Ross Brawn says he is retiring

The start of the 2014 salmon fishing season on the River Dee was celebrated on Saturday at Potarch Bridge, between Aberdeen and the royal castle at Balmoral, in Scotland. The honour of making the first cast of the season was accorded this year to Ross Brawn, once nicknamed “Maggot” by colleagues in the Williams team because of his love of fishing and the fact that he ran a bait shop in Didcot in his spare time. Brawn took this remote and unusual event to announce to the F1 world that he is not planning to return to Formula 1, having left Mercedes Benz at the end of 2013.

“It’s a fantastic honour to do the ceremonial opening of the River Dee. It’s a river I’ve never had a chance to fish before because it is predominantly known as a spring river and in the spring I’m normally trying to sort out a Formula 1 car in Spain,” he said. “February, March and April are never good months for me to go fishing – but this year is different, having stopped. What they didn’t realise when I was invited here was they had a scoop because the world’s press was trying to find out if I was retiring or not. I’m retiring – it’s not tongue in cheek. I’m going to take a year to enjoy the fishing and then see what life brings. I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve got no other plans.”

Whether Brawn might decided to un-retire himself if a suitable offer comes along is another matter. He is still only 59, but he has made a considerable fortune, not only during his time as Technical Director of Ferrari between 1997 and 2006 but, more substantially, in 2009 when he and a number of team colleagues took over the Honda F1 team for a token £1 when Honda decided to walk away from the sport. The Japanese also agreed to provide a budget to keep the team in operation, although lay-offs were necessary. They renamed the team Brawn Grand Prix and stuck a Mercedes-Benz engine in the Honda chassis and, thanks largely to an aerodynamic tweak that no-one else had thought of, were able to win the World Championship with Jenson Button.

Brawn is believed to have had a 54 percent share in the team, with Nick Fry having 31 percent and four others sharing the remaining 15 percent. A little more than six months later they were able to sell the team to Mercedes Benz for a reported £110 million, which meant that Brawn probably pocketed around £60 million. So he does not need to worry about where his next crust is coming from… nor, for the matter, do the fish.

45 thoughts on “Ross Brawn says he is retiring

  1. To be honest Ross said he was going fishing and taking time out and he seemed serious – I know he keeps his cards close to his chest but I don’t think anyone really thought he was going to go and work for Ron or Frank immediately. They can’t exactly offer him a financial incentive. He’s got more money than some of the teams. If he comes back it will only be through absolute boredom with ‘civilian’ retirement. And he does seem to love his fishing…

  2. Hope he enjoys the fishing. He’s certainly earned the break. He’ll be missed in F1…..for now at least…..Still don’t think it’ll be long before he’s back….

  3. All he really said is that he’s going fishing for a year and will then see… which isn’t quite the same thing as most folks mean by “retiring”…

  4. Great article, as always Joe, good to see that a person like him knows that there is life beyond F1 and is planning to enjoy it!!!

  5. More than being merely successful, Brawn has been inspirational and controversial, the hero and the villain, always interesting and never dull; as key to his era as Ferrari, Chapman and Tyrrell to theirs. I think F1 will be poorer without him.

    A lucrative consultancy role or two (to the FIA?), perhaps a little media work and, of course, plenty of fishing and grandfathering should provide a full and deserved retirement, assuming he can resist the offers to return to F1 that must surely come his way.

    1. That’s right. I met Ross when he was in charge of the CNC machine for Williams when they had three units in Station Road, Didcot. They were one of the first teams to machine titanium and I helped them through some issues they were having. Thus, Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd was a customer of mine for a while – happy days!

      1. What was your impression of him and his personal qualities? Did you have any inkling that he would go on to greatness?

    2. I believe at one time he drove trucks for Williams F1 and later on became in charge of the machine shop. I also recall he was involved in the aero department at the Arrows team. This was all before the Bennetton days. If he writes an autobiography, it would make fascinating reading.

  6. If you speak to him, tell him he is welcome at my beat. Sutherland, about 15 miles from Durness. Finest Salmon fishing in the world!

  7. Very strange how Honda could not find a buyer and gave the team away for 1 pound plus a budget only for the outfit to be resold for 110 million shortly thereafter. What gives? Merc couldn’t buy the team direct for tens of millions from Honda previously? The germans must have been thrilled paying that premium.

    1. Honda was under tremendous pressure to cut unnecessary costs during the financial crisis. While they did sell the team for 1 pound, had they simply shuttered the works, severances would have cost them a considerable amount. Closing would have offered little to no savings, and there were no buyers at that time.

