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Brawn march on at the double
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Brawn march on at the double
Posted By:   |  29 Mar 2009   |  11:43 am GMT  |  0 comments

I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw this Brawn car for the first time on the Monday morning in Barcelona on the 9th of March. It looked different, the detail on the car was so refined, and it went like stink.

Here was the most dominant F1 car we’ve seen since the Ferrari of 2004 and it was born out of the wreckage of the Honda team. Today they got a one-two finish in the first Grand Prix, making monkeys of the opposition as they went. How must Honda be feeling now? They pulled out of F1 just before Christmas, despite the assurances of Ross Brawn that the car would be a potential championship winner.

The executive who took that decision is like the man from Decca Records who turned down the Beatles. He would say it had to be done because car sales were plummeting, but the other manufacturers have stayed in and they didn’t have a car like this one.

It’s very likely that they will dominate again in Malaysia, although the heat there will test the reliability of this car, which has still not done a huge mileage in testing. They have a good 8/10ths advantage over the Ferrari and more than a second over the McLaren. Both teams are frantically working on bringing new parts to the car at the next few races, hurling money at the problem, making a bit of a mockery of the concept of cost saving. For Ferrari to do the diffuser properly it requires a new gearbox casing, so it’s a very big job. McLaren have an astonishing manufacturing capability and they will need it because they are coming from a long way back.

As for Jenson Button, he was enjoying himself this weekend, always looked relaxed and happy, not feeling pressure, revelling in the second chance that fate has given him. But behind the scenes he was very intense all weekend, apparently. He knows that this is his opportunity to do all the things he thought he was going to do in his career, before it went down the wrong path with Williams, then BAR and Honda.

I expect to see a more intense Button now, more single-minded, more ruthless even. He can take no prisoners from here, he has to translate this car advantage into results every time, keep Rubens behind him and nothing can stand in his way. If he can get far enough ahead in the points before the big teams wake up, he can win the world title. If they had stuck with the ‘winner takes all model’ of deciding a championship, he’d have had an even better chance.

This Brawn car has been very carefully prepared and has come out of the oven perfectly cooked, whereas, in comparison the grandee teams have whipped something up in the microwave. They now have to work hard to refine. It’s unlikely that the FIA appeal court will help them by upholding their appeal against the Brawn diffuser, they are going to have to do it the hard way, in the wind-tunnel.

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  1. Malcolm46 says:

    James, I’m seriously regretting not getting down the bookies when in this blog a few weeks ago you predicted Button in the Brawn would win the Australian GP!!! I hope you James managed to get a few quid on Jenson to win!!

    How much do you reckon Honda are regretting pulling out of F1 now?!

    On another note, how much pace does the Williams have, it topped the practice sessions, and set the fastest lap, some mistakes in the race from the drivers, but it looks reasonable, up there with the BMW’s and Red Bulls?

  2. Tobias McKenzie says:

    It was really a strange feeling to watch the race between Button and Vettel (even though they did not race very hard they were alone at the top) as it was reminiscent of old Ross Brawn vs Adrian Newey battles at the end of 1990s.

  3. Oscar says:

    Excellent race, fairy tail stuff. Reminded me a lot of the race horse Sea Buscuit who was the underdog but won loads of races in the great depression. Out of the dispair of the recent economic doom and gloom comes a ray of light in the shape of Brawn GP the underdog that won on it’s debut.

    I thought KERS was more impressive during the race but it did not give as much of overtaking advantage as you would have liked. If it was not for the TV graphic it would be impossible to tell when it was been used, there was no obvious change in speed when the button was pressed. Maybe they should allow them to charge it up over a few laps to give more of an advantage when it’s used.

    Overall great start to the season. :)

  4. Kristjan says:

    Hi James,

    I’d just like to say “thanks” for the very interesting posts you have published in this blog. I’ve been reading much of it for the past few days, and to have your expert views on many matters really enhances my enjoyment of the whole sport, not to mention that I feel much the wiser. :)

    Thanks again!

    Kristjan
    in Tallinn, Estonia

  5. Colin says:

    Blimey Sir, you’re sure pumping out some top-quality material for us lot.

    You’ll sleep well tonight.

    Who actually gets the credit for the Brawn design? Did Ross design it, I thought he was technical director overseeing it; pushing the rules specification limits, finding loop-holes, and leading the designer.

    Or was it a far closer collaboration than that, like Keith Duckworth and Frank Costin had on the Cosworth DFV?

  6. Paige says:

    You do a tremendous job of covering the sport, James. I don’t know about others, but I really enjoyed hearing your voice in the coverage of F1 on ITV whenever I was in Britain and saw the race. You really did make the race more exciting to watch.

