If Brawn GP really are that fast??

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The two Brawn GP cars were fastest in the final pre-2009 test session
The two Brawn GP cars were fastest in the final pre-2009 test session

??Honda made a huge blunder by selling the team over the winter. After the disastrous years of 2007 and 2008 their decision to throw all their efforts into the 2009 campaign would have been vindicated.

??Their livery won?t stay plain white for long. Plenty of people have suggested that their stunning pace in testing was achieved because they were running light in a bid to attract sponsors. But would they really waste so much of what little testing opportunity they had to post artificial lap times?

Recession or no, there?s an F1 car that looks like being a race winner hammering around with no sponsors on it. Form an orderly queue??

??Button versus Barrichello will be a fascinating battle. Button was largely the quicker of the two in 2006 and 2007, but Barrichello had the upper hand last year.

They also had some very close fought duels, such as at Fuji, but because they were going on at the back of the pack they didn?t get much attention.

??It?s terrible news for McLaren. For as long as they?ve had Mercedes engines they?ve never had to share them with another team.

Now, in the first year Mercedes are supplying other teams (Force India as well as Brawn GP), McLaren are lagging behind a team which spent two months of the off-season looking like it might not exist. Not good for the defending world champion’s team.

Do you think Brawn GP?s testing pace is genuine? Have your say in the comments.

83 comments on “If Brawn GP really are that fast??”

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  1. hats off to brawn GP, but i still woudn’t be too excited, mclaren have been testing parts for other tracks – like monaco which is a slower max downforce track, so their times are going to be much slower than brawn gp, which is getting setup for higher speed tracks like melbourne.

    either way i’ll be wearing my honda shirt at the first race in support for them :)

  2. They did seem to be strong not only in one-lap performance but also in long stints, during which they couldn’t play with the fuel in that effect. They are strong, no doubt about it but will they be “that” strong on the day? I don’t know.

    As they don’t use KERS, they have an advantage being lighter than those of KERS users enabling them to tune car balance much better. Given that Rubens have lost weight, they might have gained that much amount of lap time advantage.

    The one thing I doubt that if they are using an already developed car by Honda’s effort and sources in 2008, which means, can they improve car over the course of the season? It is told Honda was developing this car since the end of 2007 so that much of performance should have expected. The question is if Brawn GP can continue with what Honda left them.

    1. Actually – having or not having KERS won’t have impact on overall weight of the car. The current cars with driver included are below the minimum weight limit and they use the ballast weight to ”fill up” placing it strategically to improve weight distribution. KERS will have impact on weight distribution as ballast weight would have to be smaller but the cars would be weighting the same…

    2. @gabal, You’re right. But the fact that a non-KERS car has more ballast that can be moved around the car to get closer to the ideal weight distribution means that a team without KERS could have a slight advantage.

      This really is the big unknown going into this season, how much of a difference will KERS make?

      I wouldn’t be suprised if a team without it can be gentler or their rear tyres due to the better weight distribution and so might be able to make up the difference over a race distance to negate the KERS-effect.

      It will be especially interesting to see what happens as the season progresses if the KERS units can be made smaller and lighter so the teams with them can start to carry more ballast too…

      Of course there’s also reliability to think about. Will the teams running KERS suffer from gremlins which again give the advantage to teams without them…

      One thing is for sure; for anyone interested in the technical and strategic aspects of F1, it’s going to be a fascinating season..!!

  3. the pace can easily be genuine, they were qualifying times, not race distance times, their race distance times we’re on par with everyone else, 1-20, 1-21.

    i don’t doubt any other team could low fuel a car with their best tires and go head to head with them.

  4. I remember Williams being very quick in testing in last few years , and they have been reasonable this year in testing too , but come races , they seem to fade as the year progresses. For that reason , I would not bet on Brawn GP winning the 2009 championship , but nevertheless all credit to them for turning the last two years’disasters and producing a car that presently is highly competitive and should enable them to “hit the ground running” for 2009.

    1. You forget though that Brawn GP have a very good budget for this year (~ $150,000,000), are making staffing cuts/wage cuts (so that will go even further) and have world class facilities than Williams lack.

      For this year they are a privateer team in name only.

  5. I find it hard to believe that Brawn is deliberately going faster than they reasonably can go. That’s not something you’d expect from a professional like Ross Brawn. So if they really are that fast, good for them… and bad for Honda.

  6. Honda sold not because they had to but because they had to be seen to be doing something to cut costs, especially if they were making hundreds of people redundant around the world. It’s the same with ING pulling out – as Martin Brundle said a few weeks ago on the radio, the exposure they got from team and race sponsorship was immense, but with government money being used as a bailout, and redundancies there too, they couldn’t go be seen to be going on with the ‘frivolous’ sponsorship programme.

    1. But so long as they were winning races or at least scoring well, no one would criticize them for it.

      As it is, Honda will now have to grin and bear it.

