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Total Competition: Lessons in Strategy from Formula One

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,115 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Total Competition is the most compelling, comprehensive and revealing insight into what it takes to get to the top in Formula One that has ever been published.

Across four decades, Ross Brawn was one of the most innovative and successful technical directors and then team principals in Formula One. Leading Benetton, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn and Mercedes, he worked with driver
ebook, 320 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Simon Schuster UK
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,115 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Athan Tolis
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
If you are an F1 fanatic, you inevitably fall in one of two camps: you’re either a Brawn / Byrne fan or you are an Adrian Newey fan. I don’t know too many who really love both.

I’m a Brawn / Byrne fan, to the extent that I actually no longer admire Newey as much as I once did.

My problem with Newey is he’d rather his car broke in the lead than it secured a safe second place. He’s a prima donna with immense sense of his own value and Ron Dennis had to let him go for that, for example. Then, of cour
Shane Flynn
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm not really sure what book Parr set out to write here. Brawn is interesting enough to carry the book, but this could have been so much better. Parr talks too much and could have improved the editing. Characters are mentioned just once without any background, there's several occasions where I had to check I hadn't skipped a page.

Is Parr trying to write a strategy book, a history of F1, a denunciation of Ecclestone, a book about Sun Tzu? I really don't understand what's added by shoe horning t
Ramprasad Putrevu
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plus points
1. Great insight into Brawn's Motorsport career - right from his days at Williams (11th employee) to his days at Mercedes just preceding their hybrid era domination.
2. Interesting commentary on the Todt-Brawn-Schumacher dream team. Specifically, the emphasis on process led changes that have resulted in the Ferrari domination in the 2000s.
3. Brawn restructured the team operations by combining the engine and chassis development at Maranello. Further Ferrari worked closely with Bridgest
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This really is Adam Parr's book, an extension of his PhD thesis on strategy with Ross Brawn as the case study.

The interview style was hard to get used to and didnt quite work for me as its quite rambly as its pretty much transcribed from recordings. Which also means it jumps around a lot and skirts details (lots of things mentioned in short period). It could have done with more editing / structure at times I think.

It is very interesting to see the behind the scenes of some key moments in Formul
Chinmaya Behera
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A terrific account of the world of Formula one from two of the greatest F1 strategists - Adam Parr and Ross Brawn. Written in an interesting interview format, this book delves into the career of Ross Brawn, his learning at each stint starting from Williams, Benneton, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn GP and Mercedes. The Observations section at the end of the book is worth a re-read multiple times over -

1. Strategy is a System
2. Avoid unnecessary conflict
3. Build trust consciously
4. Know yourself and know t
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
More interesting as a kind of insider's account of recent F1 history than as a book about organisational strategy.

It might simply be that while the authors have had senior roles in organisations with hundreds of employees, I, um, head up a team of five people, but I do have my doubts about whether 'strategy' is something that can be taught, or that it is possible to develop an abstract theory about. At best, Brawn's career provides an interesting case-study from which it is possible to draw cert
Igor Fil
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What does it take to win in Formula 1? What sets apart teams who struggle and those that are hard to beat? The best person to answer that is the one who has achieved the most success. Looks like this is what Adam Parr tried to do with this book.

