Brawn F1 show how to drive out of the recession

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Brawn F1, the racing team that rose from the ashes of Honda, scored an amazing 1-2 win in the 1st grand prix of the year in Melbourne with drivers Jenson Button and Rbens Barrichello. This is the first time since 1977 a new team has done this. And from this story there are some interesting ideas about how to lead brands out of the recession (even if you think F1 is a snore-fest!).

1. Panic doesn't pay:
Honda spent an estimated $1billion on creating and managing a Formula 1 team. But by the end of the 2008 season they had little in the way of success for this massive investment. As the recession started to bite, they hit the panic button on December 5th last year, and announced they were pulling the plug. They put the team up for sale, worried that this big sports sponsorship looked extravagant.

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This was despite having hired at the end of 2007 the sport's hottest technical director, Ross Brawn. He told the team to write off 2008, and focus on getting a great car for 2009… and this work was close to fruition.

In the end, Honda sold the team to Brawn for a nominal £1 on March 6th 2009. Whoops. 23 days later and Button was driving home first.

2. Sausage is the key
The success of Brawn cars is down to clever product innovation. In other words, a better sausage. The cars have a clever new diffuser on the read of the car that helps it stick to the track better.
[only cloud on the horizon is that, not surprisingly, the other pissed off teams have challenged this new bit of sausage as being illegal]

3. Keep investing, and get bang for your buck
We posted before on how P&G are keeping the same spend, but getting more their money. Be agile and brave, and there are some real bargains to be had. And boy has Richard Branson done this in spades. For a knock-down sum, estimated at £200,000, he became the only sponsor of Brawn F1. He left his family holiday the week before the race to personally sign the deal in Melbourne.

And then, bingo bongo, he goes from nothing to the sponsor of the winning team!

4. Now is when you need your self-belief
The story of the winning driver, Jenson Button, is a bit of a fairy tale in itself. To give you an idea, this was only his 2nd win in 174 attempts. As of a couple of months ago he was out of a job, and heading for the scrap heap. Now he's on the podium. Goes to show that its in today's dark times that you need your self-belief and stamina, not when things are booming.

5. Cut costs

The joy of winning the grand prix was dampened to say the least by an announcement last week that the Brawn F1 team were having to sack 270 people. However, in the tough times and without a rich backer like Honda, this is painful but necessary for survival.