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)

  1. Stiffmeister said on 8th August 2009, 10:19

    This title will be decided by McLaren, Ferrari, Rosberg and Alonso. Red Bull will finish ahead Brawn most races, and it will depend if they finish behind some of those cars, and how many are between them and Button, as Barrichello barely has a chance.

    Valencia will be up for anyone, but Monza and Spa specially will be Red Bull tracks, so I go with Vettel.

  2. Matt said on 8th August 2009, 10:30

    My vote is Button. In my opinion he deserves it most, I don’t think Vettel, Barrichello let alone Webber really deserve it.

  3. slrmm said on 8th August 2009, 10:35

    I think it will be Button followed by Webber. Schumacher would have to win the next 7 races and Button could not score another point.

  4. S Hughes said on 8th August 2009, 10:39

    I just do not want Button to win. I don’t think he deserves it because he hasn’t shown to me championship spirit or ability in previous years, whereas someone like Lewis and even Alonso have shown skill and fighting spirit even when the car is not so good. In my eyes, that makes it that if Button wins, he would win 99.9% because of having the monster of a car at the beginning of the season. What a travesty that would be. I would prefer Webber to win as he had to overcome a massive injury at the beginning of the year and it is a long time coming. Of course, if by some miracle, it would be preferable for Lewis to win it. I just don’t like Button as a character either.

    • Adrian said on 8th August 2009, 10:50

      I just don’t like Button as a character either.

      Yeah I mean what’s his game being charming, humble, proffesional, giving time over to the press and fans. What’s that all about??

      How can you say that Webber has had it a long time coming when he’s had a shorter career than Button and they’ve both been in good, bad and mediocre cars in their time in F1..??

    • NDINYO said on 9th August 2009, 7:56

      Just to follow up on Keith’s mathematics – if Schumacher can win it so can Lewis

  5. I think Button will hang on to clinch it, but Red Bull will take the constructors’ championship.

  6. StrFerrari4Ever said on 8th August 2009, 10:51

    I’m remaining faithful and praying that Vettel wins it if he can close the gap whilst Button and Webber have poor races in the coming races then that would be fantastic.
    I can see Jenson getting very anxious these coming races his been sounding more agitated on the radio when things aren’t going as smooth as he wants them , Rubens well if he can’t beat Jenson how can he get the WDC the other thing I’m hoping for is that Red Bull can take a further step so that the Macca’s , Fezza’s & Williams’ are behind them but ahead of Brawn so we can see the Red Bull drivers maximising their advantage and catching Jenson.
    Red Bull should be very strong at Spa & the twistyness of Suzuka and they have a huge upgrade for Singapore so I’m expecting great things from them.
    Valencia? well Vettel went well last year so I think he’ll be very confident and will be focussed on closing the gap to Webber & Button can’t wait And i forgot to mention the red barron :) he can eff up a few people’s plans :D

  7. Damon said on 8th August 2009, 11:02

    Woah! Why do so many people choose Webber over Vattel?!
    No chance!

    • StrFerrari4Ever said on 8th August 2009, 11:13

      They think his got the momentum and Vettel will make more nooby mistakes but I can’t wait for Seb to prove them wrong!

    • Ace said on 9th August 2009, 1:21

      Given the evidence, why wouldn’t they?

      • webber’s been more consistent and often faster than vettel. i don’t think vettel has the maturity to win a championship just yet. give him a few years. webber all the way.

  8. Andrew White said on 8th August 2009, 11:43

    I don’t really want Vettel to win it this year, because he will have lots of other chances to win it. Button and Webber probably won’t get another chances like to to win the WDC, so I want one of them to win. Barrichello just doesn’t have a chance, like other people have said.

    I voted for Button, by the way ;)

  9. Xanathos said on 8th August 2009, 11:50

    As a matter of fact, Webber is the form man right now. He has the edge over Vettel and if he can keep it up and win one or two more races, he’ll do it.
    I’m a bit worried about Red Bull’s strategy screw-ups. This could cost them the title, as they are the team to beat right now (and most likely will be through the rest of the season).
    I can’t see Ferrari and McLaren taking too many points off the Red Bulls, they’ll take far more points off Brawn. The Brawn car has been developed for some 18 months now, there is a certain limit and they are getting really close to that by now.

