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Liberty have done a great job, says Brawn


As he heads off to watch the sport from the comfort of his sofa, Ross Brawn is adamant that Liberty Media, has been a positive force for F1.

The Briton is stepping down as F1's managing director of motorsport, and though linked with a number of positions within the sport insists that he is retiring and will restrict his future involvement to watching races from his sofa.

As an engineer, technical director and team boss, Brawn built a much deserved reputation as one of the best in the business, but since being recruited by F1, much like Stefano Domenicali, has become very much the company man.

Brought on board, like Domenicali, because of his vast experience in the sport, in Brawn Liberty Media saw the opportunity to use the Briton's knowledge to reshape it as it sought to radically overhaul F1 and attract a new audience whilst not fully alienating the existing fan-base.

Under Bernie Ecclestone it must be admitted that the sport was not realising its full potential, though many would argue that under Liberty it has gone the other way.

Alongside initiatives such as Drive to Survive and a full-on approach to social media, the sport has sought to exploit all means possible to attract and retain its newly won over audience whilst never missing an opportunity to monetise.

"I think Liberty have done a great job," says Brawn, according to "I would say this, but they employed me! And while I say that, they recognised that they wanted to improve the sport. They didn't just come in and say ‘how can we improve the margins?'

"Their mind-set was: ‘There's this great sport, how can we take the sport forwards? Because the rewards will come when we take the sport forwards, not by squeezing more juice out of the lemon.' And Greg and Chase had that vision. And, luckily, I had the opportunity to be involved.

"Therefore I think Liberty have taken a great approach. Certainly, if you look at the history of owners in Formula 1, they're the only ones that I've seen do it, and I've been here quite a long time.

"If you look back, I can't think of many owners that put that sort of investment into the sport. I won't tell you my budget, but it was a substantial budget to do that work we did. And that's a commitment, which is paying off now."

Though F1 did well to put together a schedule during the pandemic, it was Drive to Survive that really boosted the sport's image.

Amidst the lockdowns viewers discovered the Netflix show, which hadn't been attracting a significant audience outside of the sport's core fan-base until then, and by the time the 'all-clear' was given a whole new army of fans had been won over.

This, combined with a non-stop aggressive social media policy which saw F1 management, the teams and drivers all working together, steadily changed the look of the fan-base, not only in terms of numbers but also the demographics.

As more sports get on board the Netflix train and present their own version of Drive to Survive, Brawn is confident that F1 can maintain its position.

"It's pretty good," he says. "I mean, we can't be complacent, but we've got huge interest in Formula 1.

"What's pleasing is there's a new demographic coming through with a great balance of diversity, particularly gender diversity in that new demographic. And that's really encouraging.

"We've got to make sure we retain our sort of core, long-term fans," he adds, "we don't want to alienate them. And that's why I say I think the integrity of the racing is critical."

One of the main complaints once Brawn ditched his role as poacher for that of gamekeeper was his willingness to follow the Liberty mantra of incorporating more gimmicks into the sport.

Whenever a set of natural circumstances somehow conspired turned a race on its head, Brawn was the first to suggest that the concept be adapted in order to spice up races.

A perfect example is the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, when the race was red-flagged and subsequently re-started, by which time a number of drivers were out of position, not least Lewis Hamilton who had been forced to the back of the (restart) grid after being penalised. While the Briton staged a brilliant come back to finish seventh, the race was won by Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri.

"Monza was a candidate for a reverse grid sprint race when we were considering testing the format this year," enthused Brawn the following day in his debrief for the official F1 website. "Unfortunately, we could not move forward with it, but the concept is still something we and the FIA want to work through in the coming months and discuss with the teams for next year. We believe that yesterday's race showed the excitement a mixed-up pack can deliver and with next year's cars remaining the same as this year - our fans could be treated to the similar drama we saw this weekend at Monza."

Thankfully, the powers that be remain unconvinced by reverse grids, but another of Brawn's cause celebres is the Sprint.

"There's always this debate about reverse grids," he says. "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 WWF 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.

"You have a sprint race now. And, for me, a sprint race can only add because it's a competition, it's a contest, best guy wins, smartest guy wins, it's a meritocracy. It's just an additional demonstration of the drivers' talents during a race weekend. I think the sprint is great.

"I can't see why anyone would really have a problem with that. That should, if they've got an open mind, appeal to all our fans. I can see why a reverse grid could be divisive and could unsettle some of our fans and that's something we've got to keep in mind.

"I think we're in a great place," he concludes. "We seem to have engaged well with our existing fans. We've got this new group of fans that we need to continue to engage with, and I think we've taken the opportunity of giving our fans a much deeper insight into the sport than they had before.

"I can see why personalities are appealing. And, as you know, we've opened up social media, which has its downsides and we're never gonna stop that, but I think for fans who engage in the sport and feed their passion, that's good."


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1. Posted by Steve 666, 26/12/2022 10:46

"The grid for Spint races should be in reverse Championship order, then have normal Qualifying for that weekends GP."

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2. Posted by kenji, 23/12/2022 12:38

"@ Cobra Driver hahaha In my case the 'old ages'."