The book is a dialogue between Adam Parr and Ross Brawn. They talk about Formula 1, examples of successes and failures. From Ferrari and Mercedes dominance to Toyota, who spent more money than anyone else yet failed to bring home a single victory. Ross B
Vijay Sankar
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
In complete contrast to F1 engineering wizard Adrian Newey's (auto)biography, 'How to Build A Car', Ross Brawn's narrative regales the central idea of his wildly successful F1 career, 'how to build a team'. It's a conversation between Ross and his writer/interviewer on the man's philosophies that helped him navigate the crocodile-infested waters of Formula 1 politics, its technical intricacies and infinite chambers of mini battles between sporting, technical and bureaucratic notions. Brilliant f ...more
Harry Buckle
Apr 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I had long been a Ross Brawn fan, observing his pragmatic and interesting style creating much success for Benetton, Ferrari and then with it's last ditch attempt Honda spin off 'Brawn.' This all famously contrasting with his well reported love of fishing. BUT this book with it's monotonous, unoriginal and quite frankly contrived Sun Tzu comparisons is a disaster. I really hope that's the fault of Adam Parr the obviously hapless CEO of Williams. The picture is alarming as it is full of Birtspeak ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting insight into the strategy and working practices of arguably one of Formula 1's most successful team managers. Refreshingly, Brawn comes across as a decent guy. ...more
Inge V
Mar 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, f1
I think this is a book that every Formula 1 fan will enjoy. The first part of the book is about Ross Brawn's career in which he tells really interesting stories about a lot of different topics. It gives a great insight into his career and his experiences. The second part of the book is about strategy in Formula 1 and is discussed in connection to The Art Of War. This to me seemed like a really interesting concept, but I felt that the execution of it was done poorly. I felt that the quotes used f ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book, co-written by two Formula One strategists formatted in a dialogue format which gives their either their opposing views or things that they agreed upon. Having heard these people give post-race interviews it was a fun read, according to the introduction they’d kept the transcript as raw as possible to reflect their conversations at the time of writing the book, and the relatively informal language used helped to make some of the more technical details easier to follow. The bo ...more
Vladimir Grigorov
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Every F1 fan falls into one of two camps - either Ross Brown’s or Adrian Newey’s. I’m from Newey’s camp. However, I’m very interested in what Ross Brown has to say. And he says a lot! I was thrilled to enter Ross Brown’s world and his memories.

I can’t help but mention one funny fact from the book. Mr. Brown admires the quality system in Ferrari. The same quality system that enabled Ferrari to set so many reliability records in the 2000s. That system was not invented in Ferrari, they took it fro
Dominik Peksa
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two books really - one tries to compare “The Art of War” with F1 teams and their leadership styles - kept loosing interest during these sections as they are bit too far fetched and tend go on a bit.

And then there is the “second book” which contains interview between the author and Ross Brawn - and the answers are the gold here - Ross gives a lot of insight on how he ended up in car racing and how he evolved throughout the years. Some great stories about team dynamics, politics and philosophy- is
Jonathan Khoo
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An account/memoir of Ross Brawn's life in Formula One prior to his appointment as the Managing Director of Formula One. This book is laid out in the style of an interview with former Williams F1 CEO Adam Parr.

This book is half a recount and retrospective of Brawn's life whilst also serving as a guide on how to lead an organization in the face of an ultra competitive environment (F1 in this case).

Brawn recounts the steps which have taken him from a lowly engineer to having lead a team bearing hi
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you are into Formula One. You'll get lots of good stories/insights directly from the horse's mouth, in this particular case the horse having won 20 Worlds Championships.
The book is structured as an interview/discussion/podcast, with some rambling about "The Art of War", courtesy of Mr. Parr. Is the book better if you remove those parts? Yes, but that is just my opinion, a random guy writing a book review on the Internet.

If you are not into Formula One, but still like to t
Revanth Araveti
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book can actually be read as ‘A brief memoir of Ross Brawn’s career’ than a book on strategy. I have followed Formula one during these drama times, I quite enjoyed the read, knowing more what happened in 2009, when Honda pulled out of F1 and how Ross lead the team.
I quite enjoyed the part where Ross describes the day to activities in Formula one team, how Design, engine and other teams are structured and how they all work together. How the teams including the drivers get ready for the races
Samuel Cole
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
At its heart, Total Competition book is an extended interview with Ross Brawn loosely built around the theme of strategy, and truthfully, I could have done without the strategy part. With that said, reading the thoughts and opinions of a transcendent figure in my favorite sport, Ross Brawn, was absolutely fascinating. As you'd perhaps expect from someone with his credentials, Brawn is able to give an in-depth look into both the history of F-1 and its current landscape. Although the book was publ ...more
Arun Lertsumitkul
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Overall, an interesting book, for both the strategist in me, but also the racing/Formula One fan. I learnt just as much about Formula One history as I did about history. This book does, however, require quite a bit of F1 context and prior knowledge to understanding the references, so would be best suited to Formula One fans. It was unusual and refreshing to read a book that is written essentially as a transcript of an interview, but it did make the writing feel a little unstructured, despite the ...more
Ibrar Malik
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brawn's comments on Benetton were invaluable research for my upcoming book

The link between Flavio Briatore & Tom Walkinshaw attempting to dispose of Max Mosley in Spain 1994 and how the cheating allegations against Benetton escalated thereafter, were particularly insightful. It gave my book a particularly useful lead to investigate the FIA / LDRA report.