    In my opinion, both titles are Red Bull’s to loose by now.

    • NDINYO said on 9th August 2009, 8:02

      How do you determine that Webber is the on form man? He just has that one win like Vettel and Lewis, is only 4.5 points ahead of Vettel – what really puts him heads and shoulders above his team mate? I am looking and i see nothing exciting there.

  10. Webber clearly has the form over Vettel. He’s been both fast and consistent, and consistency is something Vettel is seriously lacking in right now.

    I still think Button will win it (and I want it). And to all those nay-sayers who question his loyalty and honesty, he stuck with Honda and was incredibly loyal, to the point of damaging his career. Webber has thrown hissy fits at his two previous teams. I think Button deserves it more, but Webber would be as worthy a champion.

    It’s great for us Button and ex-Honda fans – I’ve supported Honda and Button for years so it’s good to see their legacy challenge for a championship.

  11. Armando666 said on 8th August 2009, 12:17

    i’m a little confused as to why so many people seem to think that JB DESERVES to win it. How do the people that have said that come to that conclusion. OK he has been in some under performing cars, granted but so has MW. The comment from Adrian saying that MW as well as JB has been in a good, bad and mediocre car. I’m sorry when has MW been in a good car prior to this year. Wasn’t he voted the unluckiest driver in F1 in recent years. If JB deserves to win then MW Definately deserves to win, broken leg and shoulder before the start of the seaon and look how he’s performed not at 100% and he’s had **** cars pretty much his whole career in F1…but…i’m not saying he deserves to win…as cliched as it is but..may the best man win!

    I like JB i think he’s a cool guy and he’s very professional , but to say he deserves it hmmm. If people can say that then i think Piquet deserves to win, i mean just look at his CV and the things he’s accomplished before entering F1. You can’t knock back the fact that he scored more points than ANY other Brazilian in their first year…now that is a super star….bring back Piquet oh and partner him with Sato…now that will be a force to be reckoned with!

  12. Stiffmeister said on 8th August 2009, 12:36

    Vettel retired in Hungary from a mechanical problem, i can’t see how that affects his consistency.

  13. Jonathan said on 8th August 2009, 13:31

    Here’s something I’m surprised you didn’t pick up on: there is a very real possibility of Mark Webber winning the championship this year with only one win to his name. If McLaren and Ferrari continue to improve and win the remaining GPs, while Brawn continue to struggle, this is a likely outcome.

    Has this ever happened before?

    • newdecade said on 8th August 2009, 13:41

      Rosberg in 82 only won 1 gp.

    • mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 13:44

      Yes! its happened before. Infact its happened twice, once in 1958 with Mike Hawthorn & in 1982 with keke rosberg who won only 1 gp at Dijon-Prenois & i dunno why its called a swiss gp. any ideas??

      • 159Tom said on 8th August 2009, 20:18

        I guess this was before they’d thought of the “Grand Prix of Europe”, and it was a way of having a second French race.

        There were stacks of top French drivers back then. We’re back to none at all now – I don’t think Grosjean counts as, fittingly, he’s Swiss.

        • gwenouille said on 8th August 2009, 20:45

          I think he can compete for both countries, mum and dad having the 2 different nationality.
          That is very handy: in the french media he’ll probably be swiss when he’s bad, french when he wins !

    • NDINYO said on 9th August 2009, 8:09

      Jonathan, if things turned out the way you describe, JB and not Webber will win the WDC. Two McLarens and Two Ferraris infront of Webber would consistently put him fifth or lower, which i doubt would win him the title. A major assumption here would be that JB wouldn’t be scoring any points. Don’t forget that Vettel is probably going to bounce back …

      • NDINYO said on 4th October 2009, 7:59

        Feels good to tell you all “i told you so” – Vettel is BACK!!! (unfortunately Webber seems to have faded in the process)

    • the importance of consistency…

  14. newdecade said on 8th August 2009, 13:40

    Looks like another 2007 in the making…

  15. mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 13:50

    who here thinks jamie will score a point this year??

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