Button, Vettel, Webber, Barrichello: one of these men will be champion (Poll)

Jenson Button's championship lead is in jeopardy

Jenson Button's championship lead is in jeopardy

With Felipe Massa’s crash, Michael Schumacher’s return, BMW quitting the sport and a new FIA president about to be elected, I have a nagging feeling I may have overlooked something…

Oh yeah, there’s a drivers’ championship to be won. Jenson Button may have an 18.5 points lead over Mark Webber, but his car no longer looks capable of challenging for podiums, never mind wins. Can he hold back the charging Red Bulls?

Who will be world champion?

  • Jenson Button (43%)
  • Mark Webber (31%)
  • Sebastian Vettel (19%)
  • Rubens Barrichello (2%)
  • Someone else... (5%)

Total Voters: 2,482

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Here’s an odd thought: Michael Schumacher could be world champion this year. With seven races to go any driver that’s on the grid at Valencia in two weeks’ time could claim the crown.

The statistical likelihood of that happening is a different matter entirely, of course. Realistically it’s Button and the three drivers within 26 points of him – Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello – who are the only likely contenders.

Barrichello’s considerable deficit to Button, the difficulty he has had beating his team mate this year and Brawn’s lack of competitiveness as the season heads into the second half mean his chances are pretty slender too.

Brawn won’t be able to bring him into play to assist Button until he becomes mathematically incapable of winning the championship. However, as Barrichello is lagging behind both the Red Bulls, Brawn are more likely to be able to make use of that before Red Bull can.

The development race

Stop for a moment and marvel at just how unexpected the balance of power is in Formula 1 today. Twelve months ago Red Bull were falling behind their thrusting junior squad, and Brawn were called ‘Honda’ and languishing at the back of the pack.

After dominating the opening races, Brawn are on the back foot, with Red Bull finishing one-two at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

Red Bull’s Silverstone upgrade has moved the RB5 to the head of the field. It included a revised diffuser which successfully combined Adrian Newey unconventional pull rod suspension layout with a full exploitation of the ‘double diffuser’ principle used by Brawn since the beginning of the season.

Brawn faces the classic development dilemma: whether to push on with modifications to its current car, or start getting ready for next year. With limited resources the team might have to compromise its programme for the rest of the year to ensure it is competitive in 2010 – or vice-versa.

It faces the added complication of facing tighter resources next year. Its supply of funds from Honda were intended to be enough to get it through this year, but in 2010 it will have to fend for itself. They are likely to lose Virgin, who are switching allegiances to newcomers Manor (Brawn are paying the price of not breaking ranks with FOTA as the FIA’s Alan Donnelly is alleged to have played a role in the deal).

Circuits and weather

Earlier in the season it seemed as though hotter temperatures favoured the Brawn cars and circuits that put a premium on aerodynamic efficiency favoured the Red Bulls.

But recent events have not run true to that form particularly in the heat of the Hungaroring, where Brawn still struggled with low tyre temperatures.

Looking at the races to come we can expected Red Bull to thrive at Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka. After three poor races Brawn’s competitiveness at any circuit is a concern.

The Malaysian and Chinese rounds at the beginning of the year suggested Red Bull also have an advantage in wet weather.

This raises the prospect of Button having to damage-limit his way to the championship. In order to be sure of the title he needs a minimum of five second places and a fifth. On the strength of his form in the last three races (sixth, fifth, seventh) that looks well out of his reach.

The competition

What’s most exciting about the run-in to the championship is that the title contenders are almost certainly going to have to mix it with other drivers not in the hunt.

Lewis Hamilton proved McLaren are back with an emphatic win at the Hungaroring. The slow circuit was always expected to play to his car’s strengths, but there’s no denying McLaren has made a gigantic step forwards with the MP4-24. Expect them to be a threat around Singapore’s many tight corners and possibly Valencia as well.

Ferrari’s F60 is also looking increasingly strong and they have the great unknown in the shape of Michael Schumacher. If the F60 is as good at Valencia as it was at Hungary, then I wouldn’t bet against Schumacher’s KERS-powered Ferrari winning the race. And the final rounds serve up two of his favourite tracks – Spa and Suzuka – where he will surely be on top form.