    I’m so happy for Jenson Button. I’ve always thought him to be a supreme driver who just needed a competitive car to show what he could do. He drove an absolutely brilliant race, driving like he knew he had the quickest car and didn’t have to abuse it. He could have pulled out to a 15 second lead in the first stint, but you could tell he was settling into a pace and knew he was heavier on fuel than Vettel and could pick up time in the cycles. His feel for the car allowed him to pick up issues like vibrations, even when the car was just mowing over the field. He was extremely smooth with the car, got tremendous starts, and just generally looked like a champion today.

  7. dmatr says:

    Thanks for some great comment over the race weekend James, straight into P1 ahead of all the other F1 websites!

  8. Rich M says:

    Brawn didn’t seem to have the race pace advantage that you have previously talked about (Vettel always seemed to be within 5 secs of Button). However, it always seemed that Button could pull out an advantage if he needed to. Any ideas on this? Were they managing their pace? Did the temperatures play a factor?

  9. Ben G says:

    I’m so pleased for the Brawn team. I hope the Honda board are now realising what a mess they’ve made in leaving F1.

    Since some people are commenting on the BBC, here’s my 2p. Legard not as good as JA, of course, but actually pretty decent considering. He was enthusiastic, which is important. EJ & DC I thought make a good pair. Which rather leaves me wondering what the point of Jake Humphreys is. He seemed to lack excitement, and looked like he’d wandered in from a stag do in Reading.

    I saw Bernie Ecclestone in my local Starbucks after the race (seriously), and he seemed delighted with the race and the way the show had developed. You’ve got to hand it to the FIA with the new rule changes. It’s just a pity they didn’t do it years ago.

  10. tentonipete says:

    I think the fact that the engines have to last 4 races, and Button knew from the published weights that he had at least a few more laps than Vettel.

  11. LMW says:

    Thanks for some great insights James.

    What a fantastic start to the season, and nice to see another father/son relationship other than Anthony and Lewis.

    I think the Brawn car looks great too – that dayglo yellow really stands out on the telly.

    I was surprisingly pleased with the BBC’s coverage and new format over the weekend, especially being able to watch Friday practice with commentary. I watched the race live with Martin and John’s commentary and then watched the re-run with 5-live’s David Croft & Anthony Davidson’s commentary. It was interesting to hear their different takes on the race and found Anthony’s insight as a driver particularly helpful.

    One last thing though – it wasn’t the same without your voice James!

  12. Mooks says:

    Great work James, with the blogging, tweeting and also your day job. It was strange not hearing you with Martin, but there were times I thought he should have twitter going to get some of your information! Maybe you should recommend it to him..

    One thing that interests me, especially near the end of the race, is the super softs. With the new regulations, I started to wonder why they didn’t get rid if the idea that you had to use a set of super softs. Mario Theissen summed it up well for me after the race, saying that if it wasn’t for Vettel, they would have won the race because they were on the prime.

    I thought this season would be driver dominated, not so much tactics, but if Mario is anything to go by, they may seem to be replacing strategies with tyres choice, but I may be wrong.

    KERS was interesting, if the driver gets it right, like with Alonso. I’m not sure we will see KERS throughout the season, but it’s new technology, and that’s all good to F1 to try these things out.

    As the season goes, I think we’re in for a very dramatic and topsy turvy one, and I for one, can’t wait!

  13. Edward Mackenzie says:

    Hello, James. Was browing youtube and found a clip of where trulli goes off and hamilton passes him under the safety car [ link ] [ Thanks for the tip - Moderator ]

  14. MartinWR says:

    Honda management may well be kicking themselves now, or at least they certainly should be. However from their past history they appear to be so dozy you can’t be too sure they’ve even noticed what the car they spent millions on is doing.

    To have sacked a good F1 professional (Willis) and then brought in a know-nothing outsider, a chum of their boss, as a replacement to run the show was nutty from the word go. The resulting debacle just underlined that. The next idiotic decision they made was to finance Super Aguri, just to keep Sato in a drive. That is not to take anything away from Super Aguri, they were great, a breath of fresh air, enlivened the sport no end, and kicked Honda’s butt something rotten too! I really miss them. But from Honda’s point of view, to divide their efforts like that was another totally mad decision. Then there was the “Earth Car” nonsense; well what can you say but laugh.

    Performance-wise one wonders where the Brawn GP001 would have been with a Honda power plant. Down on power and probably undriveable as well. I seem to remember that even years back Barrichello spoke of having to make up on the corners (in the BAR) what they lost on the straights.

    Well now, Honda I am afraid, are history.

  15. Mammalian Verisimilitude says:

    One thought occurs though, in light of what you say about Honda “turning down the Beatles” – if Honda had stayed in, the car would have used Honda engines, not Mercs. Weren’t the Honda engines down on power compared to the Mercs they’re using now?