      As for Mercedes, they only took interest once Brawn GP had the World Championship in the bag. Honda and BAR before them had been perennial under performers. The value of the team only became evident after Honda sold off to Ross. Even then, there were few potential buyers as the world’s economy was very much in the dumper. Mercedes could afford the expense out of petty cash.

  8. “…which meant that Brawn probably pocketed around £60 million”

    Don’t forget to deduct £1 million capital gains tax for HMRC, leaving £49 million for Mr. Brawn.

    1. Are you an Accountant or Lawyer by any chance? The school I went to told me 60 – 1 = 59. 😉

      Regardless, who knows what Ross actually paid in CGT. He could have used a number of ways to reduce this and lawyers/accountants would have been beating a path to his door because of the smell of the commission on a £60 million arrangement.

  9. I find it frustrating that the sport is losing a man like Ross Brawn this early; especially to the faddish structural nonsense being cited by Mercedes.

    A new Q&A with Toto Wolff on the F1.com site was not only self-serving but frankly dismissive of the value that someone like Ross Brawn brings to a team in the role of Principal.

    Red Bull must have spent the off-season agonizing over their structural deficiencies in the wake of their fourth consecutive sweep of the Championships.

  10. I also seem to remember, from an interview that he did a few years back (during the ITV days), that he has a nice garden – some beautiful roses.

  11. It’s a shame to lose him from F1, but he’s thoroughly earned the right to do whatever he wants. For the sake of the sport I hope he does decide to return one day, but until then, I hope he enjoys the fishing

  12. Pity Brawn did not leave F1 earlier, remembering some of his exploits at Benetton and Ferrari – Option 13, fiddling with the fuel hose, and traction control being just three. He merits the Tom Walkinshaw Award …

  13. While he isn’t an aerodynamicist per se, surely he could prove useful to an Americas Cup bid, Ben Ainsley should go fishing!

    1. He was an aerodynamicist at Williams and Force (Head of Aero?, if such a title existed then) so I think he qualifies as one.

        1. There;’s a video kicking around of him in the late 80s/early 90s at Williams. He’s in a mech area explaining some tooling somewhere. The overwhelming impression though is how dull his tone of voice is. Nice guy I’m sure but my word, as bland as a pensioner’s soup.

          1. Ross seems always to be the example of ‘talk softly but carry a big stick’ plus he seems to command considerable respect – remember the Nico and Lewis tussle last year – and Nico listened when Seb……….

          2. There’s a Channel 4 ‘Equinox’ programmes from 1986 called “Gentlemen, Start youe engines” which covers the veleopment of the Ford-Cosworth V6 turbo (and the preceding BDA based 4 cylinder). It has one segment in I think Cranfield wind tunnel where the BeatriceFORCEHaasLolaF1 Aerodynamicist explains the wind tunnel testing of the model car. The Aerodynamicist in question is Ross Brawn.

  14. Be nice if he could hook up with Sir Ben Ainslie and win the America’s Cup. Must be a Knighthood in that.Those boats are awesome!

  15. And I say two thumbs up to Ross . The man deserves it .. has more than earned it … and in light of what F1 is becoming … not a moment too soon IMO . See you on the rivers Mr Brawn …. and btw .. now that I’m back … the fishing in Colorado is ten times better then it was in VT … Y’all come down now 😉

  16. anyone notice that frank williams isn’t getting any younger ?
    bet frank could tempt him to come back to as replacement until claire can step up to take the reins

  17. What could any team offer a man worth more than 100 million who’s won it all many times over.

    A new team, or a team being reformed with a sizable budge might interest him, but only if he were truly in charge, and probably guaranteed a sizable equity stake. If not equity, a truly stunning pay packet.

    McLaren? Not with Ron Dennis henpecking. And Ron wouldn’t want to spend the money.
    Red Bull? Unlike Horner, Brawn wouldn’t tolerate Helmut Marko as a shadow boss. Marko would have to go, and that’s quite unlikely.
    Williams? They lack the budget for Brawn to make a competitive car, even if they gave him equity.
    Ferrari? By far, his most likely destination. The salary offered would have to be mind boggling. Would they really be willing to pay 15 to 20 million per year? Maybe.

    It won’t be shocking if Brawn is named to the top post at Ferrari in a few months time.

  18. Gonna miss Maggot but for some reason I don’t believe it will be permanent.

  19. I am not English-speaking born citizen, but the sentence in the text look like he keeps the door open for return.

    “I’m going to take a year to enjoy the fishing and then see what life brings.”.

    Once it was called sabbatical

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