that would leave Kimi Raikkonen out on his ear, after his repeated statements – “Its McLaren or nothing”. It just seems that this way it is going to end up with one driver losing out.
If this leads to Kimi taking either a year out or leaving F1 completely it would be a disgrace, but I have to question Jenson’s move to McLaren. Yes if he and Brawn have had a bit of a tiff and fallen out (for whatever nonsense reason, I’ll leave it up to you) I can understand why he would look to McLaren.
The team was looking in great shape at the end of 2009 after a horrific start and if they can carry that into next year then it should be a car which will challenge for the championship, which is what Button above else wants. It would be great for the media to have an all British line-up in an all British team.
Yet as I’ve already stated McLaren is completely built around Hamilton and if they are to spearhead a Championship challenge I don’t see it being lead by anybody other than Hamilton. I also fear that Hamilton will be more than a match for Button next year, leading it to a bit of embarrassment. Jenson is good, but Lewis just seems to be on another level - and I doubt Jenson will be able to match given the same machinery. I would like to be proven wrong, but my gut says this is just not a good idea for him.
Also on the sponsorship and advertising side of things it’s kind of an interesting scenario. We could have an all-German team and an all-British team on our hands. This would be fantastic on the media front, the Brits and the Germans head to head once again.
Yet financially speaking is that not limiting the teams to their supporters? With two drivers from the same country the team’s possibilities of marketing in other countries and attracting support is dramatically reduced.
But it’s not as if we are looking to turn F1 into a race of countries. Think of it Red Bull would have to ditch Vettel and Webber for Klien and Wurz, while Renault would have to get Oliver Panis out of retirement and partner him with Franck Montagny. We’d end up like the Euro Vision song contest for pity’s sake!
In my mind it all seems to be a bit of a mess. On the one hand we have some very juicy and exciting prospects for 2010, with the possibility of an all British line-up, Hamilton and Button going head to head in the same car. We have some stability and commitment from at least one of the manufacturers in F1 and we also have a good mix up of people in new cars and new teams, giving us a fresh start. I think it was getting a bit stale with drivers staying put in the same team for too long.
Yet on the other hand we have a World Champion who is looking like he won’t be defending his title from the team and car he won it with. Instead we have Brawn… I mean Mercedes GP defending the Constructors title, with hopes pinned (most likely) on either Rosberg or Heidfeld. The pair would be going up against the likes Alonso and Massa in Ferrari's, Hamilton in a McLaren & Vettel in a Red Bull. I just can’t see that being the smart move by the team to be honest. We have also lost one of the great fairy tale teams in the shape of Brawn to the big corporate world and possibly we could also lose Kimi Raikkonen - if he can’t secure a drive soon.
The move by Mercedes has certainly created some (more) uproar and uncertainty in F1. Yet everyone isn’t quite sure how to react to it all yet as it remains to be seen just where all the pieces of the puzzle fit in.