27 February 2013
Brawn positive about 'incredibly quick' Hamilton
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is only just getting to know his new driver signing Lewis Hamilton, but he's certainly liking what he's seeing.
Ross Brawn had a major headache in the middle of 2012 when it became clear that Michael Schumacher was finally going to retire for a second time and step away from racing for good. How do you follow a tough act like a seven time world champion? For Brawn, there was only one answer: Lewis Hamilton.
"The very top drivers rarely become available - it is not like having a list and you can tick off the qualities that you are looking for," explained Brawn of how he had arrived at his selection. "They all have strengths and weaknesses like everybody does in our business.
"Lewis is a fantastic driver from a speed, competitiveness and racing perspective," Brawn told the official Formula 1 website. "He is an incredibly quick driver. He is very passionate about the sport and what he does. He has all the attributes you need to be a world champion - he's proven that.
"We know all these things as you can see them from the outside," Brawn pointed out. "What you don't get unless you work with somebody from the inside is the chemistry - the relationships they need to build - and we've started that journey.
"We have to learn to work together on an engineering and development side. I must say that the short period he has been with us has been very positive, and there is no doubt that he is now a part of our team," he added, sounding very happy with how things were coming together so far in 2013. "It's something very positive at the moment and I hope it stays positive for a very long time."
Brawn wouldn't be drawn further on the fluid situation at Mercedes following the news that McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is all-but certain to be moving to Brackley next season. In any case, he pointed out that Mercedes could no longer say that it was waiting until 2014 or later for success.
"One thing is clear: we can't approach 2013 saying, 'Well Lewis is here for the long term; we said that we're doing 2014 properly so we don't need to worry about 2013.' We worry and are putting a lot of effort in 2013 because we want to do the maximum that we can."
The 2013 campaign could have got off to a better start, however, with the new F1 W04 having some early problems in the first pre-season test at Jerez.
"We had some new car reliability issues, it doesn't appear to be anything fundamental," conceded Brawn. "Of course the first couple of days were very disappointing. but what was encouraging in that situation was Lewis's attitude and approach. He was very mature and he understands these complex engineering processes."
So all appears well between the current team principal and the new race driver, even if Brawn's own future isn't as certain as they might both prefer. It would be especially unfortunate if Brawn were to exit the team now given that 2014 will see a raft of technical rule changes for the sport, a situation that Brawn has excelled in exploiting before when he used innovation to propel Brawn GP and Jenson Button to world championships in 2009.
"2014 is going to be a massive opportunity for the team that gets it right; of course, we try to use these opportunities," Brawn said. "I have a feeling that this time around everybody has recognised, a) what an opportunity it is, and b) what a challenge it is going to be."
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