Brawn wrap up both titles after an incredible drive from Button at Interlagos

BrawnA fairytale. That’s how you could describe the journey of the Brawn team this year, who secured both the Drivers and the construction titles with a race to spare, in their debut season in Formula 1. (the first time this has ever happened in the sport’s 50 year history)  Few could have predicted that after Honda pulled out of the sport, an even stronger team would emerge and achieve something the Japanese manufacturer strived for without fruition.

In December 2008 the situation looked bleak for the Brackley based outfit, including drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello whose futures were suddenly uncertain. Honda failed to find a buyer for the team during the Christmas and New Year period, and it looked as though the fastly approaching season opener in Melbourne would have two cars missing on the grid. Through January and February, the employees at the team’s base in Brackley had to watch as the other teams tested their new cars. And their frustration was heightened because their simulation data was telling them their car, which they thought might never see a race track, was dynamite. Then, with less than a month before the start of the season, Honda decided that letting the team go under would not be a good idea, and a deal was struck whereby Brawn would buy it out and Honda would provide enough money to go racing for a season, after which Brawn GP would be on their own.

The fact that Brawn GP made it to the opening race in Australia was an achievement in itself, but was nothing compared to what the team achieved in the months to come. The BG001 turned out to be by far the fastest car out there, totally dominating the first half of the season. Button winning 6 races out of the first 7. It was the genius of team boss Ross Brawn to scrap last year’s car and focus the whole of 2008 designing the car for 2009. Which proved as vital, given the fact that Ferrari and McLaren’s epic battle for the 2008 world championship left them unprepared for the next season, sentencing them to the middle of the pack.

Brawn’s rivals slowly but surely caught up with them in terms of performance, and, especially Red Bull racing made the second half of the season difficult for Brawn as they fought to get into the points. Button’s performance slump in the latter part of the season had people wondering if he would eventually clinch the world title. His team mate proving that he still has it, beat Button almost in every race since his last victory in Turkey. Going into the penultimate round in Brazil, Button had a 16 points advantage. A similar situation to the 2007 season when Lewis Hamilton had a 17 points advantage and managed to lose the championship to Kimi Raikkonen. It was clear that Button felt the nerves and needed a good performance in Brazil.

That is exactly what he gave. Despite qualifying in a terrible 14th (due to bad tyre choice by Brawn in a soaked qualifying) he drove a championship drive to recover and finish 5th to clinch the title. It was a different Button than the one we knew from the last races. He drove aggresively from the start overtaking his way through the pack. This, combined with Barrichello’s ill fortune, and Vettel’s bad qualifying,  meant that 5th place was enough to achieve his dream, and put Brawn GP into the history books.

posted by Vojtech Janik