  16. Ben James says:

    Well I commented on all the pre-race hype starting to do my head in, worried sick that it was all too good to be true.

    I was totally blown away all the way from qualifying onwards. I had tears like a right girl when Jenson won today and the lucky second place for Rubens was too much! 9 long seasons I have been hoping for this day, when Jenson was in a competitive (competitive seems and understatement!) car. Lets hope they can keep up development all year and the silky Jens slinks all the way to the title. I would have loved to have seen Jens and Lewis on the podium! Poor Trulli though.

    As for the commentary I have to say Legard was god-awful. Brundle still has it of course, but Legards ‘enthusiastic’ vocals sounded so fake! James if it had been you in that box with your old pal we know you would have been screaming and ‘breaking’ your voice, just like you did the last time Jens won.
    I don’t know who to write to to campaign to get you in there?!

    I know we should give the new team a chance but really I don’t want to have to sit there and watch them try and develop. We already had a team who were perfect at it!

    Also Humphrey looks and sounds like a 6th former. There was zero excitement. His commentary over the highlights was just monotone information telling robot nonsense, again like a 6th form project or something! Admittedly he got slightly better once in the forum part of presenting. I feel bad for the little fella because I know he is trying his hardest, you can see that, but needs to be….well less BBC and more relaxed and real, oh and louder!

    The pundit bits just don’t work at all. I know they want to show that they’re doing this on the fly but it looks so amateurish the way they do it. Standing around holding the mics on their lips! Put the mics down until its your turn to talk! They really look like they think they’re on the radio!

    Bring back Blundell, Rosenthal, Jardine, Louise and of course JAMES ALLEN! I don’t have time for these new amateurs!

    As much as I like Eddie Jordan, his opinions are just hopeless. He is embarrassing himself next to Brundle, who is a god. Coulthard is actually okay, because like brundle he has experience and information which is relevant to the points they make. At the very least get rid of the mics and have an attractive ‘mic girl’ directing the mic. Much more F1.

    Going back to the great race we just watched, that shot of Jenson walking up the stairs with all those beautiful girls leading the way was awesome. Really cool and sexy and just what F1 needs. I would like to hope that all those girls are celebrating with Jenson in his hotel room tonight!

    Once last thing on Brundle sans Allen. You can’t have Fred Astair with out Ginger Rogers. No that sounds like I am calling you a girl James. Sorry. I mean you can’t have Maverick without Goose!

    Where can we start an online campaign anyone?

  17. Peter says:

    It’s like Brawn is a year ahead of the field, otherwise F1 seems to be a bit of mess the moment.

  18. Matthew Dawson says:

    Great race, absolutely loved it… but there’s one thing missing. That’s right – James Allen. Seriously BBC, get your priorities in order and get this guy back in the commentary box for God’s sake! People need to read this blog to show just how knowledgeable the man is.

    And I hope all those idiots who slated James are pleased with themselves – I’m not saying Jonathon Legard is a bad commentator, but I heard him on Five Live and he wasn’t up to James standards.

    The whole BBC presentation lacked the enthusiasm James had. Real shame.

    Just like Ben James said, we need to start an online campaign to get this guy back to where he belongs.

  19. David Hodge says:

    As a Jenson fan, I was jumping around when I watched it this morning – and got told off by she who must be obeyed because I had woken her up! Oops…

    Anyway, plenty written about the race so I want to comment on the presentation. Firstly, no adverts – that was the big plus point. However, the title sequence (like a PlayStation intro). Please, not again. Brundle, superb. Kravitz, getting in there as usual but strangely silent on Ferrari – perhaps he had more latitude to get around with ITV. The rest of them? Sorry, apart from DC who could be a “Brundle mini-me” in that he has been there and done it, the rest did not enthuse me one little bit. Eddie Jordan talked rubbish about fairytales – no it wasn’t EJ, it was a Honda rebadged… Lee McKenzie – sounded like she was reading questions off a list with no enthusiasm. And Jonathan Legard? Sounds like a modern vicar telling us all how we should enjoy it. How many times did he suggest various drivers should “press on”. I think that is what they tend to do all the time anyway. None of the passion James Allen had. None of the passion Murray Walker had. I could have imagined either of those gentlemen yelling at maximum revs as the race unfolded, especially the Vettel/Kubica stuff. I would imagine that Leggard is probably not really an F1 fan as such and has taken the gig to increase his profile from Radio 5 Live football. And Jake… go back to CBBC.

    So dear BBC, bring back Allen, Goodman and Brundell for his wonderful malapropisms to partner DC – oh and Steve Rider (self-confessed F1 fan) wasn’t too shabby as the anchorman was he. Why didn’t the BBC just take the whole production from North One?