Wiliams have also shown flashes of form – enough for Nico Rosberg to beat Button in the last three races.

It all adds up to one of the most unpredictable championship conclusions we have seen for some time.

Red Bull are looking ever stronger (and are likely to take the lead in the constructors’ championship soon) but their drivers are taking points of each other. Although Brawn are struggling, a couple of decent points scores couple with slip-ups for Webber and Vettel could seal the championship for Button.

You wouldn’t have thought it three races ago, but the 2009 drivers’ championship looks ever more likely to be decided at that new season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Can you call the winner with seven races to go? Have your say below.

Remaining races

2009 European Grand Prix, Circuito Urbano Valencia
2009 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
2009 Italian Grand Prix, Monza
2009 Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay
2009 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Island

The world championship battle so far (click to enlarge)

The world championship battle so far (click to enlarge)

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101 comments on Button, Vettel, Webber, Barrichello: one of these men will be champion (Poll)

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  1. Prisoner Monkeys said on 8th August 2009, 7:03

    I think Button can do it. I want Button to do it. No-one deserves it more.

    • What world do you live in? Maybe it’s fair to say that Brawn team deserve to win, but Button? Oh pliz. Button deserves to win the same way Damon Hill deserved to win. He had the best car for enough races. That’s it!

      • Very true. I think Webber deserves it the most. Jenson had the best car by miles, its the same as Damon Hill in 1996

        • gwenouille said on 8th August 2009, 15:55

          Well, Ii don’t think the car is so obviously better that the RBR. It was true for the first races, but RedBull was immediately on their heels.
          And Button scored in every race and didn’t make a single mistake this year.

          I wouldn’t find it unfair if he clinched the championship really.

      • Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 8th August 2009, 22:50

        hmmm, could this be something to do with them being English??????

    • Fer no.65 said on 8th August 2009, 21:54

      Why you think he deserves it more?.

      I like Button. But Webber proved to be much more consistent than his highly rated team mate (who, of course, was said to smash Webbo completely). And now he’s proven to be faster aswell (he beated him many times this year).

      Plus he’s confident after his win. He knows he can do it.

      And i wouldn’t be surprised if he does it. I’d love him to do it!

      • Paige Michael-Shetley said on 12th August 2009, 4:32

        Firstly, let’s rule out Barrichello. He’s too far back from Button and has been beaten by him handily throughout the year. If push does come to shove with Red Bull in the drivers championship, we can fully expect Brawn to give him the “Schumacher’s Monkey Boy” treatment yet again.

        Responding to some random comments I’ve read on here…

        On who deserves the championship most: Whoever has the most points at the end of the year. On the grounds of sentiment, you could make a great case for both Button and Webber. Both are very talented drivers who have always found themselves in the wrong car at the wrong time, yet still managed to pull off some great performances in equipment that wasn’t the best for the bulk of their careers. Now they’re both in top cars and are showing what they were always capable of doing.

        On the Red Bull driver pairing: Someone said that Webber has shown himself to be quicker than Vettel, and I have to say that this is just a rubbish statement. Vettel has out-qualified him NINE TO ONE this year, including on a few occasions of having more fuel in Q3. I don’t think there’s much question that Vettel is quicker and more talented than Webber. W

        What Webber has done is drive more intelligently in races and deliver more consistent race results, which is surely important but also a product of age and experience. Vettel’s main problem at this point in his career is his over-exuberance, which will be tamed by age. He’s also had some trouble with starts, but this is surely something he’ll get a handle on sometime soon.

        If Raikkonen doesn’t body slam him and massacre his front wing in Hungary, Vettel probably overtakes Webber in the overlaps, finishes ahead of him, and stays ahead in the drivers championship.

    • ajokay said on 9th August 2009, 13:58

      I want Button to win. But I have a feeling that Webber will pip him to the post.

      Either one would deserve it. All word champions have earnt the right.

