Ross Brawn has urged his former Formula 1 employers Ferrari to 'have a slightly different mindset' amidst the current global credit crunch and the FIA to 'help' the Scuderia
through the dramatic cost-reduction phase that the top flight is facing – suggesting it would be the sport's loss should its most loyal and long-standing entrant walk away over the budget cap stalemate.
Ferrari has vowed to end six decades of uninterrupted participation at the highest level if FIA President Max Mosley insists on pressing ahead with his controversial initiative, one that has divided the teams, with some fearing a 'two-tier' championship of haves and have-nots and others claiming it will be simply impossible for the major manufacturers to sufficiently cut their expenditure – with some presently spending as much as £200 million a year – down to just £40 million in time for next season.
Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull are all adamant that they will pull out should no compromise be found as the governing body and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) continue to hold crisis talks in Monaco this weekend. The former has even gone so far as to resort to legal action in its bid to crush the cap, and Brawn – who was employed as technical director by the Maranello-based outfit from 1996 to 2006, over that period helping to guide the legendary Michael Schumacher to five of his seven drivers' crowns – suggests just a little bit of leeway from both sides could end up going a long way.
“I don't think it's great for the sport; I don't think it's great for Ferrari,” the Englishman told CNN
, whilst alluding to 'reasonably productive' discussions with the FIA thus far. “You just have to have a slightly different mindset, and I think the world's like that now – we're going through a difficult economic period, and I think you can still get the things you want out of Formula 1 for less investment.
“I think Ferrari just need to be helped through that phase and understand how they can get all the things they want out of F1 for a lot less money than perhaps they've been used to spending in the past. We need to find ways of making it viable for new teams to come into F1 – maybe not winning races, but looking respectable – and filling those empty grid spots.”
Brawn's own eponymously-named outfit, Brawn GP – risen from the ashes of what was Honda – looked to be in danger of leaving a further two 'empty grid spots' in 2009 after the Japanese parent company suddenly and unexpectedly pulled the plug on its involvement late last year in response to falling international car sales resulting from the recession and poor on-track return for its considerable investment in the sport.
With Brawn having led an eleventh-hour management buy-out in company with team CEO Nick Fry, however, the Brackley-based concern has gone on to stun the grand prix paddock in sweeping the opposition over the early stages of the new campaign, with Jenson Button triumphing in no fewer than four of the opening five races and carrying a 14-point lead over team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the drivers' world championship standings heading into the prestigious and glamorous Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, a race the British star is also tipped to win.
“We really didn't know if this team was going to survive,” confessed Fry, “so to have survived and then come out the other side with the results we're getting now is just fantastic. He (Button) has been driving fantastically well this year, [with] some great overtaking manoeuvres and some great laps, which have not always been quite so apparent but certain times in a race we've said to him 'you need to produce a lap time now to make the strategy work to make the race yours' – and he's done it.”