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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Ross Brawn delivers lessons from Formula One at the 15th ATP RNLI Annual Lecture

Published: 7 December 2016
Ross Brawn delivers RNLI Lecture
Ross Brawn with the RNLI and University of Southampton members of the ATP. Credit: Jennifer Clough

In the lecture, which celebrates the Advanced Technology Partnership between the RNLI and the University of Southampton, Ross spoke about his experiences in Formula One, delivering an inspirational and witty talk about the challenges of getting teams to be their very best in order to achieve success. Before the lecture, Ross said: ‘I’m really looking forward to the lecture and the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience to inspire future generations. I’ve long been an RNLI supporter, and feel honoured to be giving a talk at this event celebrating the strong and innovative partnership between the RNLI and the University of Southampton.’

In 2010 Ross agreed to head up the Brawn Lifeboat Challenge to fund a new E class lifeboat for the River Thames, London. In eight months, the project raised £360,000, and the new lifeboat Brawn Challenge launched in September 2012. Since then, it’s been used by lifeboat crews to rescue 294 people and has saved 19 lives.

Reflecting on the lecture afterwards, Decision Support Manager for the RNLI Jodie Walshe said, ‘The RNLI Annual Lecture celebrates the success of the Advanced Technology Partnership and this year has been no exception with fantastic work being undertaken in the academic arena that contributes directly to saving lives at sea.

'This year was the best attended Annual Lecture that I have been involved with, mainly because we were fortunate to engage Ross Brawn, one of our high profile supporters, in giving the lecture. In his gentle and unassuming way, Ross delivered a powerful and insightful talk, reflecting on his time with Formula One as well as his relationship with the RNLI; he spoke about the things he believes has led to the success of the teams he has managed and led. While I’m sure everybody present got something personal from his talk, for me it was his passion for investing in and supporting people to be the best that they can be in their field, whether that was the storeman or the lead engineer, as well as the need for patience and taking the long term view, even in a fast paced environment, to achieve sustainable success.’

Notes for editors

About the Annual Lecture

The RNLI Annual Lecture celebrates the lifesaving charity’s Advanced Technology Partnership with the University of Southampton. This year we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the partnership, which aims to develop research and education in subjects of common interest to the two institutions, and involves active research projects in engineering and management.

About Ross Brawn OBE

 Ross Brawn was born in Manchester in 1954. His early enthusiasm for all things mechanical led to a consuming hobby of building electric slot cars and racing them all over Britain and Europe. He undertook a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in the early seventies, and, after he had finished, he took what he thought would be temporary diversion to work for Frank Williams F1 in 1976. Thirty seven years later he was still involved in a career in Motor Racing. He often mockingly commented that ‘one day I will get a proper job’.

His engineering and management career in motor racing brought a total of 22 World FIA Championships and a win at the 24hr du Le Mans. The peak of his career came with a rescue of the Honda F1 Team, renaming it Brawn GP and going on to win the 2009 F1 World Drivers and Constructors Championships in the team's first year. Brawn sold the team to Mercedes-Benz in 2010, and over three years established the template that has enabled Mercedes-Benz to win the 2014 and 2015 World Titles. Brawn has now retired from F1 and is focused on a number of personal projects, including the launch this year of his book Total Competition.

Media Contacts

For more information, please contact Jennifer Clough, RNLI Press Officer, on 01202 336134 or 07393 763780 or by email at

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland

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