Ross Brawn and his team completed a fairy tale story on Sunday, clinching both titles less than a year after the outfit looked set to be out of Formula 1. The sensational comeback has left everybody in awe of what Brawn has managed over the past months. The team boss met with the media after the championship-winning race.
Q. So Ross, how does it feel to be champion?
Ross Brawn: Euphoric but numb. It is sinking in. There are little moments when I realise what the team has achieved. It's very special. Very special.
Q. Is this a different feeling to Ferrari? More emotional than when you won titles there?
RB: Different feelings. You put world championships behind you very quickly. You forget them, and I've been very lucky to be part of another World Championship. I keep saying it but the circumstances are so different. The fact that 10 months ago, the team didn't exist. We had a team of people who worked through a whole winter not knowing if they had a future. But they still worked 60 or 70 hours a week whatever it took. So the circumstances are very different. We have not had quite the resources that we enjoyed at Ferrari, so to do it in those circumstance, it is very special.
Q. How close was this season to not happening?
RB: It was very close. There were days when I went home in the evening when I didn't think it was going to happen. The great thing was that with the management group we had, with Nick [Fry], the other guys and Caroline [McGrory], not all five of us were down at the same time. I would go home desperate and I would get a phone call from Nick saying 'maybe there's a way round this, maybe we can find a solution' and vice versa. It was a group of people who saw no alternative but to fight and find a solution.
Q. Jenson has called the World Championship a fairy tale. Does it feel like that to you?
RB: I'm not sure what a fairy tale is. In terms of the fact that taking something which was on its knees and almost finished, and arriving where we have today is for me an exceptional experience. Just seeing the resolve of people who didn't give up. They were facing being put out on the street and we said 'we don't know what's going to happen but we need your support because if it can happen, without your support, we won't be in a position to do it. And they just did.
Q. What was your main hope for the season at that time?
RB: Survival was the first objective. Genuinely survival. Get to the first race and start to try to put the thing on its feet. See if we can start to find funding for the future because funding was there, but only for a year.
Survival was the first thought. You go through all these different phases. The first phase was survival. Then because Nick Fry, myself and other members of the management were totally absorbed in trying to keep the company going, in the background all the other management were trying to progress the technical side, and producing the car we had.
Q. So you had no idea where you might finish in the first season, or even the first race?
RB: We had genuinely no idea. We knew we had a car which was a really good step from where we were before. What had given us some encouragement was when testing began with the new car – we didn't see anything that was performing like you should be able to perform with the way you should be able to with these new regulations. That sounds arrogant but that was our analysis and it made us even more determined to get this thing off the ground because we thought we had a good car.
Q. Jenson called it the greatest race of his career today...
RB: He drove a fantastic race. There were some close calls and a little bit either way would potentially have been the end of it. He drove a fantastic race, and again it is the contrast between a dreadful qualifying and a great race. He drove a race worthy of a world champion today.
Q. Is he a stronger person than people give him credit for?
RB: As I said, there is this persona that people see. Last night he was destroyed. He knew that together with the team he had done a bad job and it was a golden opportunity. He went back and he thought, how am I going to turn this around? How am I going to put myself in a position to win the world championship? He came in on race morning really determined and I was impressed.
Q. Did you have the same regard for him when you were at Ferrari, or did you discover something new here?
RB: You don't until you work with somebody. You have a superficial opinion of them and in 2004 he was giving is a hard time at Ferrari. We had a sensational season but he was always there nipping at our ankles. He impressed us then. He made a big impression then. But until you work with people it is difficult.
Last year was very difficult for me to work with Jenson because of the poor equipment we had. Lots of guys in the team who I respect said, stick with it because he is exceptional. And I think going through this experience of the terrific first half and the very tough second half of the season is going to be quite a development in Jenson's character.
Q. Did you feel any split loyalties in the race with two guys fighting for the championship?
RB: They have done it in a wonderful spirit and I think it is almost exceptional in F1, the spirit between the two drivers.
