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Brawn: Big Two pay price of success

LEWIS Hamilton's under-performing McLaren team and struggling Formula One champion Ferrari are paying the price of past success, according to Ross Brawn.

The Brawn GP owner, whose team top both the drivers' and constructors' standings with two wins from two races, told reporters at the Malaysian Grand Prix that his rivals' difficulties were a direct result of last year's title battle.

"It is a reflection of what has gone on in the last year or two," said Brawn, the former Ferrari technical director who guided Michael Schumacher to seven titles with Benetton and the Maranello team.

"McLaren and Ferrari had a championship to fight over and I can understand that it was very difficult for them to say 'Look, we'll stop pushing this year and put our effort into next year'."

The sport has introduced major changes, with slick tires and completely revised aerodynamics as well as the new KERS energy recovery system.

Instead of being able to carry over developments, designers have had to start with a clean slate and come up with new solutions.

Youngest champ

Hamilton, the 24-year-old who last November became the sport's youngest champion after beating Ferrari rival Felipe Massa by a single point in the final race, has just one point so far in 2009.

While the Briton would have scored more had he not been stripped of third place in Australia for "deliberately misleading" stewards at a post-race enquiry, his teammate Heikki Kovalainen has yet to complete a lap.

Ferrari, which secured a record 16th constructors' championship last year, is last in the standings with no points - the Italian team's worst start since 1992.

While McLaren recognized before the start of the season that its car lacked pace, Ferrari has suffered some self-inflicted wounds.

At Sepang it kept Massa in the garage during the first session of qualifying, in the mistaken belief that his time was fast enough to take him through, and went too early in switching Kimi Raikkonen to full wets during the race.

Contrarily, those teams with uncompetitive cars last year, such as Brawn's now-departed predecessor Honda, started work on the 2009 versions much earlier than those fighting for the title.


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