Brawn also gives great analysis into Benetton planning for the major rule changes introduced at the start of 1994. Meaning they
If you like F1, you’ll enjoy reading about Brawn’s illustrious career and his tactics at different stages of his career. The book, however, is sold as having lessons in strategy from F1 and I didn’t feel there were any groundbreaking lessons - most were cliches that you can pick up from any management/strategy book. The book left me underwhelmed for what was described as the “the most compelling, comprehensive, and revealing insight into what it takes to get to the top in Formula 1.”

The referen
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A total go for leaders and Formula One fans.

When I first started reading, I found myself involved so deep into the book as Ross describes his early stages in Formula One and how he went about to achieve success in later stages with teams like ferrai, Mercedes, perhaps his own team Brawn GP and drivers like Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. This is given in a raw dialog format between Adam Parr and Ross Brawn which is beautiful.

This book revolves around how to succeed in Formula One world a
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of Ross Brawn, the Schumacher-Ferrari era of Formula One or Formula One in general, this is probably a pretty good book for you. Written in interview style, it/s a generally quick read and covers much of Brawn's career up to the time he was forced out of the Mercedes F1 team (which is covered, and he names names). It doesn't cover a huge amount of his car designs, but enough for the general F1 enthusiast I think. Overall, good, but won't hang onto it to re-read at a later date li ...more
Tufty McTavish
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating behind the scenes insight. In a happy coincidence I'd just read Jenson Button's autobiography. Where that was a thin dive, this on the other hand has far more depth and analysis. The two books complement each other in this order.

Interestingly a lot of the strategy and observations here apply to everyday business and professions beyond F1. Nice to read upon what worked for Brawn. Filling in a lot of F1 detail is a rare bonus.
Andy Moore
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
This makes a slightly more interesting sports biography than book on strategy, but the decision to leave this as lightly edited interviews is, in my opinion, the wrong one and makes the book less readable. I wouldn't recommend this book, even to someone who has an interest in Formula One. Shame, because I have a lot of respect for Ross Brawn. The best thing about this book (my copy) is that it is signed by Brawn. ...more
Sean Smith
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've been a big F1 fan for a number of years, but found this book a disappointment.

Rather than crafting a narrative, it's essentially a series of transcribed discussions between Brawn and Parr with some links to 'The Art Of War's.

It's almost like they couldn't decide whether to make the book a look back at Brawn's career or a book on strategy, and it doesn't do either as well as it could have.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. There are excellent management strategies discussed throughout, and I really like that is told in a conversational style. The subjects discussed are of particular interest to me as both an engineer and Formula One fan, but I believe anyone interested in competition and optimal management in competitive environments would really like this book.
Matt Lanka
Pretty interesting for Formula One fans, especially if you have been following the sport for decades (I haven’t). The authors want the book and its lessons to apply in other situations beyond F1 but it’s kind of up to the reader to figure out how. It’s a good book for what it is but I didn’t find it to be revolutionary.
Roberto Estaba
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great listen if you watched formula one in the 90s and 2000s. Lots of inside stories dircetly from Brawn and Parry themselves

Parry tried to turn the book into a strategy book, to appeal to business readers. He achieved this with only partial success, but it is still an aspect that adds to the book. It does not subtract form it because he does not extend too much into strategic theories
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ross Brawn's thoughts on F1 are golden. It's profoundly entertaining to get his take on the development cycle and the politics of modern racing.

Adam Parr's attempts to make this "Sun Tzu with wheels" unfortunately often falls flat. It's just a bit of reach to constantly compare the team principal to Napoleon, etc.
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