Brawn set to extend Button’s contract – but will he get a new team mate?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Should Rubens Barrichello stay at Brawn for 2010?
Should Rubens Barrichello stay at Brawn for 2010?

On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix it emerged Jenson Button had accepted a pay cut in the region of ??12-15m to stay at Brawn GP following the withdrawal of Honda.

Now, with a healthy lead in the world championship, he is tipped to sign a new multi-year deal with Brawn.

Button looks set to stay – but will Rubens Barrichello remain as his team mate?

Barrichello at Honda and Brawn

Rubens Barrichello’s F1 future was written off at the end of last season as many expected the most experienced F1 driver ever to be dropped by Honda in favour of sponsor-friendly GP2 racer Bruno Senna.

But after Honda put its team up and Brawn took over, Barrichello’s F1 career was saved.

By the end of this year he’ll have amassed 284 Grand Prix starts. Another full season in 2010 could but him past the 300 mark. But will he get another contract extension?

Barrichello joined Honda in 2006. He was largely out-performed by Button in their first two years as team mates, but Barrichello turned the tables last, most notably with an excellent podium finish in the streaming wet British Grand Prix.

However Button has beaten him in all six races so far this year, taking five wins and a third place. Barrichello has said he felt the modifications made to the BGP001 at the Spanish Grand Prix better suited his driving style, but he is yet to make that improvement count on race day.

After the Spanish race Barrichello revealed his frustration with his race strategy, which left him vulnerable to being passed by Button, leading to suggestions that Brawn was favouring its championship leader. The team rejected the claims.

It isn’t necessarily the case that if Barrichello is under-performing Brawn might seek to replace him. He continues to display the qualities that made him the perfect number two to Michael Schumacher – even if he is adamant that his contractually inferior status to Schumacher at Ferrari is not being replicated with Button at Brawn.

A new team mate for Button?

If Brawn did want to replace Barrichello, to whom might they turn?

They aren’t likely to be short of suitors. Most F1 drivers are due to have their contracts renewed this year, including Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg and (presuming the Ferrari rumours aren’t true) Fernando Alonso.

Outside F1 we find a crop of promising talent including Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi, Paul di Resta (linked to Mercedes via the DTM, but likely to be disadvantaged by sharing the same nationality as Button) and Romain Grosjean (though likely to end up at Renault).

Are any of these drivers a better prospect for the team than Barrichello? Or should he get to stay with the team and become the first driver to start more than 300 races?

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84 comments on “Brawn set to extend Button’s contract – but will he get a new team mate?”

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  1. I would have Bruno Senna or Lucas di Grassi.

    Both are very quick and where top drivers in GP2 last year. Both Had F1 test experience and seem like quick learners.

    Id rather have Senna in the car, but you cant overlook di Grassi.

    1. @HounslowBusGarage Yes he does drive for team Ireland… see if you can work out where he’s from :-P

  2. Love to see Rubens win a few races this year, then for 2010 alonso to Ferrari and Massa to Brawn.

    1. I can’t see Rubens winning a race this year. He’s past it. Button is out driving him and the Brawn is too reliable

    2. Massa is great at Ferrari and has shown flashes of brilliance.
      I think though that he would sink as a driver in any other team…

  3. 1994fanatic
    28th May 2009, 22:04

    Also that dude that was talking about braun razors, I remember Tyrell I think they were running around with their sponsorship before. I miss Ken, he was great. Anyways whats with that shady looking beardish thing Button has on his face. He may drive the coolest cars on earth but atleast I can grow a good looking beard, Ha! He seems like a nice enough guy though so good for him. Yo Keith, the guy that runs this newly found great website, wanna write a column to see who the best F1 pairing has been and see the comments about that?

  4. I’ve got nothing against Barichello, but I’m just sick of seeing the same old faces in F1. Sign Senna. Lets see what he’s got.

  5. If Brawn did want to replace Barrichello, to whom might they turn?

    Kimi, no doubt for me.

  6. I believe Barrichello should stay.

    But. If brawn do fire him, what about Sato?

    He was just getting good when his team was jettisoned.

  7. I agree that there is no need to replace Ruebens now, he can keep going for another year at least. But having said that, speculating who will be in the 2nd BGP-002 is rather exciting.

    Many things have been said about Bruno Senna, he’s good, but I think his name makes a lot of difference, same can be said about Piquet. If they are going for a young driver, they should go for Rosberg. I think he would be perfect for Brawn. Nico is a very raw talent, Williams have failed to nurture him, in the same way they’ve failed in the past with the likes of Montoya, but in Ross Brawn, they have the perfect tutor. Doing well for Brawn could be Nico’s stepping stone to a future seat in a Mclaren, unless he’s already going there next season.

    Alonso to Brawn? Some people are quick to say that it will be 2007 all over again, I beg to differ. I don’t think Jenson is the spoilt brat that Lewis is, and Ross Brawn isn’t Ron Dennis. It would be brilliant to see the both of them in a the team, but I think Alonso has a deal with Ferrari…which would be even better.

