Don’t write off the season just yet

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Can this man stop Jenson Button?
Can this man stop Jenson Button?

Brawn’s rivals headed to Barcelona with high hopes of pegging back the flying BGP001s.

Instead Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello motored serenely to a straightforward one-two.

Button now has four wins from five starts. But I don’t think we should give up hope of seeing a close battle for the championship just yet.

Vettel’s masked potential

So far we’ve seen a five-race snapshot of a 17-round championship. The one driver who looks most likely to challenge Button for the championship – Sebastian Vettel – has been constrained by a mixture of misfortunes that I don’t think will persist throughout the season.

At Melbourne he was on course for a podium before that collision with Robert Kubica. The stewards chose (harshly, in my view) to hand down a ten-place penalty that compromised him for the Malaysian Grand Prix. That single moment at turn three in Melbourne spoiled his first two races.

Vettel then won commandingly in the rain in China. At Bahrain he had 6.5kg more fuel on board than Button and still out-qualified the Brawn driver. But the opening lap worked out as badly for Vettel as it could have done – Button squeezed past at the start and succeeded in placing Lewis Hamilton’s KERS-equipped McLaren as a buffer between them.

Surprisingly, a similar turn of events unfolded at Barcelona. This time Vettel didn’t out-qualify Button but he still lapped within 0.1s of him despite carrying 5.5kg more fuel. However, once again, Vettel got stuck behind a KERS car – this time Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.

This might all sound like I’m making excuses for Vettel’s performance and, to an extent, that’s true. But the point is this: these small problems have masked Vettel’s potential. Button will be very fortunate if he gets through an entire season without suffering similar frustrations.

A few drops less fuel in qualifying, a stewards decision that could have gone either way, and this championship could be looking very different.

The development race

It remains to be seen how well the teams will develop their cars over the course of the season. But there’s no mistaking that Red Bull designer Adrian Newey has an exceptional pedigree for developing cars to meet new regulations. He talked about how he enjoys taking on to big rules changes in a recent interview:

Previous to this year the biggest change we had of any significance was 2005 when the front wing was raised and the diffusers were restricted more, which was a sort of medium size change. Before that, you really have to go back to 1998 before we had the last largest change.

In 1998 his McLaren MP4/13 stomped all over the opposition. And in 2005 his MP4/20 won more races than anything else, suffering only from unreliability that, more often than not, was traced back to the Mercedes engine.

The RB5 has got off to a strong start and it’s set to get stronger – Newey has been working on an implementation of the ‘double diffuser’ which could be ready as soon as the next race at Monte-Carlo. In the wet, the car is already untouchable.

Brawn says its next major upgrade is not due until the German Grand Prix in July. The team has started to attract sponsorship and has a budget for the rest of the season, but you have to wonder whether they will be able to develop their car as quickly as their rivals.

As Damon pointed out yesterday with four wins and a third Button is off to one of the best starts to an F1 campaign ever seen.

But with 120 points still to be won and Vettel only 18 behind, this one is a long way from being over.

74 comments on “Don’t write off the season just yet”

  1. Jonesracing82
    12th May 2009, 12:27

    i hope Vettel is the champ this year, Button hasnt achieved anything in my view until this year when he has what i think at this point has been the best car all season, he had 1 good year in ’04 and thats it!
    some flashes in ’00 but nothing else, Vettel has been a contender for results in a crap car comparative to the top car, (last year)even won a race, is brilliant in the wet!
    he actually reminds me of Stefan Bellof who was sadly killed at the same point in his career as Vettel is at now, he was also young, German, brilliant in the wet (legend has it that Senna was catching Prost at Monaco ’84, not many ppl know that Bellof was catching the pear of them) both have a 6 letter surname, which is a useless stat but meh, Bellof was just too brave for his own good.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      12th May 2009, 12:55

      I am all for Button Jonesracing as he has shown enormous skill thoughout his career and has also shown the value of putting your head down and not whining when things don’t go your way.

      And he waved at me when I screamed out his name at turn 15 of the driver parade at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix!!!

    2. I wouldnt be at all against Vettel taking the title, but I would prefer Button to do it. Button has had far more good results than you suggest there, plus he has had darn awful cars in the last year or two. Vettel hasnt yet had a truly awful car, last year’s Toro Rosso was actually pretty decent. Honda was far worse last year than Toro Rosso was, and that Renault Button had in his second year wasnt the best of perfroming cars i have ever seen! on the flip side Button in 06 scored more points in the final half of the season than any other driver if I remember rightly just for one example of what Button has achieved in his career, as well as the examples you mentioned Jonesracing82.

      Of course Button will have had a couple of off years, this is his tenth year – if he had gone all ten without a bad patch I would have been amazed. Vettel is only relatively at the start of his career, and so far has had relatively decent cars, well exceptionally decent in this year’s case! In another eight years I would be willing to wager that Vettel has had an off year or two just like Button.