      • Don’t forget the broken leg! Webber and Button have easily been the most consistent drivers this year so i would be happy for eiter of them to win. but of course, webber is the only driver i truly support (due to being australia) so i hope he wins comfortably. good luck to him.

  2. mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:19

    i think button will clinch the WDC, but it might be very close by the time we get to dubai. i think mclaren will be every possible effort to take as many points away as possible from red bull, after all mercedes have some stake in this, cuz the last time they won a constructor championship was way back in 1998. so with the remarkable improvement in peformance by mclaren, i see them as the kingmakers in deciding the ultimate chances as to who wins the championship. but you never know, with shoe around anything might happen, might just bang into jenson or rubens in every race. spoilsport!

  3. Juhhi said on 8th August 2009, 7:22

    I count Webber in this one. Schumacher, LOL!!! I don´t know why people are talking about he may win…in normal circumstances Ferrari is just not fast enough, even with Michael who WILL NOT be able to be faster than Kimi with this car.

    • mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:43

      But you can be rest assured that he’ll definitely be involved in one or two controversies.

  4. Clay said on 8th August 2009, 7:29

    No-one desrves it more? How exactly do you work that out mate?

    Regardless, the finish this year will be very interesting, mainly as we will have numerous cars and drivers capable of wins. Brawn and RBR are obvious contenders (maybe not Rubens), Lewis is very quick in the revised McLaren, Alonso proved with his fastest lap at the Nurburgring (not Hockenheim…) that Renault might be back again, Ferrari are going to be quick especially on tracks suited to KERS cars, and Rosberg might sneak a win in the Williams (remember Singapore last year???).

    Button has the advantage of leading. However with 7 races to go his lead, lets call it 20 points over Webber, only needs to be whittled away by three points per race. It’s do-able.

    And i would argue the best driver & team deserve it more, whoever that turns out to be.

    • mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:41

      everyone maybe with the exception of young vettel deserves to win. i don’t see rubens continuing after this season, we might never see button in an ultra-competitive car in the near future, mark webber has a tough team mate who is very young & has plenty of time to taste success. so i wouldn’t mind any of the 3 veterans winning, but its going to be an uphill task for rubens.

  5. Hammad said on 8th August 2009, 7:41

    Why does Button deserve it the most? As far as I’m concerned, he’s just an ordinary driver who happens to be in the best car, a car he is incapable of setting up without his teammate’s help.

    • mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:49

      its not the best car anymore ;). i think they must revert back to the istanbul trim. something has gone terribly wrong for them. if they don’t sort out their tyre heating problems quickly, they are in trouble big time not only for the remainder of the season, but also for 2010, guess what? tyre warmers are banned for next season.

    • Patrickl said on 8th August 2009, 9:10

      Actually, only the first 2 races was the BrawnGP the car to beat. From China on, the Red Bull has really been faster.

    • True Hammad and now his car isn’t the best one by miles his struggling to get in the points

  6. Hammad said on 8th August 2009, 7:42

    Oh and it’s abu dhabi, not dubai. Big difference.

    • mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:44

      aren’t both twin cities? like LA & Francisco??

      • Matt said on 8th August 2009, 19:50

        The outskirts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are only a handful of miles apart these days and perhaps will become one twin city eventually (so not a huge difference). However LA and San Francisco are hundreds of miles apart and not a twin city.

      • YeaMon said on 9th August 2009, 0:32

        LA and SF aren’t even close…

  7. mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 7:55

    people have forgotten the fact that mark has won only one race so far, yet they seem to think he’ll be WDC. especially with the emergence of mclaren & ferrari to an extent, i’ll be immensly difficult for red bull to take-off points from brawn. again there is a strong possibility that brawn might improve as well. Ross Brawn is a cunning shrewd man, who knows how to turn around things in his favour,as he did on innumerable occasions at ferrari.