    Can’t really choose who is going to Brawn…Kimi and Massa dont have deals for 2010 do they?…

  8. Brawn Gp at the moment are in the boxed seats. Both drivers are performing very well, in a car strong on all kinds of race tracks. At the beginning of the season, Ross Brawn had the ideal opportunity to drop Rubens Barrichello. Bruno Senna was just one of several names suggested at the time, but most people believed that Barrichello would go.
    In keeping Rubens, Ross Brawn showed his loyalty and commitment to his old Ferrari driver. Ross Brawn knows what he needs to win championships, and that is two
    dependable drivers who score points at every grands prix possible. Drivers who seldom make mistakes.
    Bringing in a young rookie is risky, even if his last name is Senna. For one, they lack experience and are often full of ambition with a point to prove. For every Hamilton or Rosberg there comes along five Scott Speed’s. Drivers who spend the majority of their first years wrapped around piles of broken carbon fibre.
    As for Fernando Alonso, I feel that is a dead end. The Spaniard got seriously burned at McLaren, and will be extremely wary of straying too far away from Flavio Briatore’s team. His bond with Briatore and Renault must not be underestimated.
    Raikkonen maybe as possibility, but also doubtful. For him to leave Ferrari, the Scuderia would have to kick him out. I firmly believe that Kimi would sooner retire than drive for somebody else. I just can’t see it happening.
    My pick if Rubens left, Nico Rosberg….

  9. I think Rubens already gave Peter Windsor the nod if he has not already got a contract when they played golf in the US in the last off season. They need an experienced development driver as Windsor himself has said and anyway “American” driver fits Rubens. They might look for a good ol boy or Tom Cruise prototype but it won’t be to be the leader in year 2010.

    Brawn has to get sponsorship soon or they will likely be toast when the Honda money expires. And what happened to the issue of FOTA blackballing their revenue share?

    1. i don’t know why everyone keeps going on about ‘brawn needs sponsorship soon’

      because they don’t, they have enough capital to see them through to the end of the 2010 season.

      so instead of accepting offers for short term solutions right now, they are pushing for big deals with big companies for 3-5 year contracts, that’s money that will see the business survive for many years, not just for now.

  10. Here’s a curve-ball: if there are so many contracts up for renewal with several other teams, what’s to stop BMW or any of the others snapping up Senna instead of Brawn??

    I think they should keep Barrichello, for all the reasons stated above. Button is “only” 29, so is good for another 3-4 years minimum, and Brawn GP has stated that they want to stitch him up to the end of his career.

    That gives plenty of time to “replace” Rubens, but only after he retires at the end of 2010. This year might’ve looked easy, but next year will be a challenge and they need his experience!

  11. HounslowBusGarage
    29th May 2009, 9:19

    @ Tommy B
    Yes, but it’s still slightly confusing as Adam Carroll was born in Portadown, Nothern Ireland. Concedo Nulli’s comment has him as a ‘Brit’, so I wasn’t sure.

    1. ConcedoNulli
      29th May 2009, 17:06

      He is Northern Irish as stated on his web site- Northern Ireland you know as in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – therefore British. With a similar background I should know.

  12. Things can change , but as it stands , I think Brawn will want to keep the same drivers , simply because they have shown the capability of a one-two finish , and while Rubens would no doubt dearly love to beat Jenson , the way it is at present is working well for them.

  13. for sure rubens will go. i love him and his driving style but money talks. Senna will be in that seat next year as he will bring sponsors and thats it really. plus, a senna competing for wins is something that not even the hullabaloo of Lewis Hamiltons entry into the sport brought.

  14. If Brawn is thinking long term/fresh face like many said above, it’s more logical that instead of replacing Rubens for a newbie that they can work with, it’s more logical that they keep Rubens and replace Button.

    I’ll explain. If they keep Rubens with a new guy, they can work the new guy long term and still have Rubens technical knowledge since Rubens is clearly the best car “set uper”. Keeping Button only because he is fast and a new face won’t do any good since Button is fast WITH rubens setups.

    1. james moreton
      30th May 2009, 2:47

      fabio.. your right on the money keep rubins let jenson go its obvious to me that without rubens setup and vast technical knowledge-jenson would fall behind experience is everything in f1,the only thing would be who to replace jenson.. bruno senna would turn the brawn cars into scrap

  15. Michael Baker
    29th May 2009, 22:05

    Well, look at the facts.
    Mclaren (Mercedes) are raising questions about the performance of Kovalinen, so in reality he could be a potential candidate.

    Alonso is out of contract at the end of the year,

    Heidfeld will be looking for a drive.

    In reality these are the three most likely candidates to make moves in F1, but with the new F2 series returning this year, and the other Formulas who knows.

  16. HounslowBusGarage
    29th May 2009, 22:18

    @ Concedo Nulli
    yes, I accept that. But why then is Adam Carroll driving for Team Ireland?

    1. Michael Baker
      29th May 2009, 22:37

      I agree, Is he English, or Finian?

  17. james moreton
    30th May 2009, 2:38

    to get rid of rubens barichello would be the biggest mistake brawn could make hes the man with the most experience and jenson wouldnt be where he is today without help from rubens, youl all see in the next few races, and who would step in his pants if he was to leave? .. nobody is good enough in my opinion!!

  18. “We’d love to have him because he (Alonso) is the best. Of all the drivers right now, he is the only one that I see as totally complete, as Michael was.” –Ross Brawn 2008

  19. narain karthikeyan linked to

    manor f1 / campos f1 / usf1 / williams !

    the 31 year old indian , backs the biggest nation, and motorsport hunger people !!

    he has won many races in a1gp recently, and he will definitely find a way back into F1 with the teams !

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