STRATEGIC DOUBLE ACT
The bedrock of strategic flexibility is
having the package to make it work: most
of the race-winning moves that Ross
Brawn made with Michael Schumacher
and a Benetton or a Ferrari would not
have worked if it was Yuji Ide in a Super
Aguri at the other end of the radio.
And it’s been that way right through
racing’s history. Alfred Neubauer started
every weekend with a couple of aces in
his hand because he had Mercedes
machinery at his disposal, plus Rudi
t’s impossible not to think of Michael
Schumacher’s glory years without
imagining a stubble-cheeked Ross Brawn
hunched forward on pitwall, formulating
some plan that will culminate in his driver
spraying the victory champagne.
Even then, Brawn was lauded as the
strategic mastermind behind many of
Schumacher’s successes, not least being
seven Formula 1 World Championships,
two with Benetton and five with Ferrari.
But just as the seeds for many of
Schumacher’s greatest moments were
GAMEPLANS OF YESTERYEAR
THERE’S NO “I” IN STRATEGY
RACING’S STRATEGY PIONEERS
Rolling the strategy dice seems less of a gamble when
you have the world’s best Formula 1 driver in your corner.
seemed to operate just barely within
the boundaries of what was possible.
When both were at the top of their
game, such as the 1998 Hungarian GP,
they could make a win seem like a heist
(see right). But for every moment like
that, there were others where their
combined brilliance was more subtle.
The 2000 driver’s championship –
Schumacher’s first with Ferrari – was
secured in part by he and Brawn working
to outsmart rival Mika Hakkinen at Imola
and Suzuka, races where the Finn’s
McLaren team probably had the faster car.
Boiled down, it sounds almost too
simple: Ferrari fueled Schumacher for a
slightly longer middle stint than his rival,
and then sandbagged to hide it.
“Michael paced himself beautifully, so
as not to alert Hakkinen too much,”
Brawn recalled at the time.
As soon as Hakkinen made his final
stop, Schumacher turned the wick up for
a few extra laps, and emerged from his
own stop well clear of the Finn. Mission
accomplished – but one that few other
driver/strategist partnerships could have
pulled off to such effect.
The famed pre- and
use of pit-to-car
Some of his
as pit boards, are
still in use today.
Caracciola, Juan Manuel Fangio or
Stirling Moss ready to drive them. It was
the same for Colin Chapman when he had
Jim Clark sitting in a sleek Lotus, or John
Wyer with Pedro Rodriguez planting the
throttle in a Porsche 917.
The trick was knowing how to capitalize
on the advantage. Neubauer pioneered
many fundamentals of strategy as we
know them today, like pit boards.
Chapman, on the other hand, knew that
Clark was best left to his own devices.
paced himself beautifully
so as not to alert [Mika]
Hakkinen too much”
sown by Brawn’s out-of-the-box thinking,
it’s equally true that some of these
schemes would never have worked –
would never have been attempted – was
Brawn not confident in the sublime
abilities of a driver who, at his best,