“We had good and bad years when I was there,” Brawn explained. “You can’t always be at the front. But the people who design the car are still there, so there’s no reason why they can’t just carry on. It’s down to how the individuals work. We were, in the period I was there, able to implement and instil certain philosophies and all the people involved are still mindful of that and will instil them into the team. They are all very sensible people.
“Ferrari is very strongly in the focus of the media and it can be very difficult not to be distracted by some of the things that are said. But you just have to have the strength and conviction in what you’re doing and see it through.”
Talking of Kimi Raikkonen, who is stepping into the void left by Michael Schumacher, Brawn said, “I don’t know Kimi. I’ve never worked with him and until you have worked with someone it is difficult to judge what they’re like. He’s probably not as forthright as Michael was when he joined Ferrari, but Michael was a double world champion.
“They are different people. Kimi is a quieter person. But the thing to do with people like that is to listen very carefully to them because they often have an awful lot to say, you just have to give them a chance to say it. He has strong people around him. The key thing about Kimi is that he is quick, and he makes very few mistakes.”
Brawn admits that he felt there were only two people who could logically replace Michael Schumacher. “There were only ever two drivers considered to replace Michael – Kimi and Alonso,” he says. “Everything just fell in place very quickly with Kimi. You have to remember as well that Jean has got a long history with Scandinavian drivers from his time in rallying – he likes their introverted, quiet approach.
“Alonso would also have done a great job, I’m sure,” he added. “I don’t think there’s that much between the two of them. Alonso has won two world championships and has shown he can do it. But the reasons why Kimi hasn’t are not down to him.”
Brawn also went on to explain the lead driver spot that Massa and Raikkonen will be fighting over. Michael established his superiority through the natural order of things, by being the fastest. It was never written into his contract that I was aware of. The only thing there was, he had first call on the T-car.
“That’s what will happen at Ferrari this season,” he continued, “a natural order will evolve. Michael still had Felipe very much under control by the end of the season. But Felipe has progressed an enormous amount and if he keeps up that rate of progress he’ll be a massive competitor in F1 in the future. It’s just a question of whether he does.”