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3. Posted by Cobra Driver, 23/12/2022 10:34

"@ kenji, a question for the ages."

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4. Posted by kenji, 23/12/2022 10:18

"@ Cobra Driver...are zebras just white horses with black stripes or black horses with white stripes?"

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5. Posted by Cobra Driver, 22/12/2022 13:29

"Aesop could have used Braun as a PR guy. This is not one of his Fables, but it fits. When you hear thundering hooves, you probably visualize horse, not zebras. Braun sees zebras.

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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 21/12/2022 14:21

"Knock me darn wiv a fever..."

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7. Posted by kenji, 21/12/2022 1:11

"@ Wokingchap...Very many thanks for your comment.Point taken and appreciated. A true 'afficionado'."

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8. Posted by itc, 20/12/2022 22:28

"Ross Brawn has become the One Wise Monkey of F1."

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9. Posted by Wokingchap, 20/12/2022 15:09

"So sorry Kenji, I accidentally clicked on neg. I was aiming at pos. but's all so small on my phone...... consider that as1 pos.
Like you I need to watch every race, mostly live and have done since the late 80s and only missed about 3. We have to put up with all the rubbish (drs and tyres dictating far too much for me) and media stuff.
I'll carry on enjoying the racing....... for now."

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10. Posted by Defiant, 20/12/2022 0:43

"@kenji, I completely understand your confusion and a few years ago I'd have thought the very same thing. If I couldn't watch a race live (or back in the day when the BBC didn't televise everyone of them) I'd at the very least been within earshot of the radio commentary then hit the VHS or as years went by, the PVR as soon as I got back. But, then after the wrinkly one sold up it slowly but surely 9!$$30 me off more and more frequently. I emigrated too, which certainly affected the enjoyment for a while as not all commentators are created equally, but that did rectify itself thankfully. However, the sport got stale and the business got more eventful, this was disheartening to say the least. Each and every attempt to liven things up seemed to do the exact opposite for me. Carey, Todt, Brawn, Domenicalli, and Massi all seemed to be bringing the sport into disrepute and the history seemed to be leaking away. Then a few things happened, the most decorated driver in history began his social justice warrior bit making him hard to respect for the things he should be respected for, to even tolerate his face on tv, add the bickering bores from the top two teams behaving like Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee from Willie Wonka & the chocolate factory. DTS making the sport look like WWE wrestling. The media asking the most frustratingly annoying questions leading to petty squabbles for nothing but their own amusement. Then, last year. The most exciting driver for a while put the final nail in the coffin with his antics all while being defended by a large portion of the people making decisions at FIA towers. I haven't watched a single race live since, and don't forsee that I will.
I know that's quite the rant and may not sit well with all, but you did ask....."

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11. Posted by kenji, 19/12/2022 23:56

"@ Defiant...I don't know quite how you do it! How can you, as an avowed long time follower of F1, not watch a race? Just knowing that there is a race underway and you choose to go fishing or gardening/wash the car is beyond me. I don't want to miss one minute of any race despite my concern about a few issues that really are trivial in the totality of the events being staged. I also realised many many years ago that F1 is primarily a business venture and no amount of speculation about 'lofty competetive ideals and laurel garlands' can alter that fact. The sporting element was discarded a long long time ago [ if it ever really existed ] and race results can and are manipulated regularly but overlooked by those whose views are firmly entrenched on activities taking place at the 'bottom of the garden'. Despite all of these realities I still derive immense pleasure and satisfaction at watching what still is, for me, great viewing entertainment compared to what else is on offer. That, and a lifelong interest in engineering technology showcased in the F1 spectacle satisfies some of my motorsport hunger. Roll on '23. Can't come quick enough."

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12. Posted by Defiant, 19/12/2022 17:27

"Oh, imagine the shock we all feel, you had a hand in making the rules and you now think it's a good idea..... oh, wow, what a revelation.

Sorry Ross, what you have done is help liberty drag down the sport we all loved into a show, as contrived as something in a big top in years gone by.

You have a lot to be proud of in your career and some things to be ashamed of, your connection to liberty without doubt falls into the latter category. @Mad Matt and KKK, you're both correct. Mad Matt, you do have more staying power than me, since watching every single televised race without exception since the early mid 80s, I began missing more and more races since liberty took over to the point this year, I watched a few highlights on YT and just read this site as my f1 fix and not a single full race and especially not a sprint."

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13. Posted by Mad Matt, 19/12/2022 14:23

"I still don't see that Sprint races add anything, I know some like kenji don't agree but for me there doesn't seem to be any element of frenetic overtaking and if anything they're a bit more boring than the main races. The only exception I can think of was Brazil but in that case it was more a matter of things being made interesting by rain and changing conditions... which weren't anything to do with the "sprint" concept.

I end up feeling obliges to watch them but deriving little pleasure from it."

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14. Posted by KKK, 19/12/2022 14:18

"And youve taken an absolute fortune in ruining the sport, as it no longer a sport as far as Media Liberty made sure its all about money. F1 , as we knew died the day Media Liberty took control"

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