Brawn’s response to Mercedes’ aero handicap opposition

Jamie Woodhouse

Ross Brawn's cheeky response to Mercedes' initial opposition to R&D handicap.

F1 managing director Ross Brawn was amused by Mercedes’ opposition to the new aero rules from 2021, they presumed they were always going to win.

The idea of having reverse-grid sprint races at venues which are set to host two rounds in 2020 was put on the table recently, and though nine teams approved, Mercedes’ rejection meant it couldn’t happen.

But one performance ballast that will come into force from next year is new limitations on the amount of time that teams can spend developing their cars in the wind tunnel.

In the first year, that being 2021, the allocation will range from 90% of the available time for the Constructors’ Champion, down to 112.5% for the team that finishes last.

From the following year the scale will shift and 70% will be allotted to the top team and the last-placed outfit will receive 115% of the time.

The same culprit were opposed to this idea originally, and Brawn had the perfect response for his former team.

Speaking to, he said: “It was amusing really in the sense that one of the Mercedes people was complaining to me about it, and I said, ‘You’re assuming that you’re always going to win’.

“Just think for a moment, you’re second or third, wouldn’t you like a bit of assistance?’

“And it suddenly dawned on him that if they didn’t win, this would be quite useful.”

Brawn says this aero handicap is a “gentle correction” for the teams, rather than a “success ballast” like reverse-grid races.

“I’m pleased with it, because I think it’s a gentle correction,” he said.

“It still maintains the meritocracy, you’ve still got to go out on the track and win the race.

“We’re not doing anything to handicap the driver when he’s out on the track – it’s not success ballast.

“It’s rather like the NFL with the draft, where the least successful teams get the greatest opportunity initially, but they still have to deliver. It’s not like they have points given to them.

“I think it’s an opportunity and an encouragement for the smaller teams. If you consider the very real situation of somebody investing in Williams, Williams can now quite legitimately say we have this opportunity in the future to get off the back of the grid.

“That’s a nice incentive. I think it will have a gentle effect on correcting the competitiveness of the field, without distorting it.”

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