      No doubt that Vettel is a hugely talented driver, and the best of luck to him this year in his title challenge, but to say Button has achieved nothing until this year really is quite unfair. He wouldnt be leading the title like he is now if he wasnt a very talented driver. Its all well and good having a good car but if you cant get the best out of it you wont win the title, simple. Just as Vettel is showing how good he is the the Red Bull, so Button is in the Brawn. Both have cars which allow them to fight for the title, and both are taking the opportunity given to them, as with Barrichello if he doesnt carry on convincing himself the team are pro Button.

      I personally cannot wait to see Jenson and Vettel have some good scraps this year, as well as Barrichello – I really hope the title is close come the end of the year! Except i hope it falls Buttons way ultimately! it definetely shouldnt be written off in Buttons favour though, not at all – I beleive that the Red Bull is pretty much on Brawns level, Vettel has just been a little unlucky so far not to have fully raced them at the front.

    3. yeah i’m with the other guys on this, button has shown potential from day one, he was the only challenger to the championship in i think 2004 where he finished 3rd behind the two ferraris, since then honda have been promising him a good car and he as been a team player and worked hard with the team, he’s had other offers from teams like renault, but turned them down waiting for this year and this car.

      he is fast and consistent and it’s showing now, he’s paid his dues and he deserves every point he gets.

      vettel is a firecracker, he has MANY years left in him to win more WDC’s than hamilton. he’s a fast bright kid with his head on his shoulders.

  2. Agreed!! Nice article Keith……………

  3. You’re right, with points in Australia and no penalty for Malaysia Vettel would’ve been only a bit behind Button. I kinda forgot about it and I was ready to write the season off.

    What’s most important after those 5 races we’ve had so far, is that the Red Bull cars are on pace with the Brawns and constantly getting better. It can be anytime soon that with a major upgrade on the car it will be them who will be scoring 1-2 wins.

    The championship is still open, but I only wish more drivers/teams would come into the mix, because as of now, even if the Brawns have a bad race, they still come second.

  4. Vettel will win the championship this year as long as the Red Bull stays reliable. No question. Start heading to the bookies now, folks, and place your bets. Fitting KERS to the car (assuming it’s reliable, and with newey that can never be guaranteed lol), then that’s just like insurance for winning the championship. They will utterly dominate, no question.

  5. (legend has it that Senna was catching Prost at Monaco ‘84, not many ppl know that Bellof was catching the pear of them)

    Yes, it’s a fact.
    Because it was actually Bellof who had the fastest lap of the race (!).

  6. And Keith, statistics aren’t on your side, either.

    Anyone who’s won at least 4 of the first 5 races have won the title every single time.

    And I don’t think the Red Bull is necessarily untouchable in the wet either – James Allen said that Brawn included an update in Barcelona specifically to help their car in wet conditions.

    As for luck – there’s a saying that goes, “you make your own luck.” There’s a reason why Michael Schumacher never seemed to suffer any misfortune in his title-winning seasons – Ross Brawn. Who owns the team right now? ;)

  7. Yes you have to say that Barwn’s excellent strategy, and Red Bull’s bad strategy (or bad luck) is the real story here. Why didn’t Red Bull let Vettel run longer in the second stint when he had more fuel?

    Plus, Button has a habit of making it stick when it matters, like on the third stint in Barcelona.

    History does point to a Button championship, but there’s still 12 races…

  8. There’s a reason why Michael Schumacher never seemed to suffer any misfortune in his title-winning seasons – Ross Brawn

    Haha, putting it like this makes no sense.
    Not to suffer misfortune has been the key to every won championship ever – ’cause that’s why you win them in the first place.
    Ferrari lost the championship in 1997, ’98, ’99, ’05 and ’06 despite having Ross Brawn onboard.

    So all in all, they’ve won as many championships with Ross as they’ve lost. Heh :]

    1. So all in all, they’ve won as many championships with Ross as they’ve lost. Heh :]

      Damon, look at where Ferrari was in 96 (before Ross came) and 97 (after he came). Sure, they lost the championships, but there was a marked leap in performance. Do you think they’d have improved that much if Ross weren’t around? There’s a reason Michael Schumacher personally invited Ross over to Maranello.

      Bottom line – in the times Ross and Adrian have faced off for championships, Ross has won 7 (95, 99, 00, 01, 02, 03, 04), Adrian has won 4 (94, 96, 97, 98). Ross lost some, but he won more.

  9. I think Vettel is a much better driver than Button. What’s Button done to show he’s exceptional? Win in the best car? Anyone can do that. Vettel has extracted a lot out of inferior cars, very similar to what Alonso and Schumacher do/did. Button simply struggles when the car isn’t good.

    However, I do believe that the season is starting to fall away from the rest of the field. Even if Red Bull improve, they’ll need bad luck to befall Button in a couple of races. Given the car’s reliability, I doubt that’ll happen…

    1. I agree with this. Button is good, but not great. There’s half a dozen drivers on the grid that are equal or better than him. I’d put Button on the same kind of level as Massa and Webber, at the moment.

