26 October 2009
Ecclestone: Ross Brawn deserves to be knighted
F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and former BBC commentator Murray Walker are unanimous in their conviction that the achievement of Brawn GP boss Ross Brawn in 2009 merits a knighthood
Two of the most respected and longest-standing figures in the grand prix paddock have called for Ross Brawn to be knighted, for the way in which the Englishman has turned a nightmare into a fairytale with F1 World Championship glory in 2009.
Jenson Button's fifth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos just over a week ago secured the British star the drivers' crown at the end of his tenth campaign at the highest level, whilst Brawn GP similarly wrapped up the constructors' laurels with a race to spare, meaning the pressure is off heading to Abu Dhabi for the season finale this coming weekend, the first time the sport will have competitively visited the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The pressure, though, was most certainly on Brawn when Honda suddenly and unexpectedly pulled the plug on its F1 project just under twelve months ago, plunging the future of its Brackley-based operation and the 750-strong workforce there into serious doubt. For much of the winter, indeed, it looked as if it would be curtains for the consistently underperforming outfit, but an eleventh hour management buyout led by Brawn and CEO Nick Fry – allied to the vital support of engine-supplier Mercedes-Benz and the unstinting hard work and commitment of all back at the factory – saw the two BGP 001s of Button and Rubens Barrichello on the grid for the opening grand prix Down Under in Melbourne back in March.
Even then, however, many questioned just how genuine the team's scintillating pre-season testing form had actually been, and when Button and Barrichello sped to a commanding one-two in the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, the naysayers predicted that once the double-diffuser row had been settled, the dominance wouldn't – couldn't, indeed – last. Seven further grand prix victories and two titles later, those cynics have been forced to eat their words.
Having masterminded all seven of the record-breaking Michael Schumacher's world championship successes at first Benetton and then Ferrari, Brawn's latest achievement is being hailed as his finest yet – leading influential F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and much-loved former BBC and ITV-F1 commentator Murray Walker to suggest that the Queen might like to make the 54-year-old 'Sir Ross Brawn'.
“Royal recognition is all too rare in our sport,” mused Ecclestone – who over the weekend conversely accused the Brawn GP management of 'arrogance' in its reluctance to award Button a more attractive pay packet for 2010 – speaking to British newspaper the Sunday Express, “but it would be well-deserved if offered to the right man – and to honour Ross it would be only right and proper.”
“I believe 100 per cent that Ross should be honoured with a knighthood,” concurred Walker.
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