  20. sean says:

    an absolutely brilliant race even better as i had brawn in my fantasy team.One thing does confuse me and Im not trying to be negative,but with all the steward penalties handed out over the weekend how did rubens not get at the very least get a stop and go.He punted out webber and hiefield then had a crack at kimi has anything been said james.

  21. Pete says:

    I liked Jake Huhmphrey as host and the pairing of Coulthard and Jordan was interesting to say the least, but you have to put Blundell in there. I liked his warm cosy attitude and he always gave us unbiased predictions (he always seemed to say Ferrari were going to win the race!). Jonathan Legard should be part of the team…. but not as main commentator. He didin’t quite do it for me this morning and I missed James’s enthusiastic, exciting commentary alongside his old commentary pal Brundle. We need you James, you are too good to not be commentating!

    By the way if you were watching the interactive forum at the end of the race with Jordan, Coulthard and Brundle, you should have seen Martin’s face when Eddie Jordan completely talked over the top of him. He looked less than impressed to say the least!

  22. Simon Proctor says:

    To everyone who’s suggesting the BBC sacks its entire F1 team after one race… don’t be ridiculous! You’re almost as bad as the people who constantly criticised James Allen’s commentary on the internet forums the past 5 years.

    Can anyone really expect them to be performing as well as the ITV team and their 12 years of experience from the start. You’ve got to have some patience. Yes, James Allen was a great commentator and analyst and I’d probably have took him over to the BBC if it were up to me, but give Jonathan Legard a chance before you start hammering him.

    Forget any petions to get JA and the rest on the BBC, they’ve all got new jobs by now, you’ll be wasting your time and it’ll do no good for the confidence of the new team.

    And to the guy who suggested bringing back Mark Blundell… where did you get those rose tinted glasses from, I’d like to buy some.

  23. Pete says:

    When I say unbiased about Blundell I meant that he didn’t always think Lewis would win it, that Ferrari comment is hypocritical from me. He was always fair in his criticism of every driver.

  24. Ross Etti says:

    What a race! I would have liked to see Jenson harried by Kubica to see what he had in reserve, looked like he was driving well within himself, but what a great result for the boy from Frome.

    I have to say, being too young to remember the BBC coverage first time around – and having being bemused by the anti-James-Allen campaign that has run in some quarters, the coverage was much the poorer without you James – a petition to put you back on telly is very much required!

  25. Dave says:

    Fantastic race…. I am constantly amazed about the hype about the diffuser – and I think Brawn is happy to let it run because to me it is clear… it is not the difuser that gave them the boost in performance it was not running KERS… just look at the grid… All the Kers at the back, non kers to the front… so it does not matter too much if the appeal is upheld. Interestingly, the kers played its part in the race, as when it could be used consistently (as oposed to qualifying) it narrowed the gap between the non kers and the kers cars… but still non kers cars won overall. So the message is simple, Ferrari, Mclaren ditch it on one car and see what happens as per BMW…

    I really was very impressed by the BBC’s coverage. Jake was really excellent, setting a great tone, the Red button after the race was brilliant. Still ( and this is no succing up) Legard did lack passion and I wish James was still doing the main comentary, but then you wouldn’t have the time for this excellent Blog!

    I suspect Brawn will be even better in the next race as aero will count for more.. can’t wait to see…

  26. PaulL says:

    I am disappointed by the decision to demote Vettel 10 grid places. I agreed with Martin Brundle’s 50-50 call on that one.

  27. Clackers says:

    What do you think of this possible strategy for the Brawns in Sepang?

    Bearing in mind the unbelievable drop-off in performance of the option tyres, is it conceivable for Button to qualify on fumes in Q3 and start on the option tyres, do a 7 lap stint, which should give him a gap of around 20 seconds, then come in for an early stop reverting back to prime tyres (and covering any future safety car period)?

    The likes of BMW and Ferrari will always qualify light and aggressive this year (they have to, they’ll be nowhere otherwise), so I really see Button and Barrichello coming under attack from so-called ‘slower’ cars because of their aggressive strategies, especially in races affected by safety cars.

    I know the Brawn’s outright seems unbeatable at the moment, but it nearly went wrong for them in Melbourne nonetheless, and it got me thinking of what Ross Brawn may be planning to counter the attack from others next time out.

    Would a short opening stint on the option tyres to get them out the way work? Surely if Button started on Pole (surely he would if he only had 9 laps of fuel or so) he would generate enough advantage to come back out again near the front of the pack, plus he would be a pit stop ahead and the beneficiary tyre-wise too, as most of the others would still need to use the slower option tyre.

    What do you think James?

  28. Ben James says:

    Of course there was lots to be grateful for with the new coverage, not least the absence of ad breaks! Oddly the race seem to be over quicker without them! Also I had no idea when to go to the loo! I don’t mean to moan and poke holes in the coverage from the BBC on their first race back unnecessarily. I didn’t balance it out with many positives. They certainly tried hard. It seemed ages until we saw the Rev and Kers graphics, though that is down to the FOM feed rather than the Been right?