    • Hell$torm said on 10th August 2009, 3:14

      i see what you mean, but mr brawn is a race director not an engineer, when he was at ferrari the team had the resources, he has a small team that has no money, he doesnt have the equitment that other teams have or the work force, remember he fired half the team after austraila, maybe thats going to bite him in the ass, we have to remember that the car that brawn have now was designed by honda. So my advice for brawn is to start finding more sponsors while his car still has good pace, its going to be hard for him to find good money when his car is at the back of the feild. For the championship im going for webber, i dont know if its just me but i think that webberwants it more if you compare webber and vettels attitude towards the situation. The hype over vettel i think over rated aswell, im not saying he is crap coz i think he is very good, but the only reason he looked so good last year is that bourdais was utterly crap.

      We also have to look at mclaren and ferrairi they are so intent on winning more races this year to make up for poor performance this year, but i think all the hype over schumacher is over rated, we have seen what happens when he doesnt have the best car on the grid (2005 season) , and hes not coming into this season with a determination to win another title, he just filling a seat while massa gets better, publicity stunt by ferrari i recon coz they are not performing this season. Why is marc gene not driving, isnt that his job if these situations arise, and why did micheal leave i the first place? Ask youself these questions before you start saying that the shoe is going to win a handful of races this season.

  8. I would like to see M.A. Webber take the title, although J.A.L. Button could even cruise home to, say, 4th every race and still claim the Championship. So probably he‘ll win it.

    • That only works if Red Bull forget to win races. Don’t forget that the RB’s only need to catch Button by 3 points every race to become WDC’s!

  9. Tiomkin said on 8th August 2009, 8:40

    Surely Rubens will win? oh wait, its a conspiracy. His team will MAKE him fail, too much ‘blah blah blah blah…’.

    Sad not ONE vote.

  10. I’d have to go with Jenson, even though I would love to see Webbo do it…. JB has a huge advantage still, and a good car is a good car. They’ll roll back the changes and get it back to where it can score podiums again.

  11. Dougie said on 8th August 2009, 9:05

    I think Jenson will do it because basically in the remaining races Red Bull will be sharing wins not only with Jenson (I don’t believe we’ve seen his last win) but also with McLaren and Ferrari. So therefore they may close on Button but not by enough.

    Although, if anybody can do it, it’ll be Webber.

  12. Patrickl said on 8th August 2009, 9:14

    At least we don’t have the medal system. Button and BrawnGP will really still have to fight for it now.

  13. Arun.India said on 8th August 2009, 9:42

    As Schumi is back.I don’t really care about others.As long as schumi gives super entertainment thats enough for me.I think he will win a couple of races at least.Even if is not even in top 10 the fight for 11th place will be great if schumi is there.But for the sake of predicting i think webber will win the championship.

    • As long as schumi gives super entertainment thats enough for me

      Oh, yeah! We can expect some overtakes via pit stops. First class entertainment…

      • Max should resign now!!! said on 9th August 2009, 1:11

        Oh, yeah! We can expect some overtakes via pit stops. First class entertainment…

        LMAO!!! very true by the way, what about some “parking accidents” in quali as well? First class entertainment as well…

  14. W-K said on 8th August 2009, 9:56

    If Shuie does race at Valencia, I can see him improving the Ferrari even if he doesn’t get on to the podium. If the kers cars can overtake out of corner 10 before turn 12 then we may see some action, but if not then qualy will decide the order.
    Then at Spa I wouldn’t be surprised to see all 4 kers cars finish at or near the front. Using the kers button up the hill out of Raidillon and around Blanchimont to overtake anybody who is in front without kers.
    Therefore I think we maybe only have to wait until Spa finishes to see if anybody can overtake Jensen for the championship.

  15. Terry Fabulous said on 8th August 2009, 10:00

    Who the hell voted for Barrichello?

    In all seriousness,
    The brain says Barrichello has no chance.
    The heart wants Button or Webber.
    The gut feels it will be Vettel.

    • stillious said on 8th August 2009, 10:54

      Indeed, Rubens has no chance. I voted Button, but I would like Webber to get it. Vettel I don’t think will manage it just yet.

    • StrFerrari4Ever said on 8th August 2009, 10:59

      I know what you mean you just have a feeling that Vettel will surprise us and leave us thinking how did Button or Webber not win that that’s the great thing about F1 :D

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