  7. Brawn are testing in Jerez next week – isn’t that Mclaren’s private test slot???

    1. No, McLaren, Brawn and Renault are all in Jerez.

  8. I really do hope the Brawn is as quick on race pace as it has been in testing.
    However, I doubt that it will stay quick for long if it starts embarrassing the rest of the field; Briatore is already making noises about the legality of their diffuser so it would only be a matter of time before they were ordered to change it if they consistantly showed the rest of the field the way home…

    1. This is the first I’ve read of any questions over the legality of the BGP001’s diffuser… Where have you seen this mentioned?

    2. its just Briatore complaining because once again Renault has missed a trick!

    1. @ Adrian & Dr Jones:

      I saw Briatore mention that there were 3 teams with suspect diffusers; Williams & Toyota were two that were named, but the third wasn’t. I then trawled a couple of forums where posters were making comments about how the Brawn diffuser looked remarkably different to those on the other cars on the grid & so I assumed – possibly erroneously – that Flav was alluding (a great Blundell word, there) to the diffuser on the Brawn without actually mentioning their name.

  9. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet: with increased overtaking opportunities, we’ll be seeing far more skirmishes on the track, with a corresponding increase in controversial moves, culminating in massive discussion and debate here and at other sites.

    If last year was controversial, this year can only be more so, with far more opportunities for seemingly arbitrary and subjective punishments from the stewards. We’ll see where that goes.

    Good to be back and can’t wait for the first race!

  10. Honda didn’t pull out of F1 last year because they weren’t fast enough. It pulled out because the Japanese company could no longer justify spending hundred of millions of dollars to not be fast enough against a background of falling car sales and smaller profits. Honda may still be funding the team formerly known as Honda Racing in 2009, but it’s probably less than the cost of shutting down the team and Ross Brawn will have to find the money to continue from 2010 onwards.

    In the wider context, Honda have probably made the right decision – albeit at the relatively minor cost of handing over a seemingly competitive F1 team for peanuts. Honda’s real F1 blunder was failing to get the right technical leadership and structures in place until it was too late, while abandoning traditional sponsorship and funding the team on its own.

    Could the Brawn be running light to impress potential sponsors? It isn’t impossible. If I were Ross Brawn and I had to choose between meaningful testing or securing the financial future of my new team I’d probably pick the latter – Brawn has said that his job is to look out for his staff. That said, Brawn GP has spent more time than anyone else working on its 2009 car and that it’s fast straight out of the box is much easier to swallow than Prost or Arrows topping the times as happened in days gone by.

    Jenson Button has generally struggled when his car has been difficult to drive. Jenson has a very smooth, fluid driving style which is incredibly quick when he has the right car underneath him. But he finds it difficult to bully a reluctant car into putting in fast times, unlike Rubens Barrichello. If the Brawn chassis handles well enough, I would expect Jenson to emerge as a clear team leader. If not, then he’ll struggle to keep up with Rubens as in 2008.

    1. I don’t think they’re running light – I think that with the old Honda Lump they would have been lower midfield and had designed the aero of the car to compensate and get them there. With the Mercedes engine giving then 60-80 bhp extra, the fantastic aero means they are lightning quick. Add to this they aren’t running with KERS installed and they can ballast/balance the car perfectly.

      It’s not surprising they are quick!

  11. I think the Brawn GP car really is one of the fastest at the moment.

    Some say they are running light to attract sponsorship but with the start of the season so close if they turn up at Melbourne and are at the back then it would just scare sponsors off again. The only sponsorship deals which could be signed before the start of the season are ones which are already virtually done, and these would have been lined up before the takeover. Brawn has already said they are financially okay for 2009 so it is sponsorship for 2010 and onwards they will need and performance in races not tests will be what affects these.

    Also having started late they have such limited testing available that it would be foolish to compromise what little testing they do have just to make the headlines for a couple of weeks.

    We must remember that Honda gave up on the 2008 season so they could focus on their 2009 car a lot earlier than everyone else, and that this is the first car Ross Brawn has overseen from the start. Given the scale of the rule changes this year would anyone really have been surprised if a team had discovered better ways to adapt to the changes and gone considerably quicker than everyone else?

    If Honda had turned up to the first test with this sort of performance given these factors no one would have been surprised.

    Honda will be kicking themselves when they see what could have been, but as has been pointed out they had to be seen to cut costs in the current economic climate. If they hadn’t followed the Earthdream idea with no sponsors for the last two years they would not have had to foot the whole bill themselves so could possibly have justified keeping their F1 team going.

  12. I can anticipate the gloating of the Hamilton-knockers saying that Button is the better driver. It is just a fact that if a car is not in the top 3, the driver will not be WDC. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t think Button deserves to luck out in a good car. He’s not naturally good and has made bad decisions and been a waste of space. It’s a shame for Lewis who is the best driver on the grid and deserves a top 3 car. I am bracing myself for the triumphalism (if that’s a word). I really hope McLaren fix their problems so that we see AGAIN what a brilliant driver Lewis is! The doubters are still out there.