    2. Scott Joslin
      12th May 2009, 14:19

      I disagree Hammad, you ask how easy is it to win in the best car, but Barrichello is struggling! Are you saying that Schumacher and Senna are not worthy champions because each year they won they had the best car? Come on!

      Vettle has driven pretty good cars, he has certainly never driven one of the Honda’s from the last couple of years where as Button did and therefore deserves a decent car for once.

      Button’s driving style is also widely acclaimed – he is super fast and yet consistent and extremely good at bringing the car home for points. Sure he is not massively aggressive like a Hamilton or Kimi, but that is not always the best way to win a race or a championship for that matter as Alain Prost proves.

      Vettle on the other hand has been in cars that has the potential to win races very early on in his career, something that Button never had a chance to do. So please lets not discredit Jenson as a nothing driver just because you “like” Vettle. Vettle has thrown a lot of good points away this season as Keith points out in this article. Being drawn in the accident in Melbourne and then struggling to make his race strategy work in Bahrain and Spain because he could not find away past the guy in front of him despite having a faster car.

      As Keith points out this season isn’t over, but I don’t think that the drivers will have the single largest impact on the outcome of the title, the development race will win this. If the Redbull gets its double defuser and is able to get both cars to the front of the grid in qualifying and the race then we could see a closer 2nd half of the season.

    3. I also disagree Hammad, not just anyone can win in the best car – thats been proved time and time again when one guy from a team has done really well to take the title, and their teammate hasnt quite has the same success.

      I wouldnt describe Vettel as extracting a lot from inferior cars either. He did really well in the Toro Rosso last year no doubt, and took every opportunity when it came, but its was not the worst car on the grid by a long way – nowhere near the leagues of Honda. He has had relatviely good cars so far. And lets not forget he had more than one first lap incident in the early part of the season.

      Plus he has only been in F1 for two years, there is no way he can be compared to the way Schumacher and Alonso have extracted from inferior cars, especially when the ‘inferior’ car he had was not that bad a car.

      Just one point to note – in Bahrain Jenson lost a place to Hamilton off the line, which would have majorly compromised his strategy throughout the race had he stayed there. He knew he had to pass him to have any chance of winning and that is what he did the following lap – with a really quite impressive move on a car with KERS. In Spain, Vettel lost a place to Massa off the line which would majorly compromise his strategy should he stay there, 63 laps later he was still behind the KERS car. I’m not suggesting Vettel didnt do all he could to get past, but Button’s excellent driving this year is why he is leading the championship and not Barrichello in the same car.

  10. It will need Vettel to actually win a couple more races before we can say it is an open season, and if there are a couple of races where the Brawn cars fail to get on the podium, that will also be leaving room for Alonso, Massa and even Webber to take the win instead, so it isn’t even looking like a two-horse race towards the end of the year, which is no bad thing.

  11. It’d be great to have a stat showing championships won from the largest point deficit.

  12. It’d be great to have a stat showing championships won from the largest point deficit.

    Raikkonen in 2007 comes to mind i guess.


  13. My opinion is that button only needs three or maybe four good races and a little bit of Vettels misfortune and he has the championship in his pocket. Massa and Hamilton both said that even if they start to win that they could not get the WDC because Brawn will always be in the points.
    I for one do not like Button to much because he dosen+t give out a carma, but for sure is a good driver that never had a winnig car like he has now. Vettel on the other hand looks like a fun and simple guy, and his approach with the media is much more truer and more simple.

  14. This might all sound like I’m making excuses for Vettel’s performance and, to an extent, that’s true.

    I think so. Sebastian needs to deliver some aggressive drives to show that he can win the championship, as Jenson done at Bahrein with car that doesn´t seems to be the best at that race on that moment.

    However, once again, Vettel got stuck behind a KERS car – this time Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.

    He could learn how to do that looking slightly to the old guy at his side in the garage. The man fought against Lewis at Malaysia and against Super Fern at Barcelona.

    Anyway there some talk about the way Red Bull did treat Mark Webber after his great race and podium in Spain Sunday:

    There were reports afterwards of a little acrimony in the RBR camp, and specifically that Helmut Marko – the man behind all Red Bull’s racing programmes and the mentor of Vettel – was not exactly happy that his boy had been demoted by his own team mate…

    — Adam Cooper

    James Allen at his blog has reported the same thing:

    Interesting cameo in the Red Bull area after the race where someone close to Mark Webber, who drove brilliantly to leapfrog Massa and Vettel and grab a podium, said, ‘I’m glad someone here is happy,” implying that the place was like a morgue because the chosen one had not got the anticipated result…

    — James Allen

    1. hitchcockm00
      12th May 2009, 15:55

      Bad moods from Vettel’s camp are to be expected after a race like that.
      Imagine the frustration of spending the entire race stuck behind a much slower car, knowing you could be challenging for the win and that your driver just can’t find a way past. Then to pit on the same lap as the slow car as well!

