Brawn GP Win Has Brought Credibility Back to F1, But Old Guard Follow Near

Kris BrownContributor IMarch 31, 2009

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29:  Race winner Jenson Button (right) of Great Britain and Brawn GP celebrates with Team Principal Ross Brawn (centre), second placed Rubens Barrichello (left) of Brazil and Brawn GP after the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit on March 29, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Brawn GP’s brilliant Grand Prix victory in Australia on Sunday, which saw Jenson Button on top with Rubens Barrichello in second, was just what Formula One needed, following the chaos of the past few months.

The almost fairy tale story in which a team, under the former guise of Honda, only four weeks ago looked unlikely to race to storming victory on its Formula One debut is one that could have never been predicted.  But that is why this story brings so much credibility back to Formula One, and has reinstated the idea that this sport is the most exciting on earth. 

For too much of its history, Formula One has become mired by the predictability that the usual big teams of Ferrari, McLaren and others would always win most races.  It takes moments like Sunday’s to refresh the appeal of the sport and remind us that what may happen in one season doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen in the next. 

For sure, the new FIA sporting and technical regulations have much to do with it, but fans should welcome this racing revolution as something that keeps Formula One alive as the worlds’ highest form of motorsport for generations to come.

Brawn GP’s win also brings so much credibility because it is a true underdog story.  I found myself almost in tears when Button and Barrichello crossed the finish line.

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I did see this sort of thing happen before  remember Jordan’s Belgium Grand Prix one-two finish in 1998).

However, because this sport is reserved for a special class of people, and with budgets floating around that which most people will probably never see in their lifetime, the hard work the former Honda team put into working on this year's car, and the dream that Barrichello and, in particular, Jenson Button had of re-launching their Formula One careers looked as though it was seriously slipping away.  All that, made Sunday’s win extra special.

The problem Brawn GP now have is staying at the top.  Although, for the moment, they may appear to have an advantage over their rivals because they spent more time developing the 2009 car, the more experienced teams of Ferrari and BMW have proved that they are not too far off the race winning pace. 

If both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa had not the troubles in Sunday’s race which caused them to retire, they would have undoubtedly been in a strong position for a podium finish or perhaps a race win.  The BMW of Robert Kubica could have quite easily finished in second and perhaps challenged Button for the win if it wasn’t for his clash with Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.

Brawn GP’s biggest flaw compared to its rivals is money and resources.  Despite Richard Branson and Virgin announcing primary sponsorship of the team, it cannot be avoided that there are very real problems still going on.  Only hours after the Australian Grand Prix, chief executive Nick Fry announced around 270 jobs losses from the team’s factory in Brackley, England. 

The more established teams like Ferrari, are not feeling the global recession pinch as hard and therefore has a distinct benefit in finance and man-power.   It would be a brave person not to bet on a Ferrari, McLaren or BMW comeback later on this season.

It is still early days, and nobody in the Formula One world knows how the season will continue to play out.  However, with the genius of Ross Brawn and history of more established teams, it’s going to be interesting. 


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