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Brawn: The real events behind Keanu Reeves's new F1 series

Get up to speed on the key events behind the new Disney+ show

Keanu Reeves stands on a racetrack with driver Jenson Button next to a Formula One car.
Keanu Reeves with Jenson Button in Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story. (Disney+)

Keanu Reeves heads to the small screen for Brawn: The Impossible Formula One Story, a limited series event that’ll chronicle how one small racing team defied the odds to become worldwide champions.

Splicing sofa-gripping drama with exclusive interviews from some of the biggest names in the racing, Reeves executive produces and narrates the wild tale of Brawn, the underdogs who went on to win the 2009 Formula One world championship.

Of course, there’s plenty more to the story than that. Learn more about the history-accurate pit-stops Brawn: The Impossible Formula One story makes below…


When is Brawn: The Impossible Formula One story out?

Jenson Button sits in a Formula One car while Keanu Reeves stands next to him, looking down.
Keanu Reeves narrates and executive produces the four-part series for Disney+. (Disney+)

Brawn: The Impossible Formula One Story will air on Disney+ from Wednesday, 15 November in the UK.

The show consists of four parts which will all become available at once, so Formula One fans can drive straight into a binge session.


What real-life events inspired Brawn: The Impossible Formula One story?

Former Brawn GP co-founder Ross Brawn sits on a sofa. He's wearing black glasses and a grey shirt.
Ross Brawn and his co-founder Nick Fry bought the team which became Brawn for just £1. (Disney+)

The crux of this story goes all the way back to 6 March 2009 when Formula One constructor Brawn GP was first founded by co-owners Ross Brawn and Nick Fry. Together, they bought the management operation from its former owners Honda for just £1 — but by the time they were done with it, the team was worth a considerable amount more.

Not long after the purchase was made official on 17 March of that same year, Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the governing body for motorsports, allowed Brawn and Fry to change the company’s name to the one that adorns the title of Reeves’ Disney+ series.

This same date coincided with Formula One allowing Brawn GP to join for free instead of the typical price tag which usually spans thousands - such was the limited expectation around the team.

Once involved, Brawn didn’t mess around. By 28 March 2009, they had competed in the Australian Grand Prix, taking home first and second place. They had also secured a major backer with the Sir Richard Branson-owned Virgin. Immediately two racers stood out - Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello - both of whom appear in Reeves’ documentary series to share their sides of this historic story.

British F1 driver Jenson Button sits on a long blue sofa talking to Keanu Reeves who sits on a grey chair.
Jenson Button talks to Keanu Reeves for Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story. (Disney+)

By 5 April 2009, Button was competing in the Malaysian Grand Prix, ultimately managing to secure the fastest lap despite having to battle intense weather and heavy rain. This date also saw Brawn GP secure a new record when it became the first new car constructor to win their first two races since Alfa Romeo did the same way back in 1950.

Button and Barrichello’s wins continued at the Chinese Grand Prix on 19 April 2009, with both enduring the elements to secure top spots. However, by 26 July, their fortunes had changed.

Whilst at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Button finished eighth and Barrichello thirteenth, earning Brawn GP its worst ranking of the season so far. It was also an event marred with tragedy when a spring detached from Barrichello’s vehicle and injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, leaving a serious head wound.

Thankfully, redemption arrived soon afterwards when Barrichello emerged as the champion of the European Grand Prix on 23 August 2009, marking the first time he had won the title in five years.

Keanu Reeves is dressed in black, standing behind a white and neon green Formula One car. (Disney+)
Keanu Reeves presents Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story. (Disney+)

This luck spread to Button who took home the 2009 Drivers’ Title at the Brazillian Grand Prix a few months later in October. Together, Button and Barrichello had earned enough points to allow Brawn GP to win the Constructors Championship, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was secured within their first — and at the time only — season.

By 16 November 2009, word about Brawn GP’s achievements had become the stuff of legend, with the team emerging from seemingly nowhere to become the hottest racers in town. As a result, their engine supplier Mercedes-Benz joined forces with Aabar Investments to take out a 75.1% stake which ultimately led to a rebrand, with Brawn GP becoming Mercedes GP for the 2010 season.

When co-owners Brawn and Fry ultimately decided to sell the team, they reportedly pocketed around £150m between them — not a bad return from a humble £1 investment.


Brawn: The Impossible Formula One Story is streaming on Disney+ from Wednesday, 16 November.