Brawn GP Season Review Part Eight: We Are the Champions!

Patrick AllenAnalyst IJanuary 17, 2010

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP celebrates on the podium after finishing third during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

After a lengthy break over the Christmas period, I’ve decided to have a quick break from revision to write the final installation of Brawn GP’s 2009 season.

I have been writing two races at a time, but I don’t think Abu Dhabi deserves a stand alone article as it was only a race for about three laps! So here they are, a little shorter than before, but in their glory…. Suzuka to Abu Dhabi.

Suzuka 2009

Saturday Qualifying

Jenson was out quickly to test some last minute changes. Both Brawns lapped reasonably well in the first session, despite tense moments in the relegation zone.

Session two was another matter. Two red flags, only four times up with five minutes left and a very close yellow flag call; (Buemi crashing out in front of both Brawns….did they slow enough?).

Well for now, the Brawns had made it through. Despite impressive last-ditch laps in Q2, neither was fast enough to break past P5. However, the Brawns would both face penalties later that day.

When all the penalties had been sorted, and after a gear box change for Kovalainen, Jens ended up starting P10 and Rubes P6.

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Sunday Race

At certain stages in this odd race, Brawn GP were Constructor's Champions, Jenson went from poor to great and Rubens went the other way, and one key moment may also have determined the World Championship.

Vettel’s supreme win earnt him not only the prestigious title of one of Patrick’s drivers of the day; it also kept him in a close distance of the title.

The start would be critical. Rubens's main goal, keep clean and hold onto that P6, any pass will be a bonus. Jenson’s task, keep Kovalainen at bay and try to make some places up.

The lights went out and the front rows got away cleanly. It was harder to make out the midfield so….shock horror…..I had to rely on Jonathan Legard’s commentary to help me understand the start!

Rubens got away well and held on to that crucial P6. However, Jenson had had an awful getaway. A mixture of unlucky blocking and slight tentativeness meant that he had been passed by Kovalainen and Fisichella.

Jens was P12 as the cars snaked around turn three. He did manage to claw back some places, though, with some lovely moves.

Now, the next race incident was absolutely crucial. It was arguably one of the largest strokes of luck I have ever seen and no doubt was vital for the Championship.

Jenson had to pass Kovalainen to have a serious shout at points, but Sutil was between the McLaren and the Brawn. Sutil was lighter than his Finish rival and was quickly losing patience.

The young German driver stuck his car up the inside of Kovalainen and pulled off what looked like a complete move…however, Kovalainen didn’t back off and his front wing made contact with the Force India’s rear.

Sutil span and Kovalainen darted off the track, Jenson simply glided past into his gifted P8.

This single moment changed Jenson’s race completely and seemed to trigger a complete change in both Brawn drivers.

Jenson was revitalised and in clear air, and although it wasn’t happening yet, Rubens would begin to drop off the pace steadily from here on.

The race then developed into a load of fast times, but little track overtaking. Jenson did very well, lapping to improve his chances when others stopped, whilst Rubens clung on to his place. With 15 laps left, Rubens was slow but in P4, Jens was looking good in P6.

After their final stops the Brawns were P7 (Rubens) and P8 (Jenson). Rosberg in P4, was the key to Jenson’s day, his rejoining place after a stop would be crucial. He could end up between the Brawns (thus locking Jens out of the points), or behind them, or even in front!

It all became academic when Alguersuari span off at 130R, causing a safety car period with nine laps to go. Williams did well to get Rosberg in and put him out again in P5.

Everyone’s attention now went to the re-start. Jens had been faster than Rubens, but fast Kubica would now be right up behind the Briton. With just four laps left the race was back on and there were initially no dramas.

The front runners sped off into the distance but the fight between the Brawns and the BMW was on. Rubens was slower than Jenson, who was slower than Kubica!

It was pretty tense but there simply wasn’t enough time, and thankfully the Brawns crossed the line in the last two points-paying positions. They were one point off the Constructor's title, so the irony of winning the championship on Honda soil never came.

It was absolutely lovely to see Vettel do that Schumi jump on the podium. It was like seeing a small excited boy emulate his hero after a kart race or something. Still, it wasn’t good news for Jenson…..what would Brazil hold?


Brazil 2009

Saturday Qualifying

The terrible conditions that meant that there were only 13 minutes of practice in the morning, continued to cause problems for qualifying in the afternoon.

When the session did finally begin, Rubens did a superhuman job to finish pole, whilst Jenson looked as if he was throwing away his Title.

Session one was close, but the poor weather conditions took three of Jenson’s biggest threats out. These were Vettel, Kovalainen, and Hamilton. Jens’s initial luck didn’t last long though; whilst his team mate looked like a man possessed, Jenson was a lost boy!

Both Brawns struggled in the second session but Rubens was able to crucially claw his way through. This session was merely a hiccup for the Brazilian who went on to storm into P1.

In this vital qualifying session, Rubens did all that was physically possible to prove he was still in the fight, as for Jenson, well he did little to prove his critics wrong.


Sunday Race

After all those woes on the Saturday, I couldn’t believe my eyes when on Sunday Jenson drove better than ever before and gave me at least the best F1 race I’ve ever watched.

It all could have gone so differently. Jenson lined up in 14th position, with the dangerously fast Vettel just one place behind him thanks to a Liuzzi penalty.

My heart thumped as I remembered the usual chaos that Brazil brings, and this year was no different!

As Rubens made a beautiful start off the line I watched on the edge of my seat as Jenson carefully snaked around turn one and then turn two.

