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. mp4-19b said on 8th August 2009, 13:58

    i dunno why BMW are still competing? It was bit stupid of them to announce that decision midway, i dunno how the poor engineers,mechanics & drivers will motivate themselves. There is no point in them continuing for the remainder. BMW ruined it for themselves & peter sauber, blindly believed in them. But i have to say hats off to mercedes for sticking around with mclaren for nearly 15 years. BMW must imo quit immediately, becoz chances are they will embarrass themselves with some very bad performance in the coming races.

    • Maksutov said on 8th August 2009, 14:16

      I agree mp4. I think announcement of that decision was timed wrongly and I have a feeling that BMW decision was driven financially in that they probably wanted enough time to try to sell the team. However I think they made a big mistake:


      It is interesting how something least expected happens :).

      BMW should have sold the team to Sauber while they had the chance!

  2. Shagrathian (@shagrathian) said on 8th August 2009, 14:04

    My heart’s with Jenson. After all these miserable years because of his package, he deserves it than anyone else, now. But I think Webber will take the title. He has the best car, right now. And he’s more experienced than his slope failure team mate.

    All the candidates are tense, for sure. Obviously, they know that they can have a chance for the title again, hardly ever. (That one’s not valid for Vettel, for sure.) You can feel that from Jenson’s radio, Vettel’s moaning about KERS, Rubens blah-blah’s… I think Webber is the most comfortable right now because of the momentum he get.

  3. James G said on 8th August 2009, 14:13

    I think that Button is most likely to be World Champion this year for the following reasons:

    1. He’s got a 18.5 point lead and while it’s being whittled away, it’s still there at the moment.

    2. By the end of the year, Button will almost certainly have more wins than any other driver, so he can afford to finish the season level with whoever’s second. And as Hamilton and Massa are well aware, a point’s a point.

    3. McLaren and Ferrari are now pushing for wins and podiums and as the Red Bulls seem more competitive at the moment, this is more likely to help Brawn.

    4. Webber and Vettel are still taking points off each other, whereas Barrichello is going to have to play a back up roll fairly soon, regardless of how much he’ll hate doing so.

    Of course, we’re in the lap of the gods now and one small thing – a wrong tire change, steward’s decision or engine failure could change everything.

    • Hell$torm said on 10th August 2009, 3:33

      just a coment on point number two, he has a 18.5 point lead for him to draw even with lets say webber, one of the races would have to be stoped to make up that halfpiont difference, so by the end of the season he is either going to be above or below webber, asuming that webber is going to be chalanging for the title.

  4. Lenny said on 8th August 2009, 14:29

    Keith, I don’t think Hockenheim was on this years calendar!

  5. At the moment I kinda think Brawn won’t be able to turn around their form, so I voted Webber to win it.

  6. Brian said on 8th August 2009, 17:19

    Webber will win, and Red Bull will win the Constructors championship.
    I want to say Vettel, but he is still young and will have a chance many times in the future to win. I do think though that he will improve largely over the rest of year in skill and maturity. He will help Red Bull win lots of races in the future, but I don’t think he will win a championship until he is driving for a team like Ferrari. And yes, within the next 6 – 7 seasons I think we will see him in a Ferrari.

    • NDINYO said on 9th August 2009, 8:18

      a drivers age should never be the reason why he does not deserve the title – what happened to skill?

      • based on skill, webber and button should win. no two ways about it, vettel makes too many mistakes.

  7. I think Button will still win the title. His season curiously mirrors that of Alonso in 2006.

    Alonso won just 1 race in the 2nd half of the season and won the championship.

    One more win for Button, and the championship is his.

  8. Dans said on 8th August 2009, 18:30

    Button by a couple of points.

  9. TommyB89 said on 8th August 2009, 18:31

    Love the way some people speak for everyone. Saying we all want Button to win and he deserves it. I’d like Vettel to win but I think Webber deserves it most.

    Having Barrichello on the list is silly and other too. Whoever voted for other must be crazy or just ruining the poll :-P

    • I was just thinking that! More votes for “other” than Barichello? What exactly are you lot thinking? ;)

      • Matt said on 8th August 2009, 20:02

        Well considering Buttons 6 wins from 7 at the start. If Hamilton (going from the last race) or even Räikkönen / Rosberg / Trulli picked up that consistancy they could well win. And how things have gone so far who knows??

  10. Matt said on 8th August 2009, 19:57

    I reckon this half of the season will continue to be more changeable in winners. And consequently Button will win through varied people taking points. However the Red Bulls are not far behind and it could be a close end to the season. Every point counts, no-one can say the new rules havent made the year more exiting as a whole, from one race to the next no-one is accurately predicting who to pick up points. A couple of months or even weeks ago no-one would have suspected Hamilton of getting a win.

    From the last couple of races you could say Red Bull look to take a few points from Button even without wins, which is enough to take the championship. But I wouldnt place money going on “continued stability”, my guess in continued instability in winners. Thus Button to take.

  11. 159Tom said on 8th August 2009, 20:25

    Button by 6 points or less. Look out for some dodgy stewards’ decisions in an attempt to manipulate the title race, but Jenson’s great strength is his ability to keep his nose clean, and he’ll keep picking up points. Red Bull won’t win all the races: I think we’ll see a Ferrari win, maybe more from Hamilton, possibly Alonso.

  12. Brian said on 8th August 2009, 21:21

    There is no real point arguing against Button with you lot. It is mostly British folks on this site. lol.

  13. David said on 8th August 2009, 21:59

    One thing’s certain, it’s much more interesting now than 3 races ago. I voted Webber partly as I’d prefer him to win, partly as I don’t believe Button has it in him to scramble for the points amid the likes of Schumacher, Raikkonen, Hamilton and maybe even Alonso (wow, that’s some roll call!) and Vettel seems to lack the track presence to fend off more aggressive competitord (at the moment anyhow). I also suspect Brawn will keep drifting off the pace now, making Button’s job exceptionally difficult. His hope is Webber (or Vettel) not getting enough points or points difference – 4 per race to be comfortable. It’s a weird situation, the top drivers (imo) with nothing to win or lose as such, now in competitive cars, mixing it up with the title contenders. And Schumacher too ;0)

  14. wasiF1 said on 9th August 2009, 3:57

    It will be one of the Red Bull

  15. NDINYO said on 9th August 2009, 8:24

    a steward’s decision will decide this one

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