    One thing I REALLY wanted to see though was Anthony Hamilton congratulating John Button. Does anyone know if this has been captured and put on youtube? For years it was great to see John Button giving soundbites and reacting to his son’s achievements on the track (especially his first podium Malaysia 2004). Then it seemed instantly and natural that Anthony took that place, but I have always wanted to see both fathers reactions at every race. I will never be a F1 driver, but I would love to be and F1 Driver’s Dad, is it okay to adopt? lol

    CANNOT wait for Malaysia and the great thing is we don’t have to, it is only days away!

  29. Mark Dunnett says:

    The BBC’s coverage of the Australian GP was spoilt by one thing – the commentary. Martin Brundle was excellent as always but i found it infuriating that new boy Jonathan Legard continually talked over Brundle and regularly needed correcting. He seemed to stumble regularly and I got the impression this is a guy who doesn’t really know his F1, at least not in the way James Allen did. Allen had an almost geek like knowledge of the sport, living and breathing it 24/7 in the same way Murray Walker had before him.

    Mr BBC if you are listening, dump Legard and get Allen in quick!

  30. Snowy says:

    I’ve just been fortunate enough to attend the opening race weekend and from what I’ve seen, the Brawn cars are really going to take some catching.

    Quite apart from their great speed, of all the cars, the two Brawns were visibly superior in their handling. The area where those two cars impressed most was in their mid-corner stability and traction under acceleration – they looked like they were running on rails in comparison to the other cars, and consistently so through many of the sessions, although the two Toyotas weren’t far behind in that regard. How much of this is attributable to the ‘extra’ diffuser sections I don’t know, but it would seem they have the overall balance working very well.

    Interestingly, the Toyota engines also have quite a different note to them – deeper and ‘throatier’. Also, the two Toyotas were shifting into higher gear much earlier through corners (onto the main straight in particular) although the Toyota powered Williams cars did not and were shifting at much the same point as all the other runners.

    If only the Toyota team can get their ‘legal troubles’ under control they should be well up in the mix too.

    These little points aren’t always easy to pick up via TV coverage, but from watching them all through many track sections over the course of the weekend they were very noticeable.

  31. H ROBINSON says:

    Have any drivers/teams made any complaint about Rubens
    “ONE MAN DEMOLITION TEAM”. Playing at Dodgems on the racetrack, last year LH was denied wins for far less, he was one of the most experienced drivers in the race, but he performed like a rookie, I think he used up all his teams luck per season in one race, and to think that with his experience at the top, I had him in the frame for the WDC.
    I HOPE I’M WRONG, but i can’t just see it panning out now.

  32. Finn says:

    Re the BBC:
    Legard probably needs time. He seemed lost and under prepared. At one pit stop, his comment was a dull ‘wow’ and then he didn’t know what to say … it was almost as if he had never seen a pit stop before. People don’t need a diatribe of inane comments, but at least he should have been talking about what was going on and why it might have happened. Maybe he just needs come coaching – but to me he sounded disinterested and very flat. Brundle (quite rightly) sounded peeved with him at times.

    I watched under the red button and switched between the TV and radio 5 commentary feeds. The radio (save for the news breaks!) was very good – especially having Ant Davidson with his ‘current experience’ to draw on. Personally, if I were the BBC bosses, I’d ask James Allen to come back or at the very least I’d swap the radio/TV commentators round and let Legard learn how to describe a race with some intelligence and enthusiasm. Poor bloke just sounded out of his depth. Maybe the BBC could employ James to give Legard some advice.

    The after race forum for an hour on the red button was excellent. It helped to clarify some of the race incidents: especially Kovi whacking Bari in the first corner and causing the mayhem that followed.

    Thought the incident with Kubica and Vettel was 60/40 Kub’s fault … he wasn’t clearly ahead of Seb and should have left him more space and driven round the outside of him.

    We’ve known Ross to be a brilliant tactician for years on the Ferrari wall. And it is clear today that he is capable of leading a team that can build fantasticly FAST and TOUGH cars.

    Does this, in some way, change the view of how good Schumi was? I know he was a good driver, but was it Brawn’s engineering and tactical skills that really made MS into a multiple WDC/super star?

  33. natef1 says:

    Legard was awful yesterday. David Croft and Anthony Davidson did a far, far, better job.

    Good race, not sure about KERS though. Kind of got the feeling that Ferrari and McLaren would’ve been better off without it.

  34. James Lindfield says:

    Does it annoy anyone else that the entire planet seems to have forgotten about 2004?