    1. I don’ think you can honestly say Hamilton is the ‘best driver on the grid’.

      He is better than Button though.

    2. I don’t think that have ever seen anyone say Button is a better driver than Hamilton, so I’m not sure where you got that from.

      A good driver in a **** car is still a good driver. And lets face it, just about anyone can win in a good car (Flippy, I’m looking at you). Just means the car is better, is all.

    3. Think your comments are somewhat harsh. Button’s made risky decisions yes, but at least he’s actually made decisions unlike someone who’s pretty much had a path set out for him. A waste of space is definately unjustified – the fact he is still in F1 is testament he’s not a waste of space, you don’t stay in F1 if you are.

      And I’ve said it before, just because you have a top car doesn’t automatically mean you will be WDC. It still takes the driver to bring the car home.

      I fail to see how McLaren fixing their problems will make Hamilton doubters see any other way – surely if McLaren have problems and Hamilton still shines through, that would be better, no?

    4. I also think your coments are unfounded. I’m a Lewis fan and therefore McLaren, but I will be backing Brawn GP this season. Jenson has been fullish with some of his career moves, but is a very good driver, very evenly matched with Rubens. However good they are in the early rounds I think they’ll struggle with development as the season goes on. Whereas McLaren will soon get back to pace.

  13. I think the BGP001 – 2009 is a genuinely fast car. Lets face it, they would need to take a lot out of the car to run at such a faster pace than their rivals to render the car structurally unsound. Mercedes should have access to their data, and I mean fuel load and car weight.

  14. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    13th March 2009, 9:41

    It’s testement to British engineering (and a little bit of German i guess) that Brawn GP have got an off the shelf engine and made their car instantly quick & reliable. Even if they’re running light or low fuel, it all looks very promising for Oz.

  15. honda made no bones over the past two years that all effort was going into the 2009 car, that along with ross brawn’s proven f1 record are we really to be surprised??

  16. If Brawn GP really are that fast….

    Then we are in for a cracking Oz GP, and i for one cannot wait. I was trying to explain the exictment i’m feeling to my fiancee (who got into F1 last year, thanks to Lewis, Nando and all the Wet Races!!), i’m literally jumping like a little kid watching Lazy Town.

    Regardless of weather you think JB or RB are the best drivers ever, it will just be nice to see how they have to cope with the pressiure if they are genuine frontrunners for the early part of the season. We know JB likes to be at the front, look at his career before F1, his Winning MO is to win from the front. And RB was usually playing second fiddle to Schumi, how will he react if he thinks he has a genuine opportunity to be #1.

    OK, i’m sure that we all expect Ferrari and BMW to develop faster over the season and create a performance gap between themselves and the field, but in the first 6 races, at the moment, you have to say that on Long Run Pace we could have 8 different race winners from BMW, Ferrari, Brawn and Toyota

    When did we last have that kind of scenario??

    (who know’s about McLaren, we’ll wait until Qualifying to judge them)

  17. @ S Hughs “Jensons not naturally a good driver” I’ll think you’ll find that amongst the paddock jensons style of driving is reagrded as incredibly gifted (Natural). There is no bigger fan of lewis than me ( his home in tewin is 10 mins from mine) but to describe him as the best driver on the grid is to say the least generous, if Mclarens problems persist then perhaps he can prove himself the best this season but he has so far benefited from enormous support often to his team mates demise. I think Jenson absolutley deserves to “Luck out” in a decent car this year and I say good luck to the Brawn boys and girls this season, the sport needs mixing up this year!!

    1. Not far from me then Colin!

      I agree that is very harsh to attack Jenson’s talent as a racing driver, and would suggest it’s maybe verging into the realms of trolling, to be honest. Take the blinkers off an realise that there are 19 other drivers out there, several of whom are easily able to give Lewis a run for his money.

      He has a beautifully smooth style, very reminiscent of Damon Hill’s. It’s just a style such as this requires an equally smooth car in which to operate, and he hasn’t had that since he was in a Williams BMW 9 years ago, aside from the 2006 blip when the BAR ran very well.

      So the best of luck to Brawn, Button and Barrichello. As far as the car goes, I’m hoping that their pace isn’t just smoke and mirrors. I can’t see why they’d dedicate a whole two weeks to sponsor chasing and not get any real testing in. I believe they’ve been running all sorts of trials; long runs, qualifying, pit stops. I think they’re going to be close the the front in 2 weeks time.

      And is this ends up being Barrichello’s final year in F1, what better way than to head out as a dark horse World Champion?

    2. You guys are quite lucky to have so much F1 star power nearby you- the Andretti stronghold is a few hours down the road from me, but that’s about it.

      I join you in wishing for a great season from Brawn GP- just the fact that they can show up and compete after a rough off-season is great, even better if they can punch high enough for points and podiums.

  18. Hope they are that fast. Would like to see as many teams and drivers to be close. And an independant team to be in front….when was that time?

  19. last time? typo

    1. Jordan 1999. They qualify on the front row several times in 2000 too, and 1998 gave them their first 1-2.

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