Brawn GP Formula One Team, then the trading name of Brawn GP Limited, was a Formula One world championship-winning motor racing team and constructor, created by a management buyout of Honda Racing F1 Team led by Ross Brawn, but using a Mercedes engine.
The team only competed in the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship, with drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The team clinched that year's Constructors' Championship, and Button took the drivers' title. For 2010, the team again changed identity, becoming Mercedes GP.
On its racing debut, the season-opening 2009 Australian Grand Prix, the team took pole position and 2nd place in qualifying and went on to finish first and second in the race. Button won six of the first seven races of the season and on 18 October at the Brazilian Grand Prix, he secured the 2009 Drivers' Championship and the team won the Constructors' Championship. Barrichello won twice and finished third in the Drivers' Championship. The team won eight of the season's seventeen races, and by winning both titles in its only year of competition became the first to achieve a 100% championship success rate.
On 16 November 2009 it was confirmed that the team's engine supplier, Mercedes-Benz, in partnership with Aabar Investments had purchased a 75.1% stake in Brawn GP (Mercedes: 45.1%; Aabar: 30%), which was renamed Mercedes GP for the 2010 season.
Brawn GP had its origins in the Tyrrell Racing Organisation, a motorsport team founded by Ken Tyrrell in 1958 which entered cars in various single-seater championships. After entering Formula One in 1968, the Tyrrell team won the Constructors' Championship and three Drivers' Championships during the 1970s with Jackie Stewart. The team kept racing in F1 until 1998, when declining results led to Tyrrell selling the team to British American Tobacco. While BAT bought the Formula One entry, they set up the British American Racing team in a new factory in Brackley. BAR competed for six years, with a high point of finishing second in the championship in 2004. Increasing restrictions on tobacco advertisement meant Honda, BAR's engine partner, bought full control of the team at the end of 2005, and the team would be renamed Honda Racing F1.
Brawn GP was formed on 6 March 2009 when it was confirmed that Ross Brawn, the former technical director for the Honda Racing F1 Team, Ferrari and Benetton teams, had bought the team from Honda in the wake of the Japanese marque's withdrawal from the sport in December 2008. On 17 March 2009 the FIA officially agreed to the name change from Honda Racing F1 Team to Brawn GP. Although the team can be seen as a continuation of the Honda team, the FIA considered Brawn GP to be an entirely new entry, but Keith Hayes, Vice President of FIA, agreed to waive the standard entry fee in recognition of the team's circumstances.
When choosing a name for the team, a revival of the Tyrrell name was considered, as was "Pure Racing".
With the loss of Honda's engines, Brawn stated that several manufacturers offered to supply the team's engines, but it was the Mercedes-Benz engines that best fitted the car with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello comprising the driver line-up. It was also rumoured that the team would enter the 2009 season with backing from Bruno Senna, who would bring his personal sponsors to the team.
Although Honda were thought to be the first team to run a KERS in 2008, Brawn stated in an interview that owing to the circumstances of the change in ownership the team had not had the time to develop the system. On 20 March it was confirmed that Brawn GP would be allocated the final pitlane slot, with Force India moving up one slot. Bernie Ecclestone suggested that this was due to the takeover involving a name change, saying that "If [...] it was called Honda. Whatever was due to Honda, they [Brawn GP] would have got." For this reason Brawn GP were initially assigned numbers 20 and 21 after Force India were assigned Honda's old numbers of 18 and 19. This however was changed at the request of Force India because their promotional material had already been printed with numbers 20 and 21. Brawn had no objection and were reassigned numbers 22 and 23, with 18 and 19 not assigned to anyone.
The team started off strongly on the Friday practice of the Australian Grand Prix, finishing in the top five. In qualifying at Australia Jenson Button took pole, with teammate Rubens Barrichello coming second, followed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. This was followed by a race win for Button, who led from start to finish, with Barrichello second giving Brawn a 1–2 finish on their debut, which had not happened since Mercedes in the 1954 French Grand Prix.
Button won the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix from pole and picked up the fastest lap. With the win in Malaysia, Brawn GP became the only new constructor to win their first two races since Alfa Romeo won the first ever two World Championship Grands Prix at the 1950 British Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix.
At the Chinese Grand Prix Barrichello qualified in front of Button for the first time that season, but in the rain Button finished third with Barrichello 4th behind the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Button won again at the Bahrain Grand Prix from fourth on the grid with Barrichello in fifth from sixth. Button ran most of the race in clean air and maintained the lead after the Toyotas pitted and fell down the order. This was the first time they were slower, with the fuel corrected qualifying times, in the season and was blamed on the lack of development on the car.
At the Monaco Grand Prix the same qualifying results as in Spain were achieved with Button on pole. Button led Barrichello, who'd overtaken Kimi Räikkönen off the line, into the first corner with Button leading Barrichello, Räikkönen and Felipe Massa for the majority of the race. Button took Brawn's third 1–2 and his first hat trick of wins.
