A Champion In Waiting: Push The Button

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIOctober 4, 2009

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 02:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP prepares to drive during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 2, 2009 in Suzuka, Japan.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

It is almost true that Jenson Button will be crowned champion this season. Based on recent race weekends action he is doing enough to protect his lead. Barrichello is unable to outclass him by more than the odd place or two and Vettel has shown an inability to perform consistently due mainly to his unpredictable Red Bull car.

Brawn GP may have lost their early season sparkle but are showing as true competitors with relative pace in every Grand Prix weekend. Red Bull sadly have not. This is Jenson’s saviour at the moment and the likely reason as to why he will become triumphant in Brazil.

Yet since the first half of the season Jenson has done little to back up his claim to the title.

This arguably is not surprising.

After years of uninspiring on track seasons he found himself this year in a completely unexpected position; he was leading the field due to his revolutionary Brawn chassis. The performance of both driver and team rewarded the sport with new fans and an electric new attitude. Jenson wrestled effortlessly out of the car the most he possibly could and elevated himself clear of the rest of the competition. The wondrous reaction we all witnessed as a result to his successes was a real mood elevator. He was the cat who got the cream, and for a driver who continued throughout years of frustration it was a welcome spectacle.

When the Brawn began to suffer however so did Jenson, and sadly he managed to portray himself as a good driver in a good car, but a weak driver in a weaker car. The pressure appeared to become somewhat overwhelming and he began to suffer.

His team mates’ dominance over him when Brawn were edged backwards has forced many to question his credentials.

When Button faltered, Barrichello seemed to capitalise, even recording a race victory in a weekend where Brawn were visibly not the strongest team.

Such a transformation and reversal in the team’s driver results makes you wonder whether Button is worthy of being added to a list of champions that include the likes of Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Alonso and Fangio.

Button’s probable title win may be seen in years to come as a nothing more than a lucky break; a team victory spearheaded by Button but rather in spite of the British driver as opposed to because of him.

It is absolutely essential therefore that Jenson either wins or reactivates his performance to represent his early season standards. The aim here is of achieving credibility for a title win that seems more likely at this moment in time to be gifted to him instead of being claimed by him.

All of his competitors have proven more worthy on separate occasions but have tripped over each other or themselves along the way. Such results mean that they were unable to claw back the gap Jenson has created.

Webber for example has shown disastrous results in the last few races gaining not a single point and losing his title challenge rapidly in the process.

These sorts of events became an anti-climax to an enticing season with Jenson able to finish away from the podium but not be penalised as much as he should have been.

So as Jenson limps to glory he has appeared to be safe and secure, despite his performance in Japan highlighting his apparent loss of focus and championship winning credentials.

His conservative drives may be acceptable for damage limitation to his points lead, but the lack of aggression and determination is proving unflattering to a driver on the cusp of achieving the sports highest accolade.

When a driver wins a title it would be vastly more inspiring if the driver achieved it on a high.

Michael Schumacher mastered this by rarely easing down when a title seemed impossible to lose.

A champion is only a true champion if he can still portray this on track.

If Jenson continues in his decline then similar performances in the 2010 season would do little to defend a follow up season of success.

The thought of gradual decline therefore demeans the quality of driving that Jenson allowed us to see, and the quality of driving that ultimately gave him a re-ignition to his then miserable career.

Otherwise without an abundance of sensational follow up performances to his six wins this season Jenson will forever be seen as an almost man, and average driver who gained a genius stroke of luck that offered him a prize many would see as unworthy for such a driver.

Compare him with Robert Kubica last season, who’s level of consistency and pace was worthy of more than a runner up position.

For a driver celebrated for his control and nice guy persona to receive a finale to his career that could never reach the same dizzy heights as the start of this season would be a real shame, yet one that unless Jenson improves will become an probable inevitability.

Brawn have stated that they expect improved race pace in the final two Grand Prix of the season, which hopefully will allow Button to translate this into revitalised results and a resultant title win.  

For as we have seen this season, when he is on it he is well and truly on it.