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Total Competition: Lessons in Strategy from Formula One

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  807 ratings  ·  57 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 drivers ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Simon & Schuster UK
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Athan Tolis
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Shane Flynn
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
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
Harry Buckle
Apr 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 ...more
Vladimir Grigorov
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
Revanth Araveti
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vince Marsters
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Get insights into Formula One from two of the leading strategists of recent times in Ross Brawn and Adam Parr. The book (and associated audio narration) gives an insight into how to get the best from your car, team and most importantly driver, whilst in many cases fighting for your survival with money and the FIA.
Like me, you may not agree with every thing that is said but this book provides that inside glimpse into the thinking and rational of many of the critical F1 decisions in the past
Ibrar Malik
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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.”

Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
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.
Sean Smith
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.
Roberto Estaba
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This author is bad, very bad. He was pushing his agenda so hard with every interview question. There's literally a point of the book when Parr says a long thing, Brawn says "yes", and that exchange repeats about 4 times. Unacceptable for an interviewer. This is only saved from getting a sole star by Brawn's history being interesting.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Corporate types who might understand what Adam Parr is on about
As a formula one fanatic since the age of about 6 I was incredibly disappointed with this book. Adam Parr's dull and turgid writing meant I gave up about a third of the way through. Ross Brawn should find a decent ghost writer and do a proper book.
Ciarán Bohane
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some very interesting points on strategy to be gleaned from this book but there are hints of another book that needs to be yet written detailing Ross Brown's time in F1 but I guess that will have to wait until retirement.
Campbell Simpson
Absolutely fantastic and timelessly relevant inside look into the team operations behind the world of Formula One. With a lot of broader lessons about managing a team and the 'total competition' concept of working to improve all aspects of a team to find maximum performance.
Jennifer Lynch
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. I have always had a lot of respect from Ross Brawn and that respect increased on reading this book. Brawn recounts his career with Adam Brawn and they discuss what makes the perfect competitor.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book which not only tackles the similarities between "The Art of War" and Formula 1, but also offers the reader quite a few insights on Ross Brawn's MO during his career in F1. Most of the people in today's paddock should read it because the lessons are almost invaluable.
Momchil Shishkov
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a huge fan of Ross Brawn it was great to read so much about him and his time in motor racing.
The more or less academic strategy angle didn't appeal very much to me although I do see the merit in constructing the book that way.
Bartosz Binczyk
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is great for die-hard formula 1 fans that want to learn about the cogs running the show.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don’t buy

Ramble, unedited, dull. Read Adrian Newey’s book instead. Or Mark Webber’s, or Jenson Button’s. Six more words required to review
Marcelo Galdieri
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about strategy and organizational management, even if it's set-up around Formula One.
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