      I’m sure it wasn’t bad blood aimed at Webber, just a general bad mood at a very frustrating drive from one of the driver.

  15. I like both drivers, but when I got their autographs in Malaysia, Button was a lot more affable – and we actually talked! If anything, he seemed more genuine than Vettel, but I’m sure that’s not the case.

    1. Yeah, button was the only driver who actually spoke to me too. I don’t collect signatures, but I do like to go and take a picture or see them in person or whatever.

      When you see these guys sign autographs, they usually don’t even look where they are signing. Button was actually having a laugh with the crowd.

  16. And one more thing – Button could’ve been held up by a KERSed Hamilton in Bahrain, just like Vettel. But he passed him in brilliant fashion. We still need to see that this season from Vettel.

  17. Fastest lap Monaco 1984 – Ayrton Senna 1’54.334
    official f1 site

  18. alonso should stay put at renault, thats the safest place for him to be. i think this is all a shoemaker conspiracy. he wants a drive again. otherwise whats he doing hanging around in the ferrari garage all the time??? is he a mechanic?? hasn’t he already wrecked formula1 enough. imo shoemaker must be banned from f1 races. its really annoying & infuriating to see his big jawed face everytime. i will not be surprised if he does make a re-entry into f1. ferrari will give a dumb reason. kimi’s lost his motivation & schoemaker is the only driver to have driven a car which is full of fuel. i have a strong feeling kimi will quit at the end of the year. he says he admires james hunt & he does remind me of james hunt. even james hunt quit early. but james hunt got himself a decent job as a commentator. he performed really well with murray walker. but who will give kimi a job as a commentator??? his mumble is very difficult to understand. BBC perhaps??? wouldn’t that be nice??? kimi & mika commentating in english for the BBC?????

  19. So does completely ignoring Barrichello sitting in 2nd place in the championship mean that everyone has accepted that he’s the number 2 driver at Brawn?

  20. My two cents on this subject is about rubens.

    his person skill and knowledge of the car is what helped brawn set the pace and button win.

    all weekend button had been struggling with the car until they looked at rubens setup and followed suit, the whole team have been talking about their debt to rubens for the car setup this weekend.

    rubens *would* have won last weekend if the 3rd set of tires were better, he had a bad start in australia where he would have also been strong and two other unlucky moments that’s seen him to second or third place.

    he is still second in the WDC and only 1 DNF by button away from being in the lead.

    sure, i really like button and i rate him highly, and i rate vettel even higher, but you can’t deny that rubens is also in a very good position, same car as button, having some bad luck at the moment that he’s really pushing hard to get through. he dove the crap out of that car last weekend, lapping a second faster than button at times, really getting the job done.

    I’m still impress with the old boy and think he’ll pick up a few wins this year and is still just as much of a contender.

    until the rest catch up (and until webber gets more skill) it’s a 3 horse race IMO (button, vettel, rubens)

    rubens is the hungriest, he’s putting more in than anyone out there.

    1. I absolutely agree with you Todd. I can’t remember if this was reported here, but there was some agreement in Brawn garage that guaranteed that Rubens would put less fuel than Jenson in Q3 (could be some gift for his work with the set up through the weekend!), but there was some miscalculation and Rubens start heavier than Jenson and this could be the reason why he lost the pole.

      His start was awesome, showing how he was hunger to win Sunday.

      In fact, he was the architect of Brawn and Jenson win on the weekend. I never saw a driver who deserved to win a race more than him in the last weekend.

  21. Barrichello is not struggling! He’s just had bad luck. Possibly even been the victim of a team conspiracy, but that’s besides the point. I do agree though that Button is probably a better driver than him, however much I wish that was false. Vettel’s always had a good car, are you sure? I remember he performed well for STR in 2007, and scored that pole and victory for them in 2008. It wasn’t that great a car.

    Button, on the other hand, had the 2nd best car in 2004. Did he score a victory? I don’t think so. His win in 2006 was facilitated by Alonso’s retirement. And since when did Button impress in a weak Honda? He never did anything to make people try and snatch him from there, and last year he was outperformed by Barrichello by miles. I’m not saying he’s a bad driver. He’s just not as great as people make him out to be.

    1. Vettel’s Toro Rosso was nowhere near the best car, but it was also nowhere near the worst. Honda, Force India, Williams, and sometimes even Red Bull and Toyota looked worse than that Toro Rosso last year. Bourdais didnt do too badly in it either, he was right on Vettel’s pace in Monza, just the grid problem stopped him from making it a double podium.

      Button in 2004 failed to win a race not for want of trying, I remember more than one mechanical failure from either the lead or near the front. and only three wins that year came from non Ferraris – Trulli at Monaco (Button was second, and there were the multiple incidents that race also which involved at least one Ferrari just from memory!), Raikkonen in Spa (Kimi drove the wheels off that Mclaren – not at all suprising he won at Spa he is good there) and Montoya in Brazil. He might have been in arguably the second best car, but it was a long way in second to Ferrari.

