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Brawn confirms Fry will stay as CEO

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Brawn confirms Fry will stay as CEO
Mar 10, 2009, 1:53 PM

Ross Brawn has faced the media for the first time as a team owner today at Barcelona.

Ross Brawn has faced the media for the first time as a team owner today at Barcelona.

He spoke for around 20 minutes about his new life as a team owner, the performance of the new car, his plans for the future and the decision not to hire Bruno Senna.

ross-b-thumb2

The most significant comments he made regarded the former Honda CEO Nick Fry. Stories emanating from Japan were that Honda did not want Fry to be part of the management buyout. Perhaps the way around this is that he has not taken a stake in the team, which apparently is 100% owned by Brawn. But either way, Brawn confirmed today that Fry will continue in his role:

"Nick has been a key member of the team, he retains his position as CEO and his position hasn't changed, despite the speculation. He's been a vital part of putting this all together."

On the decision to retain the same drivers as last year he said: "With Jenson we had a commitment from last year and we wanted to respect it, he was always an automatic choice if the team carried on. I was impressed with Bruno (Senna) I thought he did a great job in testing, but just the lack of testing and the challenge we are going to face make Rubens the preferred choice. We have very little testing and no testing during the season. Rubens has still got a huge amount left in him. It was a need to have Rubens' experience and his speed, because I think he's still very quick. We made no commitments to Bruno, circumstances went against him."

Brawn took a sabbatical in 2007 and it's a good job he did, because the stress of the last few months has been huge, as he admitted,

"It's been stressful for the management, if we hadn't stayed together as a group it would have been very difficult to achieve, because there were some very black days in trying to keep this team alive. But I'm glad to say here we are and we are going to Melbourne.

"If I'm frank there were no choices. Because if the management group hadn't taken this task on all of the team would have been made redundant. Things can go wrong, but we are optimistic, but if we can capitalise on the performance of the car, and the car looks good, then the team has a future."

"This is a medium term solution and we need to find a solution for the long term. We are comfortable for the season. We need to find partners and sponsors to support the team. We need to be flexible on what we do but we will have proper structure going forward." He said that does not necessarily need to find a buyer long term, but that he does need to find a long term solution.

Ross, like Button, seems delighted with the initial performance of the car. It is fast and has none of the built in horrors of last year's model.

"We have a good car, it's well balanced, braking is much better than last year, the consistency in the corners is much better. The issue will be building in reliability. It will be a big challenge, but the fact that we are there is the major achievement. It's essential that we display performance throughout the year and I see no reason why we can't The guys are already working on an upgrade for Barcelona, it's in the wind tunnel at the moment."

"If you look at the car, the way the Mercedes engine fits in looks like it was designed around it. There are some things which aren't quite right and we wouldn't do that way if we started with the engine, but the number of compromises is small. The gearbox is our own, we converted it to mount on the Mercedes engine because we wanted to carry all the rear suspension over."

The last point is a question of how the rear suspension is mounted on the car and it would have required a rear suspension redesign to use a McLaren Mercedes gearbox. One wasn't available or offered in any case. Also they are not using KERS.

"We don't have KERS, it may be something for later in the season, but with the time available quite frankly we have not considered KERS."

Brawn acknowledged that he will have to lay off some of the 700 staff,

"The majority will continue with the team. It's fair to say we have to look at the size of the team because we've gone from being a manufacturer to being a privateer. It's not going to be an easy process but I think everyone understands the situation and the team survives and will give a career to many people."

Ross refused to comment on the final question and you can hardly blame him. Asked how he would feel about being ahead of the works Mercedes team in Melbourne, as it looks like he might be, he diplomatically ducked the question.

But he's off and running and if ever there was a man who can make things happen in F1, it's Ross Brawn.
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