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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 11:59 GMT
Brawn charged with reviving Honda
By Andrew Benson

Ross Brawn
Brawn is one of F1's most highly regarded technical figures
The struggling Honda team have secured a major coup by appointing former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn as their new team principal.

The Englishman, 52, was confirmed in his new role on Monday, with Nick Fry continuing as chief executive.

Brawn was the technical mastermind behind Ferrari's unprecedented success in the first half of this decade.

Brawn said: "The opportunity to help the team to realise its potential represents a fantastic new challenge."

Brawn will be expected to turn Honda from underachievers into a major force.

"The team has already done a great job of giving due consideration to its future and has spent a good deal of time putting in place both people and first class engineering resources to achieve its ambitions," he said.

Fry described Brawn's appointment as "a very satisfying conclusion to the process of refreshing and revitalising a strong and determined team.

"His experience of winning world championships in F1 will be crucial as we seek to put Honda back into championship contention," he added.

It is Brawn's first role as team principal, but few inside F1 will doubt he will be a success in the position - as long as Honda's management in Japan allow him free rein to run the team.

Brawn joins at the end of the worst season in Honda's modern history.

The team produced one of the most uncompetitive cars on the grid this season, with Jenson Button managing only six points and the veteran former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello failing to score any at all.

That was despite Button giving the team their first win of the modern era in Hungary in 2006.

Brawn joining the team will be a huge reassurance to Button, who said at the weekend he would not tolerate another season of underachievement.

"The car was a complete dog, and I'm just not interested in racing like this any more," Button said.

"I'd love to win the title with Honda but I've got to start winning, and if I don't then I have to be ruthless."

Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn
Brawn became synonymous with Schumacher's success
However, Brawn will not be able to turn the team around overnight.

Next year's Honda car has already been designed, and he will be focusing his initial efforts on reorganising the team to ensure it is competitive in 2009.

Nevertheless, it is to be expected that his impact will begin to be felt as the 2008 season progresses.

Brawn is hugely highly rated in F1, where he became synonymous with Michael Schumacher.

The two were together at Benetton in the early 1990s, winning back-to-back world titles in 1994 and 1995, before both moved to Ferrari in 1996.

Their arrival marked a dramatic upturn in the Italian team's fortunes, turning them into world beaters after years in the doldrums.

Schumacher finally ended Ferrari's 21-year run without a drivers' title in 2000, the first of five championships in a row.

Brawn took a sabbatical from F1 following Schumacher's retirement at the end of 2006, and has been in demand by Red Bull and Toyota as well as Honda.

Fry is rumoured to have been chasing Brawn since last spring, but Ferrari had first call on his services.

Brawn began talks with his former team in the summer but he was unable to agree a deal to become their team principal.

Now those negotiations have failed, he has decided to take on a challenge that will be at least the equal of that he undertook at Ferrari - and Honda will hope he is able to have a similar effect on them.

Honda announced that Shuhei Nakamoto, whose controversial appointment as senior technical director led to the departure of the respected Geoff Willis in 2006, will move to a new role.

Nakamoto will become deputy managing director (technical), reporting to Brawn, and charged with ensuring the F1 team "gains maximum benefit from Honda's research and development operation in Tochigi [in Japan]".

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