Q. And you saw it today when Rubens was the first man to congratulate Jenson after the finish.
RB: They have genuinely, and I say genuinely because it is not superficial, respected each other. They have fought a tough battle and it has always been open on the table. I was sad for Rubens because I thought he had a chance today, but the second set of tires did not come together today and he had a puncture. So his Brazilian curse struck again.
Q. If Jenson does do brilliantly in Abu Dhabi, would that not reflect badly on him – in the sense that it proves that during the season he was affected by the pressure?
RB: It is an interesting point of view. Here's a guy who has never fought for a World Championship before, he had a big lead and everyone is chipping away at it. At the end he has dealt with it. He has come through and he is world champion and I think in that circumstance again he is going to be so much stronger.
Q. You say you are stunned and shocked, but will you start planning for the next season on Monday morning?
RB: Maybe I'll have a hangover in the morning so maybe in the afternoon!
Q. Your name now sits beside McLaren, Ferrari and Williams as constructors' champion team owner. What does that feel like?
RB: Ferrari kindly gave me a copy of the constructors' trophy when I left Ferrari and it sits in my study. There are all the little badges that go around it, and there is Ferrari and Lotus and McLaren. I thought today we are going to have a Brawn GP on there now. It is indescribable. It is so special .Everything is indescribable.
Q. But what it is like to have your own name there?
RB: I am very proud. It was awkward at the beginning I have to say, just seeing it there. But I am very proud and honored that my name is carried by the team.
Q. Could it have been called anything else?
RB: We did go through a lot of permutations. Pure Racing was one of the ones that did not have the right ring to it.
Q. And you considered Tyrrell as well?
RB: Yes, we looked at Tyrrell as well but we had Mercedes-Benz as a partner, so Pure Mercedes did not quite go well. We were consulting with Mercedes over the name of the team and Caroline McGrory, our legal secretary, said why don't you just call it your name. And there didn't seem to be any objections.
Q. Did you object?
RB: As I said, I felt awkward. It is an odd thing
Q. You had to reduce the size of your personnel by a significant portion this year, have you left yourself with enough resources to do the preparation to effectively defend your championship?
RB: It is tough. Undoubtedly, this car was born with a greater resource than we have now. But the element coming through now is the resource restriction, which all the teams have signed up for now. It is bringing teams down to our size. I cannot deny there might be a hiccup in that process when the other teams have more resource than we do for a while, but everyone is coming down to our size. So within a year or two, the size of Brawn GP will be the size of Formula 1 teams.
Q. Was it tough for you telling people that they had to go earlier this year?
RB: Yeah, especially with the work they did over the winter. They were so understanding but it was one of the toughest things. But it was a necessity unfortunately, but we didn't have the funding to support that number of people.
Q. Do you think Jenson would have raced for nothing?
RB: It was close to nothing. It was a substantial cut from what he was getting before. It was less than half of what he was getting before.
Q. And you had to put that to him?
RB: It was a Hobson's choice in the end, but it was that stage of the season. He understood and he never lost faith in what we were trying to do. Quite frankly Rubens and Jenson did not have any choices. It came so late, so we were lucky., And they are glad the way things worked out.
Q. But a champion team and champion name must attract funds?
RB: We are positioned well for next year.
Q. Aren't you being a bit modest there, because Jenson had some options for next year and the fact is he wanted to drive for a team run by you in a car with you name on it.
RB: Perhaps. I don't know the process he went through. Obviously I was delighted that he did stay with us, and delighted that Rubens chose to stay with us because both of them have been an exceptional ingredient to what we have achieved
We did the first four races with two chassis. You saw some of the carnage that has been going on in the last few races with some of the younger drivers, so we did the first two races with two chassis, and we have only built three chassis all year. It is a fraction of what I would have had at Ferrari. The fact that we had experienced drivers enabled us to operate like that. And it has been a great asset to us.
Q. And will Jenson be with you next year?
RB:We can now sit down and start to sort it out. We missed the window of opportunity to sort it out in the summer, and now this is done, Nick and I will be sitting down with the drivers in the next few weeks to sort it out.
Q. To some people it would seem impossible to top this.
RB: It will be tough.