At the Turkish Grand Prix, the Brawns were beaten to pole by Vettel after struggling with pace throughout Friday and Saturday, for Button especially. At the start, Barrichello's anti-stall cut in and he fell to the back of the grid; Button meanwhile, after pointing the car at Vettel got off cleanly and inherited the lead at turn 10 when Vettel ran wide. Button led the race calmly for the rest of the race with his team mate having many incidents before giving Brawn their first retirement after losing seventh gear.
At the British Grand Prix, both drivers struggled in the team's home race. The car couldn't heat up the tyres enough and both drivers struggled with balance issues. Button had his worst qualifying of the season in sixth with Barrichello achieving second. In the race neither of the drivers shone and both had rather quiet races to third and sixth with Button having a late surge.
At the German Grand Prix the team suffered the same fate as in Britain as both drivers suffered with tyre temperatures. The team qualified light as to get onto the front row and qualified behind Webber in second and third, respectively. Despite leading in the first stint, Barrichello finished sixth after a faulty fuel rig ruined his race. Button ran in the low points after getting stuck behind Kovalainen and managed to overtake Barrichello to finish fifth after the team inverted their pit-stop laps to lessen his disadvantage to contenders Webber and Vettel who finished first and second respectively.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix Brawn suffered the same uncompetitiveness after experiencing their worst qualifying of the season with Button in eighth and Barrichello in thirteenth. The reason for Barrichello's underperformance was caused by his rear suspension failing resulting in a spring falling off and subsequently striking Ferrari's Felipe Massa on the helmet resulting in serious head injuries. Button too was affected by this as his car spent most of Q3 being checked to make sure the same components would not fail and ended up qualifying with much more fuel than planned. In the race neither driver showed much pace although when the temperature hit 40 °C Button was the fastest man on the track at that point. Button managed to repass Trulli through the final pit stops and finished seventh with his teammate in tenth closely behind Nakajima and Trulli.
At the European Grand Prix, Barrichello won for the first time in five years, one of the longest gaps between Grand Prix victories in Formula One history. Barrichello started third on the grid, behind the rejuvenated McLaren Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen. While Barrichello thrived, Button started 5th on the grid, and finished the race in 7th after the retirement of Sebastian Vettel from 4th.
At the Belgian Grand Prix, Button again had a dismal showing and was taken out by Romain Grosjean on the first lap. Barrichello started fourth, but again had a clutch issue at the start, but managed to work his way up to 7th, his car's engine bursting into flames as he entered the pits.
At the Italian Grand Prix, the Brawns were fuelled heavily, and started 5th (Barrichello) and sixth (Button). Both Brawns managed to make it past the heavily fuelled Kovalainen in the opening laps, and both kept up their pace to complete their final one-two of the season, Barrichello in first, Button in second.
At the Singapore Grand Prix, both drivers suffered problems in qualifying, Button failing to make it into the third session.
At the Japanese Grand Prix, Brawn had the opportunity to clinch the 2009 Constructors' Championship, however the drivers started 6th and 10th. Both drivers had reasonably successful races, eventually finishing seventh and eighth. This left Brawn just half a point from winning the Constructors' Championship. After the race, the race stewards announced they were investigating Nico Rosberg for excessive speed under safety car conditions. A typical 25-second penalty would have moved both Brawn drivers one place up and the Constructors' Championship would have been won, however it was announced later that Rosberg was in the clear and the race result would stand.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Button clinched the Drivers' Championship by finishing in fifth place, and with Barrichello finishing in 8th place Brawn also won the Constructors' Championship.
In Abu Dhabi, the final race of the season, they finished 3–4 with Button world champion and Barrichello 3rd in the championship. The team also won the 2010 Laureus World Sports Award for Team of the Year as a result of its success.
The team had a race win success rate of 47.05% (8 wins in 17 races), and by winning both titles in its only year of competition, the team is the first ever to achieve a 100% championship success rate.
On 16 November 2009 it was officially announced that Daimler AG in partnership with Aabar Investments had purchased a 75.1% stake in Brawn GP (Daimler AG: 45.1%; Aabar: 30%). Reports suggest the partnership paid £110m for the 75.1%. The team would be rebranded as Mercedes GP for 2010. The remaining 24.9% stake is Ross Brawn's in partnership with Nick Fry. The team used the Brawn GP base in Brackley for its operations and Brawn stayed on as team principal until the end of the 2013 season.
During Brawn's tenure at Mercedes, the team scored 3 poles and 3 victories. Since the departure of Ross Brawn, Formula One re-introduced turbocharged engines. Due to the groundwork laid by Ross Brawn, in addition to having technical advantages due to a highly developed power unit and rivals having restricted PU development, the team was able to completely dominate the 1st 3 seasons of the new era: securing 56 out of 59 pole positions (losing out to Felipe Massa in Austria 2014, Sebastian Vettel in Singapore 2015, and Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco 2016) and 51 victories in 59 races. Such was their domination that at least 1 car made it onto the podium at all but 3 races (both cars received accident damage in Hungary 2015; Hamilton had an engine failure in Singapore 2015 in addition to both Mercedes being unusually slower than both Ferraris and Red Bulls, and both cars crashed out on the 1st lap in the 2016 Spanish GP).
