What we can all learn from Brawn and Button

Somewhere back in the archives on this blog you will find an account of my visit to the Honda F1 factory earlier this year, which was absolutely fascinating, not least in hearing how the latest advancements in F1 technology were being shared with other industrial sectors, e.g. defence, aviation. I had lunch with Ross Brawn and also got to see Jenson Button’s car, which was just about to be flown out for pre-season testing somewhere in Europe, can’t remember where. And apart from meeting Ross Brawn, I also got to chat with people working on the car at every stage, from apprentices to computer buffs.

That was on the Monday. By Thursday we had the news that Honda were pulling out of F1. Devastating news for all who worked at Honda F1…. And now of course, the rest is history. Brawn stepped in, saved the team, and resurrected it under his own name. Jenson apparently took a £5 million pay cut and paid for his own expenses for each grand prix. With a combination of an incredibly fast car (at least in the early races), Brawn the master tactician, and some spectacular driving, Jenson Button is now world champion.

The thing I love about this parable is that it demonstrates loyalty to the team, at every level, from Brawn and Button (who had already turned down offers from four other teams to stick with Honda) and from everyone involved. F1 is a team sport, not an individual endeavour, and in the best teams people don’t abandon ship when the going gets tough. They get stuck in, they pull out all the stops, they fight to save what they know is worth saving. As I said, it’s a parable….

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