    Jenson drove supebly all season, has a season ticket to the podium, and finished 3rd in the championship, only behind the 2 ferraris – which were arguably the strongest cars ever in F1 above the rest of the pack.

    It’s time Jenson won some fans back from Lewis Hamilton and the media-hype machine that surrounds him.

    A question on my mind at the moment is “How long is it before you find out if you’re really good at something, or just really lucky?”

    Button for the Championship – Lewis close second! 2010 – Get them in the same car, and give us what we want to see!

  35. Al27 says:

    Don’t know if you’re back in the UK this week James, but if so you’ll be able to watch the BBC broadcast.

    Give Martin a ring and commiserate him because he struggled with Jonathan Legard. There was just no chemistry.

    There was even silence at one point because Legard couldn’t think of anything to say. He’s ok when something’s going on, but out of his depth when the action is quiet. God help us if we have another Valencia.

    If we can’t have you James, it’s got to be David Croft. His practice commentary with Anthony Davidson was very good.

  36. Jacs says:

    Slightly off topic, but can I ask what you think of Vettel’s decision to apologise to BMW over his incident with Kubica?

    Martin Brundle and Eddie Jordan both seem to see it as a ‘sign of weakness’ and pointed out that it was not something Senna or Schumacher would have done.

    Personally I think that both drivers, although great, had many flaws, and their failure to admit they were fallible was one. I am going to sound like my mum here but just because Senna and Schumacher behaved badly in certain circumstances it does mean Vettal has to!

  37. Mooks says:

    RE : Commentary comments

    I do find it interesting, reading about everyone’s comments about the new line up, and already wanting the old crew back.

    I have to admit, Legard wasn’t up to scratch, but give him a couple of races. He’s next to Martin in the box. Think of James when he had to go in there, and likewise with Martin having to stand next to Murray, like there isn’t enough pressure. I think he did do F1 commentary on 5 live, but was a few years ago, so he may need some time and a few season review videos!

    DC and EJ are a bit new to this, DC more so. EJ has been able to write for various people, whereas DC, as he himself put it, has only ever concentrated on himself and his team.

    Jake gives me the impression that he’s talking via an autocue, but maybe that’s a good thing, he seems keen enough. I’m glad Ted is still there, but Lee isn’t as forward as Louise was. Admittedly, Louise has the advantage of bangles and the business she runs.

    All in all, I don’t think it’s a bad setup, they just need to break in! It does send shivers down my spine to hear Chains on a Sunday though!!

  38. Mike says:

    James, you were greatly missed in the commentary box yesterday. I can understand Jonathan Legard wanting to go his own way and maybe opt for a more understated style than the two men he is following, but remaining virtually silent in the moments before the lights went out at the start was unbelievable! Worst of all for me though – aside from the numerous mistakes and stumbles than in all fairness may be ironed out in time – we had to wait until the end of lap 3 for the words “Lewis” and “Hamilton” to be so much as mentioned! And even then, it was as if the Australian director had taken matters in to his own hands by switching to Lewis’ on-board camera to force them into it! Of course Jenson Button and Brawn GP was the biggest story yesterday by some distance, but having qualified in 18th place, the reigning World Champions’ progress through the field surely merited some coverage? F1 has always been about more than just top-3 or top-6, something that you and Murray consitently realised. Having discovered this website in the last few weeks I have been hugely impressed and look forward to getting the inside word from the tracks in the months ahead.

  39. Mike Ellison says:

    I missed James as much as anybody but we have to move on. Legard wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be and wasn’t bad enough to get fired. At best he’ll be replaced at the end of the season if he doesn’t get his act together by then. His accent was a bit annoying plus he sounded a bit like John Watson who always irritates me – Watson is one thing I won’t miss about the Canadian GP!

    Part of me feels sorry for Honda but I do feel that the Mercedes engine delivers more than just more power judging from the comments from the drivers so I don’t think the car would have performed so well. Also, the loss of the Honda corporate machine clearly unshackled Brawn and the whole team so I don’t think the people would have performed so well. Thirdly, Honda would probably have dumped Rubens which would have taken the pressure off Button so I don’t think Jenson would have performed so well. Honda would have moved a long way up the grid but I don’t think they would have won.

    I think the pile-up at the beginning was a racing incident. It might have been Rubens’ “fault” but there were other drivers getting squeezed up in there and looked pretty likely to make contact anyway. With those huge front wings just waiting to make contact, it was either going to be a boring processional start or a big mess and we got the latter. Having said that, there have been far bigger messes at the start of a GP.

  40. Paige says:

    I feel like the biggest advantage that the KERS provided was in helping cars stay ahead of other cars. A great example was the battle between Glock and Alonso, which really seemed to go on all day. Glock tried repeatedly to overtake Alonso, but Alonso’s use of the KERS on corner exit allowed him to get a bit of a jump out of the corners an hold off Glock’s charge going into the next corner. The KERS may have played a part in Ferrari getting a jump on the start, but I’m not sure it did.

