With it being almost a week since Jenson Button and Brawn clinched the Formula 1 World Drivers and Constructors titles. As I'm a big Formula 1 fan i felt that it would be appropriate to write about the small subject of whether Button and Brawn are worthy champions or not. The reason for this is that in the build up to the Brazilian Grand Prix there was a small question emerging about the fact that Jenson’s results since the Turkish GP in June have not been as good as results earlier in the season. But does that theory mean that Jenson and the team are not worthy of what they've won this season - no it does not!
Jenson’s performances at the start of the season were nothing short of brilliant. Matched with a fine car in the Brawn BGP 001 and a reliable and quick Mercedes engine, Jenson as we should now know won 6 of the first 7 races. In the only race he didn’t win in the first 7 he still managed a fine third in Bahrain behind the two Red Bull drivers ( Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber).
In fact in those early parts of the season it looked like this year’s season was going to be a boring processional one. No disrespect to Button or Brawn whose achievements were quite sensational, but if it wasn’t for the Red Bull’s finding some form and the other leading drivers making steps forward, Brawn’s dominance may have been seen in a negative light. After all at the start of this decade we had Michael Schumacher winning a staggering 5 championships on the bounce. Between 2000 and 2004, only the 2000 and 2003 seasons were ones where Schumacher and Ferrari didn’t have it all their own way.
Since Turkey though, Button ‘struggled’ in the eyes of a few people and began to struggle for the front in qualifying yet alone the races. However in the races since Turkey, he has still only failed to finish in the points once. Even in Spa where he retired after a handful of corners on the first lap, it wasn’t really his fault. Heading into the tricky Les Combres section of the track, Jenson spun out only after Renault’s Romain Grosjean ran into the back of him.
That blemish aside he has still had what most drivers would call good point’s finishes, especially a good second at Monza behind fellow team mate Rubens Barichello. So bad days of 5th and 7th placed finishes at the end have helped him to the title because they were not DNF’s where his championship lead would slip further behind.
This year Jenson has had a car worthy of his talents. After dogged years where he was driving a crap car which even a driver with the combined talents of Schumacher, Senna and Moss would not be able to do well in. Right from the word go, Jenson’s driving was spot on and he matched some brilliant qualifying performances with excellent race results. During those races in particular and the whole season to be fair, when Jenson needed a good spell of laps to put pressure on his opponents he put in some great lap times that earned him the success in the races. It was very much a year of Jenson getting in the car and expressing himself behind the wheel, something he had not been able to in past years.
Now I’ll focus on the team and team owner Ross Brawn. When the 2009 regulations were announced in December 2006, Ross Brawn sacrificed Honda’s 2007 and 2008 seasons for a chance to be the top dog in a year where the technical and aero-dynamical regulations of the car were to be the most radical in years. However after dismal performances and the current world economic recession Honda decided to pull out of the sport in December last year and everyone involved within the team was out of a job.
Thankfully Ross Brawn brought the team and kept the team on the grid. There were casualties with hundreds of people at the base in Brackley losing their jobs. But those high up knew that they had a competitive car under their belts and the rest now is history. The car baring the odd mistake has been reliable and the team have won 8 races so far this season. It’s a credit to everyone involved with the team through their previous incarnations of Honda and BAR that there has been a fairytale ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel – even if they were not present at Interlagos last weekend.
Ross has shown once again that he is one of the key figures in F1. Under his work he has been part of championship winning seasons with 3 different teams; Benetton, Ferrari and now his own team. Of course beforehand he was working with a certain Michael Schumacher who at his peak was the best driver in the sport. This year’s championship i would argue means more not just because of Brawn’s fairytale story but the fact that they have overcome the bigger names in Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW in getting there.
In conclusion both Button and Brawn are worthy champions. Yes they were slightly fortunate at the start of the season that no-one could really match up to them, but the team still had to do their job and Jenson had to get to the car to the finish. Time and time again this year, when it has really mattered Jenson has produced the pace and consistency needed to win the title. The team have continued their fine work and with limited resources at the start of the year have worked their way to a stunning conclusion. Between now and next season the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren will be working their hardest to chase down Brawn and start next season well. It will be hard for both Button and Brawn to retain their titles; however I don’t think that they’re a team scared of a daunting challenge. Nor should a team be so after such a great year.