      His win in 2006 was not solely facilitated by Alonso’s retirement. It certianly helped, but Button had come from just as far down the grid as Alonso had, and Alonso, if i remmeber rightly, was not that far ahead when he had those wheel problems. Nor did Button find himself in the lead with an overly short distance to go. I could be wrong on this but I read somewhere that it was the only time a driver has won after recieving a grid penalty? And it was hefty ten place one at that!

      I also dont beleive he was outperformed by Barrichello by miles last year – almost all of Barrichello’s points difference over Button came from his Silverstone podium. He obviosuly outperfromed him there, but generally i dont think there was that much difference.

      This is the first year which Button has really been in a car capable of challenging for the title, and he isnt wasting that opportunity at all.

      A do agree with you Hammad that Barrichello isnt particularly struggling, however some of his bad luck has been down to him. Button hasnt put a foot wrong all year, not really, Rubens on the other hand was very lucky to finish in second in Aus – he hit at least two cars during the race, and the other races has just been that little bit slower which has enable Button to go through and win. I think Barrichello still has a good shot at the title, but he needs to focus on himself, and not that Button is so far doing better than him – if that makes sense.

    2. I think you need to get your facts right mate, in 2004, the Ferrari’s were so quick and reliable nothing could ever beat them except for unusual circumstances. By the time Ferrari stopped developing, McLaren had caught right up, which prevented Button having a chance to score his first win. And in 2006 you have to remember that he was catching Alonso at more than a second a lap before Alonso crashed out, the win was almost a certainty for Button, Alonso later admitted the same. Also, in 2007 Button was recognised for out-performing his car and out-performing Barrichello as well. Before that have you forgotten late-2004 when Williams tried everything to re-sign him after he impressed everyone. I think your seeming dislike for Button is getting in the way of your judgment.

  22. Oh yeah, also forgot to mention. Briatore dumped Button for Alonso, and from the looks of things, quite rightly. Just shows that he’s not in the same league doesn’t it? (response to Scott Joslin)

    1. That’s one of the great “What if?”s of F1. All you can say is that Button roundly trounced Fisicella, as did Alonso. The Renault was a better car in Alonso’s year – witness Fisicella’s win at the first race in Australia.

      Why didn’t Briatore ditch Fisicella and keep Button with Alonso? Apart from the fact that Fisi is Italian?

      Button has consistently beaten all his team mates except Baricello last year (but not the year before) and that was in a year when Button knew they weren’t developing the car and Baricello got a podium with a lucky safety car situation.

      I’m not claiming Button’s the best, but he is very good and has shown his class this year.

    2. Scott Joslin
      12th May 2009, 19:43

      Hammad – Great lets use Briatore’s judgement to decide who is the better of the two drivers – only if we ask Flavio why he is currently employing possibly the worst driver on the Grid in Piquet?? He is obviously a great judge of talent!

      While you seem to have made this a comparison between Alonso and Button which we never were talking about – I was responding to your comments about how Jenson in your opinion is a “rubbish” driver – part of the reason Jenson was dropped by Flavio in favour for Alonso could be due to the fact that Alonso was managed by Flavio??? Or to the possibly that Jenson was too good looking and damaged Flavio’s ability to attract all the girls!!

      I could go on but they would only be as weak as your Briatorie response.

    3. Scott:

      Indeed; I remember Flavio being quite annoyed at his yacht being upstaged by Button’s at Monaco.

  23. Martin Bell
    12th May 2009, 15:02

    There’s sooooooooo much talk this season about the development race and how everybody is going to swamp the Brawn team. Perhaps we should heed Hamilton’s comments about how Mclaren’s “upgrades” haven’t made the car any faster!! With the testing ban, it’s not a given that any series of upgrades from any team will translate in to more speed. Perhaps more consistency, or better tyre use, or improved driveability, but not Brawn-catching leaps in performance. We also saw this weekend that “improvements” may not work as well for both drivers in a team, indeed, it may slow one of them down. The concensus was that a straightforward race in Barcelona would be the best indicator of how the rest of the season will pan out. I think we now have some definitive answers.

  24. @ Slova265
    Correct indeed. Bellof had the second fastest race lap.
    Which isn’t really much of a difference. ;)

    So does completely ignoring Barrichello sitting in 2nd place in the championship mean that everyone has accepted that he’s the number 2 driver at Brawn?

    Heh, now that’s a good question. It quite looks so.
    BUT, on the other hand, since JB and Bubens are team-mates it is not natural to call them rivals right away. They’ve been partners – together on a new team, carrying one flame together. It is not easy to develop a rivalry just yet.

