Is It Brains or Brawn Cheating Their Way to F1 Success?

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IApril 6, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 05:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP celebrates in the paddock after winning the rain curtailed Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on April 5, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The impact Brawn GP has had on Formula One in their debut season has, so far, been phenomenal. After just two races as a team, they have secured two wins, albeit with one coming from an abandoned race.

They have certainly managed to muscle their way into early contention for the Constructors' Championship.

Of course, to suggest Brawn GP are a rookie team is somewhat stretching the truth. They did, after all, take over from Honda, and are considered by many to simply be a continuation of that team.

Their drivers aren't exactly newbies, either.

Jenson Button first raced in 2000, while Rubens Barrichello has participated in a record 273 races since his debut in 1993.

Yet Honda never achieved the type of success Brawn is experiencing. After two races, Brawn top the Constructors' Championship, while Button and Barrichello occupy the top two spots in the Drivers' Championship with 25 points between them.

Compare this to last season: throughout the whole season, Button and Barrichello won just 14 points between them.

How, then, have they managed to start this season so well? Have they suddenly become better drivers?

An obvious reason is that they have a better car now. While this may be true, it would take a hell of a leap in technology to make such an improvement. In nine years, Jensen Button managed to win one Grand Prix. Now he has won two in a row. He has won every single race he has ever entered for Brawn.

Unless they have stumbled upon the perfect mix of brains and brawn, and come up with a car that wipes the floor with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren, despite their droves of technical experts constantly improving their already near-perfect cars, then I doubt a better car can be the only reason.

Maybe it is the new F1 regulations that have favoured Brawn. The FIA have tried to make it so the races are more of a spectacle, and are closer. Brawn could well be benefiting from that.

Or perhaps it is the fact that spending has been reduced, so some of the advantage the likes of Ferrari had, have now gone.

In fact, it is entirely possible that nothing untoward is going on, and the playing field is now level, which is why Ferrari and McLaren have made such a poor start to the season. Maybe it was those teams who were gaining an unfair advantage all this time, and these new regulations have made those advantages null and void.

However, the rise from rags to riches of Brawn GP must be treated with some suspicion. They have already been questioned on the diffusers fitted to their cars, who knows what else could come to light?

No team has had a 1-2 finish on their debut since Mercedes in 1954. With the level of competition in today's Formula One, is it possible that Brawn could dominate this way without some unfair advantage?

For me, it is still too early to tell. The drivers could simply be riding the wave of momentum gained by getting a new lease on their Formula One lives.

Only two races have gone, and, despite Brawn dominating those two races, anything can still happen. You can bet that Ferrari and McLaren won't be languishing below Force India for the entire season.

I find it hard to believe that Brawn GP have made such a meteoric rise to the top, but until any evidence to the contrary surfaces, we must assume they are doing it fairly, and therefore we must applaud them for the fantastic start to the F1 season they have made.