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Ross Brawn: F1 must be viable for smaller teams

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Ross Brawn Interview Part 1 (9:58)

Jennie Gow sits down with Ross Brawn in the first half of our interview with the former Mercedes and Brawn GP team principle to discuss Bernie, his new book and Michael Schumacher. (9:58)

Ross Brawn thinks Formula One must work to ensure its financial model is viable for the smallest teams on the grid.

Last week, Manor fell into administration after failing to secure new investors ahead of the new campaign. In recent years several of F1's smallest teams have pushed for a budget cap in a bid to level the playing field.

Brawn thinks it would be in F1's best interests to create more even playing field for all teams as it would create an element of unpredictability for fans.

Asked what F1 could do to help smaller teams, Brawn told ESPN: "Well, that's an interesting point, because I think that should be one of the objectives. One of the objectives should be looking at what can be done to reduce the margin between a small team and a big team. And can things be done to reduce the performance gain that comes from the level of investment the big teams can make.

"How can you level that? I think it's an interesting reference point for F1 to make small teams viable and make them reasonably competitive so they can pull the odd result out of the bag -- it makes it exciting."

However, Brawn feels finances will always play a role in success in Formula One, and feels his team's famous title success in 2009 -- done after Honda's sudden withdrawal from the sport -- is an unfairly portrayed as a team winning despite having no money.

"I don't think you are ever going to see a Leicester City [winning the 2015/2016 Premier League] in Formula One, although I know people compare Brawn GP with that, but Brawn GP was an anomaly because it had all the Honda funding in the years before and they stepped off and it carried on with the inertia of Honda. If it had always been the size of team that it was, it would never have got where it did.

"So Brawn GP is not a good example, but I think it's a worthwhile objective to make sure the model for a small team is viable. It can be economically viable and it can be a good environment for young drivers to come into the sport without having millions of pounds behind them. If we can create that then you get a much healthier flow of young drivers because it is a meritocracy based on their talent and not their commercial backing.

"Small teams depend so much on commercial backing for their drivers that it influences the decisions they have to make on their drivers. I think that's another element of a healthy Formula One, to make the small teams viable."

F1's payment structure has been a source of criticism in recent years and prompted Sauber and Force India to lodge a complaint with the European Union in 2015. Ahead of last season, Manor received £47 million, a huge difference to the £192 million Ferrari received (based on prize money and its historical payment).

Despite being a controversial subject, Brawn thinks Ferrari's historical payment is well deserved.

"They make a lot of effort to get that money, it's not given to them without effort ... Ferrari has been the longest supporter of Formula One and have the longest history. I think everyone would recognise they have the biggest brand in Formula One. They are the most recognised team in Formula One and they are important to the whole image and circus of F1, so naturally they benefit from that position they hold. It might be galling to some people, but that's the reality."

Interview conducted by Jennie Gow