The BGP 001 was originally designed with the intention of becoming the Honda RA109. In fact, owing to the poor performance of the Honda team in 2008, the team made a relatively early start in designing the 2009 car. However, following Honda's withdrawal, development of the car continued, in the hope that the team would be somehow rescued.
Eventually, the car was appropriated by the newly formed Brawn GP team, and modified to accommodate a Mercedes-Benz engine in place of the expected Honda engine. Jenson Button performed its shakedown – the car featuring white, fluorescent chartreuse yellow and black colours. The team gave the BGP 001 its first test at Circuit de Catalunya on 9 March 2009, topping the timesheets many times. With the testing moving to Circuito de Jerez, Brawn GP continued to set the pace, finishing the test leading two of the three tests. During an interview Brawn said there was more speed to come after he explained that '...The BGP 001 car is the result of 15 months of intensive development work and the team have been nothing less than fantastic in their commitment to producing two cars in time for the first race'. At the first race an official complaint was launched by four teams against the rear diffusers of the Williams FW31, Toyota TF109 and the Brawn BGP 001 on the grounds that they did not fall within the dimensions set out in the regulations, but after analysing the cars the race stewards reported that the cars were legal. This ruling was appealed and the appeal was heard after the second race of the season. However motorsport's governing body ruled that the car was legal. There was another complaint at Malaysia after which BMW Sauber joined the appeal after they were deemed legal, again. After the appeal the diffuser was deemed legal by the FIA. In Spain, the car received its first upgrades since Australia which were mainly to do with the different cooling requirements of the Mercedes engine and gave Brawn a 1–2, just as in Melbourne.
Button used a single Brawn BGP 001 during the 2009 season, making the chassis designated "BGP 001-02" one of the most successful F1 chassis of all time (Rubens Barrichello drove the chassis "BGP 001-01" until it was damaged in a qualifying accident at the Singapore Grand Prix, after which he used "BGP 001-03" for the rest of the season). Ross Brawn retained ownership of chassis BGP 001-02, which was subsequently restored to operational condition and to the championship winning livery (following a period of the car being displayed in silver Mercedes livery) and ran up the hill at the 2016 Festival of Speed at Goodwood, UK. Jenson Button took ownership of chassis BGP 001-01 as a condition of his contract with Brawn GP in the eventuality that he won the championship, after a protracted legal battle with the subsequent team owners (Mercedes). Chassis BGP 001-03 was retained by Mercedes following their acquisition of the team.
The sponsors that were still with the Honda team at the end of the 2008 season, including Bridgestone, stayed on as sponsors for the start of the 2009 season.
On 26 March 2009, Brawn GP announced a partnership with British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd. Henri Lloyd, which became the "Official Supplier of Clothing and Footwear Technology" to Brawn GP under the deal, agreed to supply the team with clothing and footwear, with its brand appearing on the BGP 001. On 28 March 2009 Sir Richard Branson announced Virgin as a major sponsor for the team. On 17 April Brawn announced an agreement with MIG Investments, which would sport its logo on the front of the car. It was also confirmed on 19 April that Ray-Ban, a sunglasses manufacturer, would carry on sponsoring the team – its logo appears on the drivers' helmets. At the 2009 Bahrain Grand Prix Virgin sported its Virgin Galactic logo instead of Virgin. The team re-signed Endless Advance and NCE Corporation and signed a new supplier deal with safety harness supplier Willans before the Spanish Grand Prix. Only for the Spanish Grand Prix, Sony Pictures joined the team with the cars featuring promotional imagery from the film Terminator Salvation. At the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix, Google co-founder Larry Page was rumoured to be in talks with Brawn to sponsor the team in 2010. Although a guest of McLaren-Mercedes, Page is believed to want the Google name to appear on a race-winning team. However they secured a one-race sponsorship with Wuppertal. The team took up sponsorship from Graham-London before the British Grand Prix, with its logo being shown on the BGP 001s' wing mirrors, including an agreement with Menna Casting. In addition, Monster Energy added its logo to Button's helmet from Silverstone onwards. However, Richard Branson indicated that Virgin was unlikely to continue its deal next season, citing cost as a hurdle. For the 2009 European Grand Prix, agreed to drive with Virgin Active. For the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, the BGP 001 sported the Italian zipper company Raccagni logo and name on the side wings in front of the side-pods and returned Virgin Active logo.
For the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix, Brawn GP secured a single race sponsorship deal with Angfa Co. Ltd, maker of the medical shampoo Scalp-D, which has proved very popular in Japan since its launch in 2005. Also, they sported Virgin Atlantic logo.
For the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, the event in which it won the Constructors' Championship, Brawn GP had deals with Banco do Brasil and Petrópolis brewery to display its colours and beer brand Itaipava and TNT energy drink on both cars. It also had a one-race partnership with Spanish insurance company Mapfre. Also, they reshowed Virgin Galactic logo in their last 2 races.
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|2009||BGP 001||Mercedes FO 108W 2.4 V8||B||AUS||MAL||CHN||BHR||ESP||MON||TUR||GBR||GER||HUN||EUR||BEL||ITA||SIN||JPN||BRA||ABU||172||1st|
‡ Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed
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