Brawn GP Season Review Part Three: Brawn Terminate the Opposition

Patrick AllenAnalyst INovember 21, 2009

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  F1 Drivers Champion Jenson Button (L) of Great Britain poses with team mate Rubens Barrichello (R) of Brazil and the rest of his Constructors Championship Brawn GP colleagues for a team photo before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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Well, little did I know when I set out writing these season review articles that they would be my last words on a team I’ve followed since 2003. Jenson Button was the reason I started supporting Honda, but I think, I would have stayed with the team if I didn’t think it was changing so much for the worse. No, I have instead decided to move on with Jens. That isn’t to say that I’m a fickle team changer! I don’t, nor will I ever support McLaren. From now on I’m and Jenson, Mark Webber and Fernando fan, the team is irrelevant (I kinda like it….it’s like I’m a maverick fan…..a man without a team!).

Anyway, enough of that rubbish. Here is the next part of my season review for the glorious Brawn GP team. LONG LIVE HONDA AND BRAWN!

SPAIN 2009

Saturday Qualifying

It was Rubens who was the man to beat in Brawn colours throughout the practice sessions. However, thanks to arguably one of Jenson’s best qualifying laps ever under the watchful eye of the Terminator, the Championship leader stuck his car on the front spot.

The first couple of sessions were shaky to say the least. In Q1 Jenson comfortably made it through in P2, whilst Rubens spent some time in the drop zone before rising to P5. Then in Q2 whilst Rubens smashed through in P1, Jenson struggled for pace and only made it to P5.

In Q3, the Toyotas, Red Bulls and Brawns were fast and it was great! It was tense, but Rubens looked like a man possessed. The day was surly his, but no, Jens (who had crossed the start finish line one second before the chequered flag), made his last gasp lap work and perfectly plucked P1 out from under his team mate’s feet!

Sunday Race

The last eight people to qualify on pole for the Spanish Grand Prix have won on Sunday and 2009 was no different. Jenson Button drove like a man possessed and simply delivered a fantastic performance.

Jenson seemed a little bit slow to get started and Rubens darted past into first. Thankfully Vettel and Massa were too busy fighting each other to threaten the Brawns.

Rubens’s fastest laps early on I expect led many non Brawn fans to turn off, surly it was all over.

However, the Ferrari and Red Bull kept the Brawns honest and on lap seven, Rubens was told to really push it to stay ahead.

 

The Brawns were very lucky that earlier in the race Massa had passed Vettel. This was because the Red Bull driver would have been a far more serious threat if he was in third.

A crucial part of the race came when Jenson stopped having put in consistent fast laps. It looked as if Jenson’s three stop strategy had been changed to a two stopper. interestingly, Rubens’s strategy was not changed. It was now down to Rubens; he had to put in consistent fast laps and keep Jenson at arms length.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, for whatever reason, he wasn’t fast enough and the race win seemed to slip out of his reach.

On lap 30 Rubens pitted and re-joined in P4. The race was now Jenson’s to loose. He had to be consistently fast and stay ahead.

Some commentators began to suggest that Brawn had deliberately created a strategy that favoured Button, but Nick Fry denied this claim stating that it was up to the individual engineers to decide on their driver’s strategy. Unfortunately for Rubens, Fry was right. Car 23 was simply not fast enough, but it wasn’t all Rubens’s fault as the car was experiencing technical difficulties.

Jenson Button was in a class of his own, he made the hard tyres work for him like no other driver on the track.

 

With six laps left the Championship leader was the fastest man in Spain. Sure enough, Jens went on to claim his fifth career victory, Brawn’s fourth out of five races.

MONACO BABY 2009

Saturday Qualifying

After a reasonable few practice sessions, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Brawn for qualifying. Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Alonso and to an extent Force India had been strong and I must say I was very excited!

Fernando Alonso said earlier that 70 percent of winning the race at Monaco depended on qualifying on pole. Apparently in twenty three years, only one driver has won from outside of the top three.

The Toyotas were out first today, but the session was quickly yellow flagged after a mistake from Massa near the swimming pool complex just four minutes in.

The first time was eventually set by Fisichella (1:19:473) and with five minutes gone there were 10 times on the board. The key question for Brawn was when to go out. Traffic would play a huge role at this Grand Prix and as the track came into its own, timing would be critical.

A safe Q1 was followed by a very tense Q2 in which Jens only made it through in P8! However, despite strong challenges from Rosberg, and Vettel, out of nowhere….Jens was absolutely hammering it! He was amazing. With a phenomenal lap, the Championship leader showed us all how truly great he is with yet another pole. Rubens must have been down, as for yet another week despite being faster than his team mate in all sessions, he simply couldn’t beat him in Q3. Still, P3 was good enough for the Brazilian.

 

Sunday Race

Both Jenson and Rubens started on the Super Soft tyres, which would have given them good traction off the start, but the tyres would probably start to lose grip after just eight laps! (Let alone the 20 odd laps the two drivers planned to complete.)

A fantastic start from both Jens and Rubens, saw Button comfortably take off, whilst his Brazilian team mate muscled brilliantly past the Finnish Ferrari in P2.

Jenson and Rubens now had to lap quickly, whilst looking after their tyres. Thankfully the professional veterans managed to take out and maintain a decent lead over the Ferrari of Raikkonen. Jenson was on fire, but by lap three, Rubens had set the fastest lap.

Unfortunately for Rubens, being in Jenson’s dirty air was damaging his rear tyres more than hoped. The Brazilian was warned on lap 10 to watch out for his tyres as Vettel had practically shredded his super softs back in P5.

Vettel had been doing a good job of backing up the Brawn’s fast competitors, but on lap 10 having pushed a little too hard, he fell behind Massa, Rosberg and Kovelinen with tyre damage. (The German would later crash out).

By lap 11 Jenson was about to lap World Champion and future team mate Hamilton. However, by this stage Ruben’s tyres were dead and Raikkonen was proving very difficult to deal with.

The Brazilian would need to pit and soon. Now, this is where Jenson’s class comes into it’s own. Yes, Rubens had dirty air, but Jens’s smooth, relaxed driving style meant that he could handle the difficult stage much better.

After everyone’s first stops, the Brawns were once again first and second. Jenson pulled away on a slower Rubens (16 seconds). The next rounds of pit stops proved to also be eventless and despite a couple of scary charges from the Ferraris, Jens and Rubes comfortably brought home the third Brawn one two.

The only thing Jenson did wrong all weekend is park in the wrong place, but that didn’t matter because we were treated to a fantastic lap of glory as the race winner leapt from his car and ran from the pits to the front of the grid. He was literally jumping for joy...and so was I.

Rubens had been struggling with a dodgy seatbelt throughout the race and so to finish where he did was great. However, these two races illustrate an important part of Jenson’s eventual title victory. In both Monaco and Spain Rubens was faster on Friday and throughout most of Saturday. Crucially, Jenson was able to pip his team mate in the dying moments and this gave him physical and mental advantages. So fantastic performances from two world class drivers yet again. Surly the season was over? Nope, Little did they know but the Brawn dominance was about to take a stark dive!