    But it will/may come to that when it’s mid-season and they’re equal on points.
    As of today, as is the nature of F1, it is the battle between two different teams: Brawn vs. Red Bull, and therefore Button vs. Vettel.

  25. season is over.
    a fantastic result for mr brawn – ex williams, ex-ferrari ex-honda and this year he is history – can win in every situation. hats of for him mainly because of the honda financial crisis.

    we will have the usual
    2 wins from barrichello – pay off to set things out.
    4 wins for alonso, ferrari, hamilton.
    and rest is for vettel to take – he still has next year to become youngest champion.

    but unfortunately the season is over: too much politics and technical discussions added with a brawn domination.

    there’s always next year. hopefully not f1 anymore :]

  26. If people think back to 1991 when Mansell went back to Williams after his stint at Ferrari he had the strongest car on the grid but due to technical difficulties he had a bad start to the season.
    Once the team got their problems sorted he began to challenge Senna for the title. He came close.

    So the likes of Ferrari, Mclaren and red bull can certainly make a challenge in the remaining races of this season.

    Who is to say that BrawnGP are going to be dominant all season anyway.

    I’ve got a feeling they are not going to be near the front in Monaco.

    When you look at the last say 20 years of F1 then Adrian Newey has been to the one to improve his cars from the beginning of the season. Usually with a b spec car, and this season you could say that red bull will have to have a b spec car to work with the double diffuser they need.

    So i think that this season could end up being very close.

  27. With a dozen races to go, Vettel certainly has enough time to catch up with Button. His prowess in the wet races, the implementation of the double diffuser in the next race snd Rubens determination to beat Button and rob the latter of some valuable points will provide a boost to Vettel’s chances to top the points list. The immediate weakness Vettel needs to correct is his overtaking ability; spending too much time smelling the exhaust fumes of the car in front. If that cannot be remedied, please qualify in pole position.

  28. It must be tough for Ferrari to make the call or not on whether to end the ’09 campaign when I firmly believe Kimi had the potential to take the top step on the podium last weekend.

  29. Wasnt the idea behind all the new regulastions for this year to create closer racin and bring the stronger temas like Ferrari and Macca back on par with the rest. But all that has happened is that Brawn is now breaking away even more that McLaren and Ferrari has done in the past.

  30. If Button wins the title this year, he’ll be more than worthy. He’s always been a very good, highly rated driver. You don’t qualify 3rd on the grid ahead of Michael Schumacher at Spa in your first season if you aren’t good. He struggled against Fisichella a little bit in the awful 2001 Benetton, but had the measure of Trulli in the races at Renault the following year. When Briatore dropped him for Alonso, many people in the paddock thought Flavio was nuts.

    Then, in 2003, he outclassed former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and of course in 2004 was best of the rest by a mile, I remember some of his drives that year were outstanding. Then there was the whole saga at the start of 2005 with the illegal fuel system on the BAR, but once the team got over the issue mid-season he nabbed a pole position and scored points and podiums in the last 10 races with a car that was slower than the Renault and McLaren, and probably the Ferrari and Toyota as well, while his team mate (Sato) scored just 1 point.

    In 2006 he of course got his breakthrough in Hungary – although Alonso was leading comfortably at the time, Jenson was catching him and had also fought through from 14th on the grid. It wasn’t a ‘lucky’ win by any stretch of the imagination. And as has been said already he scored more points in I think the last 7 races of year than anyone else.

    The last couple of seasons for Honda were difficult, of course, but in 2007 he was still impressive, particularly in the rain – running 4th after the first lap in Germany, and running in the point in Fuji for the first few laps despite lacking his front wing. His battling drive for points that year in Monza as well was a great performance. Last season he was a bit off colour, but can you blame him? He stuck with the team for years despite offers from Williams, Renault and possibly Ferrari as well, believing that they would one day give him a front running car but it just didn’t happen. He still pretty much matched Barrichello throughout the season though.

    Now that he has got a winning car his confidence is back and he’s driving beautifully. He’s extracting the maximum from the car every weekend and it’s paying off – it’s the culmination of years of hard work and loyalty to the team.

    As for Vettel – there is no doubt he’s a special talent.. His drives for BMW and Toro Rosso in 2007 were very good and of course last year he really emerged as one of the sports finest – although he was pushed by Bourdais on occasion towards the end of the year. I’ve no doubt that one day he will be a World Champion – it could be this year, could be next, could be in 5 years. But he’s young and still likely to get better. Jenson has probably just reached the prime of his career and has a great car – that may not happen again for him. He’s got the opportunity and he’s grabbing it with both hands.

    As a sidenote on the Stefan Bellof/Monaco ’84 issue, yes he was catching Senna and Prost, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Senna and Prost had turbo engines – Bellof didn’t. In the wet a turbo engine is much harder to drive, especially around Monaco. Also, Bellof’s car was lighter and using a fuel which was seen at the time to be illegal (Tyrrell were disqualified from the entire 1984 season, hence Senna having the fastest lap in Monaco) not to mention that Prost never excelled in the wet after Hockenheim ’82 and the speculation that Senna had a damaged car after a heavy moment on the kerbs earlier on in the race. After that race, Bellof never really excelled in the sport in the same way (Brundle also had very impressive results in 1984) before he was tragically killed, though he did apparently have a Ferrari contract for 1986.

