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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 07:47 GMT
Ferrari 'can win without Schumi'
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Kimi Raikkonen in the new Ferrari in testing at Bahrain
Ferrari's new car has looked good in pre-season testing
Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn says the team can remain Formula One pace-setters despite his departure and that of Michael Schumacher.

Brawn, on a year's sabbatical, told BBC Sport he expected Ferrari to be title contenders with drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa this year.

"We had good and bad years when I was there. You can't always be in front.

"But the people who design the car are still there, so there's no reason why they can't just carry on," Brawn said.

He said he was confident the team would not fall back into the political in-fighting that bedevilled it in the pre-Schumacher era.

606: DEBATE

"It's down to how the individuals work," said Brawn, who was centrally involved in preparing the team for his departure.

"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.

"The car looks quite good, so if the results flow that will instil confidence."

Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher
Ferrari enter a new era with the loss of Brawn and Schumacher
Raikkonen has a lot to live up to after joining the team from McLaren as a replacement for Schumacher.

And former world champion Damon Hill has questioned whether Ferrari will be able to adapt to working with such a different personality.

"A bit of fizz has gone out of the team without Michael there," the 1996 world champion told BBC Sport. "I think they will be disoriented without Michael.

"Michael was very good at working the team, and I'm not sure Kimi is that kind of personality.

"He seems to be more the sort of person who just gets in the car and drives - if it's fast, it's fast, and if it's not there's nothing more he can do about it."

But Brawn, who has talked only to the BBC since leaving Ferrari at the end of last season, believes the Finn will prove a good choice.

"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," said the Englishman.

"He's probably not as forthright as Michael was when he joined Ferrari, but Michael was a double world champion.

Ross Brawn
Michael still had Felipe very much under control by the end of the season - but Felipe has progressed an enormous amount

Ross Brawn
"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.

"It will [require a cultural shift]. But he has strong people around him. The key thing about Kimi is that he is quick, and he makes very few mistakes.

"It can be quite exciting for the team. It's a new challenge and that can be quite stimulating."

Ferrari team boss Jean Todt has always said that Raikkonen was the only driver considered as a replacement for Schumacher.

But Brawn admitted that they had also looked at double world champion Fernando Alonso, who has moved from Renault to McLaren.

"There were only ever two drivers considered to replace Michael - Kimi and Alonso. Everything just fell in place very quickly with Kimi," Brawn said.

Kimi Raikkonen
Raikkonen has big shoes to fill as Schumacher's replacement
"We took the view that the team was strong enough, and that speed was the most important thing. It was really between the two - and one was available and one wasn't at the time.

"You have to remember as well that Jean has got a long history with Scandinavian drivers from his time in rallying, and he likes their introverted, quiet approach.

"Alonso would also have done a great job, I'm sure. 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 insisted that Raikkonen would have to fight for preference at Ferrari on an equal basis with Massa.

"Michael established his superiority through the natural order of things, by being the fastest," he said. "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.

Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen
Massa and Raikkonen will fight it out for preferred status

"And that's what will happen at Ferrari this season - 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."

Brawn left Ferrari at the end of last season to take a break from the sport, and is spending time travelling around the world.

He said he had a meeting with the team planned for June to discuss his future, but that he had made no decisions about what that might involve, although he admitted he was likely to want to stay involved in F1.

SEE ALSO
F1 form guide
13 Mar 07 |  Formula One
Brawn mulls new role at Ferrari
19 Feb 07 |  Formula One
Villeneuve has Raikkonen doubts
19 Feb 07 |  Formula One
Briatore dismisses McLaren hopes
03 Jan 07 |  Formula One
Brawn quits in Ferrari reshuffle
26 Oct 06 |  Formula One


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