May 16, 2017 / 3:21 PM / 3 months ago

Interview: Brawn willing to work with MotoGP on F1 calendar

Formula One - F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai, China - 6/4/17 - Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn walks at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.Aly Song

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One has sounded out MotoGP for cooperation and advice as the sport embarks on a period of change under new owners Liberty Media.

Ross Brawn, the former Ferrari technical director who has run three teams and is now Formula One's managing director for motorsport, said he was open to learning lessons from any other series.

The Briton told Reuters that he and Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of MotoGP rights holders Dorna, had discussed "areas of cooperation and how we can learn from what each of us does" at last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

On a basic level, that means working to limit a clash of calendars.

The first two rounds of this year's Formula One and MotoGP championships were on the same weekends, and six more will clash later in the year.

They include MotoGP's final round in Valencia on Nov. 12, the same day as Formula One's Brazilian Grand Prix -- both title-deciders in the past.

Brawn said such clashes were "not smart".

"We’re not too proud to consult with other championships and work out the best way forward," he said, speaking in Formula One Management's new paddock hospitality at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"It's difficult to juggle dates, and you can’t always achieve what you want, but at least we’re having a dialogue to try and work it out."

There were other areas where Formula One could learn lessons, he added.

"I like the meritocracy that they have between Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. I like the progression that they have.

"I think it’s interesting looking at the commercial side, the way they structure the teams and the deals and the way it works for the customer teams. I think it’s an interesting element."

BEST DRIVERS

He said the way in which MotoGP's junior series formed part of the same race weekend was also "a great example of where we should be", with talent rising to the top and a clear career progression that fans could easily follow.

Formula One drivers enter the sport from various series and some are chosen by cash-strapped teams more for their financial contribution than talent alone.

"We should have the 22 or 24 best drivers in the world in Formula One," said Brawn. "There are commercial considerations... which means we don’t always achieve that.

"It’s a complex problem because you have to put the teams in a position where they don’t have to make those commercial decisions, they just make the decision based on the strongest drivers they can find."

A fairer distribution of revenues among teams, deciding what kind of future engine the sport should have and building cars that allow closer racing are all big long-term items in Brawn's in-tray.

None offer quick solutions, with existing team contracts running to 2020, and the immediate emphasis is putting the people in place to analyse and assess and come up with substantial arguments.

Brawn said he was "reasonably happy" with progress.

"There’s not going to be a revolution in Formula One where suddenly we come up with a big change and everything gets better. It’s going to be a constant process," he said.

"Until we get the capacity to really understand the direction the sport should change to, we’re not going to change any of the big things. It’s just too risky."

There has been talk about shortening grands prix, and maybe adding a sprint on the Saturday, but Brawn showed no enthusiasm for that.

"I like the heritage of a race. I think an hour 40, an hour 45 is a great period for a race. And that’s traditionally what we’ve had. I think it’s a good time period," he said.

"Some people say let’s have shorter races because the public’s attention span is shorter these days. Well, with modern technology you can package the sport in whichever way people want to watch it.

"What we have to do is develop the sport so there is as much entertainment as possible during that period."

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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