However, just behind Jenson, three cars including Vettel and Kovalainen were side by side, the two cars tapped each other and Kovalainen was sent spinning. Fisichella darted off the track to keep out of the early tangle, but there more action elsewhere.

The camera cut to a Toyota smashing off the track, then we saw another car in ruin and finally the broken remains of Sutil’s Force India. As if this wasn’t enough, a small (but hilarious) fight broke out between Trulli and Sutil.

The safety car was out but Jenson had fantastically managed to pass Alguersuari and was up to eighth! As Rubens lapped comfortably at the front, Raikkonen and Kovalainen took to the pits.

In a rush to get the McLaren out ahead of the Ferrari, the silver car ended up leaving its box with the fuel hose still attached! Fuel was spluttering everywhere and when they hit Kimi’s exhausts, we got a fire display!

It soon became clear when the absolute madness subsided that Alonso had been the third casualty of Sutil and Trulli’s tussle.

The safety car came back into the pits on lap four and Jenson was all over Grosjean for seventh. The Brit put a magnificently brave manoeuvre on the Frenchman and after swapping positions through turns five and six it was the Brawn man who came out on top.

Then after another daring move, this time on Nakajima into turn one, Jens was up one more place!

At the front, Rubens was quick, but Webber was looking very threatening! Meanwhile, Jenson was struggling to pass a determined and skilled Kobayashi.

Rubens darted into the pits for his first stop on lap 21. This would prove to be a key moment as unfortunately the Brazilian was released into terrible traffic in eighth position.

Rubens' day went from bad to worse when Vettel capitalized on the heavier Brawn and took eighth place. Rubens then fell back into the clutches of Hamilton, and after a pit stop from Kubica rejoined the Pole ahead of Rubens; it looked really bad!

Jenson was all over Kobayashi and complaining of foul play from the Toyota man. Still on lap 24 he finally managed to dispatch his rival and moved into second (thanks to pit stops ahead of him). Jens now had to absolutely push and he knew it. He radioed in to say "let’s go! Let’s go!"

Jenson’s stop was perfect and after some retirements in front and a great manoeuvre on Buemi into turn one, the Brit was P7.

By lap 44, Webber led, Rubes was second and Jenson had got up to fourth! After the front runners' second stops, Rubens was in third, but Jenson was at that moment the World Champion. The Brazilian Brawn man must have sunk into his seat when with just 12 laps left, Kovalainen pitted and promoted Jens to sixth.

It wasn’t going to get any better for Rubes either, as during a fight with Hamilton for that last podium position, he suffered a puncture! This really spoilt an otherwise fantastic race as Rubens had no choice but to pit and take on new tyres.

This action meant that it was all over and all Jens had to do was finish the next eight laps. He did, and by finishing in fifth, Jenson Button won the Formula One World Driver's Title for 2009. Rubens did his bit as well by finishing eighth and the Constructor's Title went to Brawn GP.


Abu Dhabi 2009

Saturday Qualifying

I’ll make this one short as I’ve gone on a bit about Brazil! I wasn’t exactly surprised to see Hamilton finish the 2009 qualifying season on top.

McLaren looked strong all weekend, but so did Brawn GP. An eventless and frankly boring qualifying session ended with Rubens in P4 and Jenson in P5.

Sunday Race

The start of the race set a precedent really. A clean getaway from all of the cars and next to no overtakes. Rubens was knocked by Webber into turn one, and although he suffered some damage to his front wing, he didn’t lose out too badly.

Jenson was all over Rubens from the start and managed to squeeze past on the first lap, probably around turn 11; (the manoeuvre was never shown).

Jenson gained P4, and it looked as if Rubens was slipping back into the clutches of Kubica who had done a good job of passing Trulli.

Kubica moved in on Rubens, Jenson moved in on Webber, and the pack closed in on a surprisingly slow Hamilton, but there were no overtakes.

After their first stops Vettel was the man to beat; Webber looked strong and the two Brawns were doing a good job holding on to P5 (Jens) and P7 (Rubens). Some action on lap 20, when Hamilton’s strange poor pace was explained by the unfortunate Brit having to retire.

Although there didn’t seem to be a physical problem with his car, the computer had flashed up with warning signs and it was thought best that he retire. Nope no smoke or fanfare…..just a busted computer….dull…dull…dull!

With 20 laps left, my reason for loving Alonso was illustrated. The Spaniard put Kobayashi under pressure and excellently made a successful pass for P10.

This was a great manoeuvre, but it was ultimately pointless as it was Alonso’s in lap! Thanks Nando for giving us some actual bloody racing! (He will be World Champ again very soon!)

After the final stops, I thought it was game over. Red Bull first and second (Vettel P1, Webber, P2), the Brawns closing out the top four. However, on the soft tyres Jenson was on fire and with nothing to lose he pushed like crazy in an attempt to pass Webber.

I must admit I didn’t think it would be as close and exciting as it proved to be. It took Jens a few laps to reel Webber in, but with just two laps to go the racing was brilliant. Jenson attacked like a Champion and Webber defended fantastically.

I only wish we could have had a few more laps. I think it was those few laps that saved the 2009 season from ending in a very dull way indeed.

Rubens had a very quiet evening and although he did well to finish P5, I think he’ll be gutted that he didn’t end 2009 at least in P2.

Jenson finished his season how he began it, on absolute fire! He looked as excited on the podium as he did in Melbourne and that was lovely.

So that was 2009; a great one-off season. Next year Brawn GP is no more, Rubens will race for Williams and Jenson will face his greatest ever test at McLaren.

Look out for Jens’s car on Tuesday as that’s when it’ll be released. I don’t really have much else to say. Bring on 2010.


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