    Sorry for the length of this comment!

    1. Couldnt have put that Button account any better

    2. Scott Joslin
      12th May 2009, 19:46

      I am with you all the way on this one Dan! :)

  31. To me the season is already over, just like Flavio pointed out at the beginning of the year. If the FIA implemented the winner takes all rules, Button would be champion in the next two races!

  32. The most analogous season to the one we’re having now was 1998:
    – New technical regulations made one team (McLaren) dominate the field
    – McLaren won not only 4 out of 5 first races (like Brawn this year), but 5 out of 6 first races (Hakinnen won 4)
    – Schumacher retired in Australia, as did Vettel this year
    – Schumacher won the third GP of the season, as did Vettel this year

    Important to note:
    – McLaren’s speed advantage over Ferrari in the first half of the season was larger than Brawn’s advantage over RBR in this year so far
    – Coulthard wasn’t a big threat to Hakkinen; he won only 1 GP all season long, and only in 1 single GP he finished the race ahead of Hakkinen.
    It is save to assume Bubens will do better against Button, isn’t it?

    And as to Vettel vs. Button.
    Vettel certainly isn’t Schumacher (yet?), but Button isn’t exactly Hakkinen either ;)
    And they’ve got Bubens, who is as good or better in Brawn than Coulthard was in McLaren in 1998.

    1. Why do you keep calling him Bubens?

  33. Frankly i don’t quite give a hoot about button – i’d always say he’s just got the best car on the grid!
    Yes, he does bring home the points, but how is he a better driver than the veteran Rubens? I’ve closed all arguements on the spanish GP as that race clearly belongs to Rubens – till ‘dead-minute’ pit changes & a bad selection tire (if u choose to believe both) robbed him of a 10 pointer!
    Button has clearly not seen any ‘real’ challenge – He qualifies easily (no challenge), sits atop the grid (no challenge), and race the best car (no challenge). This is just easy peasy stuff!!
    To be honest, the championship is long gone – there simply is no challenger to the brawns this yr. And with the cap rules for next yr; i think they’ve long won that one along too!!

  34. @ kutigz

    how is he a better driver than the veteran Rubens?

    I’ll answer you with your own quote.

    Button has clearly not seen any ‘real’ challenge


    – He qualifies easily (no challenge),


    Who else but Barrichello could be that “no challenge” you’re talking about? Hehe.

    i’d always say he’s just got the best car on the grid!

    Of course. That’s F1.
    Senna/Prost 1988 – huh?
    Mansell 1992 – huh?
    Hill 1996 – huh?
    Hakkinen 1998 – huh?
    Schumacher 2002/03/04 – huh?

    1. Skills Damon…that killer driver skill an F1 driver should possess! Button as presents rides atop a vehicle that could race by itself and still make top points with only a GPS on board! Easy Peasy!!

  35. I always felt that Jenson Button got the raw end of the deal at Benetton. He had experienced such a promising debut season with Williams, and everybody had such high expectations.
    To add insult to injury, Button then had to witness his replacement at Benetton, Fernando Alonso, now take the rebranded Renault team to two world championships.
    All the while, 2004 aside, struggling with poor equipment. His team mates, including former champion, Jacques Villeneuve, did not exactly succeed in the cars Button drove either. Last year, Villeneuve admitted that the 2003 BAR Honda was the worst F1 car he had ever driven in his life!
    So, Button deserves his fifteen minutes without question. Vettel, on the other hand, is a man there for the duration. He is young, talented, and ambitious in equal measure. On top of that he has personality and charisma, which Michael Schumacher, for all his skills, did not.
    Vettel needs more pole positions. Easier said than done, but at circuits like Monaco and Hungary its is almost a necessity. Though in all fairness, Vettel has made mistakes this season, of which the Kubica incident was one of them. Jenson Button has not made any major errors, and is using the years of experience he has with the superb car he has finally got!
    F1 is always about maximising your advantage.

  36. I completely agree with Keith. In fact I think I even posted something of similar sentiment when someone claimed the season was just about over.

    I’m wondering if BMW is still coming with an update for Monaco though. They keep going back and forth with what they will roll out and then not.

    Monaco coul dbe very different from other races again though. It seems like the cars are in a different pecking order at every track we’ve been this season. Not sure if it’s just the updates or that different cars favor some tracks more than others (like McLaren doesn’t do well on high speed corners, but slow twisty tracks, or ones with long straights should be better)

  37. On top of that he has personality and charisma, which Michael Schumacher, for all his skills, did not.

    Don’t be ridiculous!
    “I’m such an idiot! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!!!”
    [Vettel, Aus’09]

    That’s not what I call charisma.

