Why Jenson Button's Turkish Delight Was a Bitter Blow for His Rivals

Daniel ChalmersSenior Analyst IJune 11, 2009

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 07:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP leads from Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing during the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on June 7, 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The Turkish GP seemed to sum up 2009 so far. Jenson Button dominated and didn’t put a foot wrong. Red Bull missed their opportunity, and Rubens Barrichello had an unhappy race.

Button has now won six races, and has accumulated 61 points. Brawn has already reached 96 points. However, this recent win could well mean even more to Button and Brawn GP than the others\. It represents a huge killer blow, and disappointment to their nearest rivals, who thought they could win and spark a fight back.

The Turkish GP was marked as the crossroads for the season. If the likes of Red Bull wanted to challenge for the title, they simply had to end Brawn’s dominant spell this weekend on a circuit that perhaps suited the blue cars more than the virgin white ones.

A great challenge was expected from Red Bull whose car works very effectively in fast corners. Ferrari had been closing on Brawn in recent races, and with Felipe Massa’s great record at the track, a victory challenge was the least that was expected from them.

This was being billed as the race where Brawn’s winning run could be halted. Even Button conceded that he was going to face very stiff opposition. “I think that the Red Bulls should work quite well here. The car that they had in Barcelona, if they brought that here they would be competitive. We'll have to see if their diffuser makes a difference on this circuit,” surmised Button.

Button was expecting a big threat from Ferrari, saying, “The Ferraris will be quick here, too. I think they've made up ground at every race and they performed very well, especially in Monaco.” However Button dominated yet again with another flawless performance. Sebastien Vettel started on pole; however, he made an error on the first lap, letting Button into the lead.

The Brawn works best in the slower to medium corners, but not as immense in the super fast corners. This gave their rivals hope ahead of Istanbul as a track featuring fast corners. This hope proved false as Button gave a glowing assessment of his car’s performance, saying thst it was the best it had been so far in 2009.

“Thank you, you have built me an absolute monster of a car, thank you” was the message from an elated Jenson Button over the team radio as he crossed the line.

Brawn GP seemed to take another step forward this weekend, and showed that it was mighty on all track configurations. Their rivals were powerless to stop them despite their high expectations before the race Jenson Button now holds a massive 26 point lead over team mate Rubens Barrichello, and 32 points over Vettel.

Barrichello and Vettel face a “monster” task to make an impression on Button’s lead. After all, the Englishman could finish on the podium in every race from now on and still be crowned champion.

In the constructor’s championship Red Bull trail Brawn GP by 39.5 points. "It is going to be very difficult for us to make up the ground to Brawn” admitted Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

The bad news for Brawn GP’s nearest rivals is that Silverstone (up next) is similar to Istanbul with fast sections. The fact that the Brawn seemed to work so well in Istanbul, means that it will be very formidable around Silverstone. Hungary and the Nurburgring should suit the car better still.

Button will also have masses of support from his adoring home fans, which he has enjoyed even when he has had uncompetitive machinery. This year the atmosphere at Silverstone will be electric. If he wins there, then it has to be said that Vettel and Barrichello’s championship chances are as good as over.

When you watched their performances on Sunday, you sensed that they were so desperate to stop Jenson in his tracks; they tried too hard and failed. Vettel knew he had to push and create a gap. He went wide at turn turn, and when Jenson got past him, that was that.

Barrichello had a terrible start due to a problem with the clutch. He tried to battle through the field, but made a couple of desperate attempts on Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil.

The question now seems to be, "When Button will win the championship?" And can he become a record breaker in the process?

In 2004 Michael Schumacher won a record 13 times, and won seven of those races consecutively. He also scored a record 148 points. Ferrari also won 15 out of the 18 races, and scored 252 points.

What does Schumacher think of his potential record snatcher? “When Jenson arrived in F1 you could see straight away that he was highly talented. He was out-qualifying and sometimes outracing his teammate. If you see a driver (Ralf) who has some experience and a new kid comes in and straight away matches the pace, then you see that they are highly talented.”

Schumacher says the way Jenson is delivering this season shows that he is championship material. “When I saw that I could tell very clearly how good he was. He showed that when he has a package that is built around him with the ability he has then he can be absolutely top level.”

Button’s momentum is just getting bigger. Brawn GP has also proven that they have an impressive development rate, and remained ahead despite significant upgrades from their rivals.

Button’s points gap to Barrichello is now so large that, surely, Ross Brawn will now consider fully backing Button for the championship. If Button can win the next couple of races, there could come a point where some of their rivals decide to switch more of their focus to 2010. These factors should aid Button’s attempt to beat a couple of those records.

In this writer’s opinion, Button won’t quite exceed those records. He could get very close to the points record, though. Brawn GP isn’t as far ahead as Michael Schumacher’s 2002/2004 Ferraris were.

Red Bull should win races in the second half of the season. Brawn GP also aren’t as strong as Red Bull in the wet, and we have historically wet venues such as Belgium, Japan, and Brazil to come still.

Over ten wins is definitely possible. Jenson and Brawn GP certainly look to be heading towards one of the most successful seasons of recent times, unless we get a bizarre turn of events. Although this is unlikely, we all know in motorsport that anything is possible.