    I just see KERS as causing more problems for teams right now than it solves. It’s about 1/15 of the car’s total weight, which is a major amount of weight to have to redistribute on the car in order to run it. Having to take the weight off the front, which lessens steering response and prevents the car from extracting maximum grip from the front slick tires, is a huge cost to pay to have a power boost. If you ask me, I’d rather have that weight distribution on the front and have the front end grip to go quickly through the corners than to have maybe an 8 second boost of 80 BHP/lap. Most teams’ engineers seem to agree, especially the ones working for the quickest teams as of now.

  41. George says:

    I had great fun watching Hamilton passing people using his KERS, when the drivers use a big burst you can really tell (I think he put a move one of the Renaults where the acceleration advantage was very obvious). Most interesting was when drivers were using it, the Ferraris tended to use it at the beginning of the lap whereas Hamilton tended to save it for the latter half.

    Unfortunately though I think once more teams integrate it into their cars we’ll see more of a stalemate, today the non-KERS cars were like sitting ducks when a KERS car got up behind them.

  42. DanB says:

    I always have the live timing window open and as the race went on and track temperature dropped, the laps generally got slower, so I think tyre temperatures were a big factor today. You heard Lewis on the radio saying during the safety car period that the temperature had gone from the tyres and that he didn’t think he’d be able to get that set working again. In addition to the heat issues, Jenson also had a flat spot and bad vibrations on the second set of tyres, so there were some issues to contend with for him today.

    Under normal conditions and without the safety car, I think it would have been a more comfortable victory.

    I have to say that I’m absolutely over the moon with today’s result. The last three weeks have been out of this world and I’ve been trying not to get too carried away with the testing results etc, but they delivered today and at last it seems Jenson will have the car to show us what he can do. It’s been a long time coming – the last two seasons at Honda have been utterly awful as a Button fan, but that just makes today all the satisfying and finally we have something to smile about! I can’t wait for Malaysia!

  43. Colin says:

    But the flip-side is that the blips of KERS boost roger the tyres quicker. The Ferrari drivers mentioned this post-race.

    Interesting that the Williams KERS doesn’t use electrical stored energy like the others, it is mechanical, employing flywheels, and they claim it is much more efficient than battery storage.

    It sits high up above the engine behind the drivers head spinning at huge revs.

  44. Mammalian Verisimilitude says:

    (replying to Colin)

    One thing I’ve always wondered about flywheel KERS – don’t the flywheels generate a gyroscopic effect?

  45. Colin says:

    “One thing I’ve always wondered about flywheel KERS – don’t the flywheels generate a gyroscopic effect?”

    If you have two flywheels rotating in opposite directions, apparently not, but I’m no expert, there’s lots more information on the Official Williams site.

    Noticing how marginal the softer tyres were in this race, I think the KERS runners will be more circumspect in applying the KERS boost in future.

  46. Facchetti says:

    Good post. Not to make light of their pain, but did anyone else wonder if Honda’s media buyers in the UK were playing a prank this weekend?

    I kept on seeing their campaign which features a burly guy in a retro driving suit (two stripes a-la McQueen rather reminiscent of the 70s style Brawn outfits) driving off a cliff and finally disappearing in a hot-air balloon.

    All it needed to rub more salt in the wound was to add a smiling Branson giving them the bird from the safety of the balloon’s basket while singing the last refrain of “Impossible Dream” …

  47. Boston F1 Fan says:

    - I was thinking the same thing, that Brawn might not have been as competitive with the corporate pressure of Honda and a Honda engine. Anyway, it was a thrilling race. Bring on Malaysia!

  48. Ben James says:

    Oh Facchetti that is just hilarious! I laughed my head off!
    the very idea of Branson in his balloon and fipping the bird has floored me! lmao

  49. Oscar says:

    Think someone needs to re-edit that advert to put the Virgin Baloon in at the end. :)

  50. DanB says:

    Honda, like Renault, were given permission to bring their engines up to an equal level of performance over the winter, so it wouldn’t have been down on power.

  51. Oscar says:

    You’ve got to say the fact that Hamilton finished 3rd from the back of the grid is almost as astonishing as the dominance of the Brawns. Hamilton was very lucky with the cars in front having problems but he was driving a terrible car and still delivered the goods!

    It could be the best thing for this stage of his career and his credibility as a great racing driver to prove he can still deliver with a bad car and bad grid position.

  52. raffamuffin says:

    Hi! There is a petition @

    http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/26544.html

    Loved the twittering James :)

  53. Steven says:

    I must admit I prefered the BBC coverage including the commentary. James to me is best in this kind of role. He is an amazing F1 writer and I’d much rather have him to this site with his Twitter updates than call the race. The BBC committed a howler not bringing in the wonderful Ben Edwards. He is the best commentator in motorsport after Murray.

