The story of Brawn Grand Prix’s fairytale season in System 1 in 2009 is among the most unbelievable and heart-warming in F1 historical past. And talking on System 1’s Beyond The Grid podcast, a number of members of the Brawn squad – who stayed on because the staff morphed into the all-conquering Mercedes works outfit – recalled what it was prefer to reside by that whirlwind 2009 season.
The Brawn GP BGP 001 machine was born underneath a foul signal, when the plan to area the automotive because the 2009 Honda works automotive went up in smoke when the Japanese producer pulled out of F1 on the finish of 2008 – with round 300 of the staff’s staff made redundant, leaving the potential for racing the automotive in any respect in 2009 hanging within the steadiness.
Present System 1 Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn and Nick Fry would in the end step in to avoid wasting the staff, whereas arranging a deal to run Mercedes engines within the automotive for 2009. However with work having begun on what turned the BGP 001 halfway by 2008 – and with Honda having exploited a loophole within the new laws that will permit them to run the controversial ‘double diffuser’, regardless of makes an attempt by the FIA to cut back downforce – it quickly turned clear that the Brawn automotive was a little bit of a monster…
“We knew it will be an honest automotive as a result of we put a lot effort into it, and we began so early,” remembers Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ present trackside engineering director, who spent the 2009 season as eventual champion Jenson Button’s race engineer. “The 12 months earlier than at Hockenheim, which was about mid-season, was the purpose the place we stated, ‘Proper, we’re simply going to neglect about 2008 and we’ll concentrate on the brand new guidelines in 2009.’
“However actually, the one time we began to suppose this was correctly fast was after we didn’t go testing and everybody else was at a take a look at… in Portimao. There was a  Toro Rosso there and it… was the quickest factor by miles, and… we had just about recovered all of the efficiency and [were estimating that we] could be as quick with our automotive.
“So that you have been kind of going… ‘Effectively dangle on a minute, which means that we’re almost two seconds faster than anybody else’ – and then you definitely suppose that we will need to have obtained our sums fallacious… However nothing ready you for once you began working it in Barcelona, and also you have been like, ‘Oh my God, this seems correctly quick.’”
Brawn GP could have been saved from the brink, earlier than utilizing their dominant early season kind – together with a one-two end of their first ever race, the 2009 Australian Grand Prix – to miraculously win that 12 months’s drivers’ and constructors’ titles. However in line with Ron Meadows, now Mercedes’ sporting director, the staff solely made it by the season due to a hand-to-mouth existence – together with the usage of freelance pit crew members…
“We had a one-two [in Melbourne] and we definitely didn’t deserve a one-two as a result of I believe we have been first and fourth as a result of we had two surprising pit stops… however Seb [Vettel] and [Robert] Kubica hit one another in the previous few laps,” Meadows recalled.
“The problem we had was refuelling: our regular refueller from earlier years had left the staff as a part of the redundancies. We needed to maintain him, however he determined he needed to go and be a plumber.
“So we obtained by Melbourne and realised we would have liked to make some modifications. So I referred to as him and he got here alongside as a weekend warrior. He’d fly in Saturday evening to do the gasoline for a day charge, then straight after the race, he’d go residence to do his plumbing job for a fortnight after which come again once more.”
“It was fairly good worth, as a result of it knocked about eight seconds off the pit stops!” added Shovlin.
Additionally showing on Beyond The Grid was James Vowles, chief strategist for the staff in 2009, and now in the identical function with Mercedes, who concluded: “That 12 months… it actually had a lifetime of recollections. Each race had one thing… every race had its personal distinctive set of recollections which can be embedded in all of us without end, and it received’t change. And people emotions are extraordinary by comparability to most issues.”
F1 Vault: Brawn GP’s fairytale begin to 2009