  38. Mouse_Nightshirt
    12th May 2009, 18:31

    I think it’s quite clear that this season, Vettel has been kersed.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      12th May 2009, 21:29


  39. I hope Vettel wins, because imo this is 2004 again…just because it isn’t ferrari doesn’t mean it’s exciting.

  40. remember in years gone past especially 1998 they were all testing throughout the season unlike the race by race way they do it now.For sure button will be a worthy champion and he may even break some records but he is never going to go down as a great driver as it is the car and everyone can see this.The reality will be late in the season and next year when they aren’t competitive and he will join the other OK drivers who won the title because they had the best car that year ie: damon hill & villenuve.

  41. It’s 2004 all over again, with Button finding himself in the best car on the grid by a country mile, Brawn’s tactical genius to ensure that nobody gets a look in and the bulletproof Mercedes in the back.

    It would have been a lot closer if Vettel hadn’t had the bad luck that he did earlier in the season and I’m sure he’ll be on the podium a good many times in the future, especially if it’s wet, but it’s absolutely certain that Button will be WDC.

    All I hope is that Barichello doesn’t taint things by trying to cover his inadequacies as a driver by accusations of team orders. If he was in the lead, you can bet he’d be pushing Ross to give him the preferential strategy, but he’s not and the dummy is being well and truly spat.

  42. Keith, he was unlucky at some points but he has also been lucky in important moments. In China Vettel won because the safety car was deployed and button lost his advantage. Also, because of the mini race we got in Malasya Button lost ten valuable points. And Sebastian lost six valuable points (or more) in Australia because he lost his cool. So even if I like him and would like him to win I can not agree with you.

  43. I’m a big fan of Jenson’s and totally biased, so I reckon he’s got a great shot. With another four wins from the remaining 12 races, and assuming he scores a few 2nds, a few thirds….he’s a good shot at it.

    Nonetheless Red Bull could (should?) spoil the party in Monaco, and if thier devs keep up the momentum could go thier way. And let’s not forget Toyota who are still around and have a strong car, lots of money and are desperate to win.

    It is entirely possible that this season becomes a three way battle by the time we get to Spa. And what if Ferrari start winning races?

    It ain’t over ’till its over

  44. Webber is my tip for Monaco. He’s always been strong there.

    I’m quite enjoying a season with one team/driver dominating. It’s been a few years and I quite like a bit of variety – seasons that have a lot involve a of luck or mistakes or unexpected factors to determine a champion get a little dull after a while. Just because one team dominates it doesn’t mean that the rest of the racing is boring!

  45. As much as I would like to see Vettel win a title or two,I think Jense really deserves this season’s success.Vettel has plenty more seasons in him and WILL win in time.(but I hope he gives Jense a hell of a fight)

  46. Button is driving the same car as barrichello

    Hamilton is driving the same car as Kovalainen


    1. Well said manatcna!

  47. David (Brazil)
    13th May 2009, 4:05

    Maybe Keith, but I suspect by race 10 Button will be all but home and dry, and the recriminations will start about why this season was so bad. So I’ll get my blame in first: the way FIA bullied teams into KERS and then backed off (a deliberate set-up?) thereby ruining the season for Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW. Leaving two teams/engineers left to exploit the gap, but one, Brawn, too far ahead to allow the other to challenge. And I’d insist on the point that FIA’s mess up would be far worse had they been allowed to keep their rule over WDC being the driver with most wins. This needs to be remembered when we’re assessing FIA’s competence in running this sport.

  48. Jonesracing82
    13th May 2009, 8:47

    i agree Button has shown great skill during his career, but i cant name too many races where he was impressive, before this year that is,he and ruby were nowhere the last 2 years and now they r dominating race weekends, just brings further to light the fact that it’s much more car than driver that governs performance, i am not denying for a second he’d deserve the title should he win it this year……

    1. he and ruby were nowhere the last 2 years

      Because last year they had the second-worst car on the grid and the year before probably the third-worst!

      Button is making the most of what he’s got, he’s beating Barrichello who even made Schumacher sweat, just give the guy some credit!

  49. Keith, you talk of Vettel’s bad luck, much of which – like his poor starts, inability to pass, and clumsy defense of position in Melbourne – have been self inflicted.

    His team mate, however, has had two races ruined through no fault of his own (Melbourne and Bahrain), and would have snared a podium in Malaysia but for the timing of the safety car. If we’re generous and give Webber two sixths and a third for those three races, he’s on 24 points and also within striking distance of Button.

    Unlike Webber, who has made two very ballsy overtaking moves on Alonso and Button to snare podiums, Vettel hasn’t really demonstrated that killer passing ability that the truly great drivers have, and of which world champions are made.

  50. Which ever way you think about it, I think this will be an interesting season…

  51. One thing is for sure..Force India are not challenging many races and still not in Q2.

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