    I found this website to be one of my most visited (after the BBC and Autosport

  54. Tom says:

    I guess the importance of tyres will come and go from track to track, with the different compounds on offer. We had quite an extreme case here with super-softs and falling late-afternoon temperatures, I guess some races there’ll be less performance difference between hard and soft, like last year – or a too-hard option that some cars can’t get the heat into?

    I thought Theissen’s claim that Kubica would have won was just fighting talk – Button always had a 2 to 3-second cushion, and Robert would have run out of laps before he got a proper shot at the lead…anyway, we shall never know.

    KERS-wise, the most interesting comparison for me (once they both qualify properly in the top 10) will be Heidfeld with KERS vs Kubica without. Nick, like Glock, sneaks up on great race results, and he’ll make good use of KERS. He’d made a good start today before he was bundled off.

  55. F1 fan says:

    Lewis did do well in someways…he kept it on the track. But he was slow, only overtook because of KERS and only got 3rd because:

    1. Incident packed race (Vettel/Kubica/Kovalinen/Massa/Kimi)
    2. Penaltys (Toyotas, then Trulli)
    3. Saftey cars. He would have been nowhere near Trulli in the first place.

    Unlucky for Trulli about a 25s penalty puts him near the back because of a safety car at the end. Watch out for the Toyota’s and the Ferarri’s in Malaysia.

    James, do you know what happened to Kimi…5 stops! One on lap 12ish, then with Kubica. Then there are still 3 more…maybe one for the off he had. So at least 2 unsceduled stops. Then a differential problem on lap 55. Ferrari never normally do well in Oz so it’s not the true pace of the Ferrari’s.

  56. alex m says:

    “F1 fan – Lewis did do well in someways…he kept it on the track. But he was slow, only overtook because of KERS and only got 3rd because:…….”

    LOL… Did you not watch the bits where he managed to get his slower car alongside other cars and then outbreak them into the next corner ? That is how most passes were made and to say Lewis “only overtook because of KERS” is plain daft … why were the other KERS cars not pulling off the same trick all the time ?

    Lewis finished 3rd in a poor car, do you want him to race next week with a hand tied behind his back or have you got some excuses ready for that too ?

    The simple fact is that Lewis is way better than his peers at overtaking, no matter what the car is.

  57. PaulL says:

    As competent as Lewis is at overtaking, I have to say that once again nobody bothered to defend. What I want to see is defence like Glock put up in GP2 at Turkey in 2006. That’s defending, none of this “after you sir”.

  58. F1 fan says:

    To alex

    I did see how other drivers used KERS…the Ferrari’s used it coming out of a corner while Lewis used a lot on the two straights. Without KERS, against the other KERS cars, Lewis would simply not get past.

    I know Lewis can overtake…everyone can. Not sure if he’s the best. It’s risky what he does, just sticks it on the inside from a long way back and hopes it works. It normally does because (most) other drivers do not want to collide. One day someone wont let Lewis by, then either a big accident (that is Lewis’ fault) or he will have to improve his overtaking more.

    Kimi and Alonso…watch Kimi on Fisi Japan 05, Kimi on Lewis Spa 08 and Alonso on Schumacher Japan 05. They are great overtakes. Round the outside, anyone can stick it on the inside, you need a lot of skill and “the balls” as Lewis would put it to go right round the outside.

    Hope you can see my points. Just my opinion, that going round the outside is harder.

  59. JP says:

    Good race. Brundle mediocre, Legard poor, Humphrey excellent, DC ok, EJ waste of space. Croft ok Davidson excellent. And Holley Samos’ “its buggered” oops lol.

    I was disappointed overall with the BBC team. There was not enough calm sit-back what’s going on analysis during the race. Have to say that when Murray retired there was an outcry but he was beginning to let it all slip. James Allen, by contrast was getting better and better and the last half dozen were top notch. Did I detect a more confident and ballsy response to Brundle in those races? I think so.

    So KERS works and makes a difference. Those front wings are stronger than they look. And 2grade difference in tyres makes a huge difference to race and outcome.

    But champions win races in cars that shouldn’t and score a shed full of points when all looks lost. Hamilton had a very very good day.

  60. Ben James says:

    Fantastic!

  61. MartinWR says:

    Ant commenting on practice was excellent. Calm (as most drivers are), very knowledgeable and pleasant with it.

    Grand Prix heaven would simply be two driver commentators, who wouldn’t become hysterical at the sight of an overtaking manoeuvre, or a race start, but continually give us the sort of insight which can only derive from actually doing the business. Dream on.

  62. Marilyn says:

    Here, Here, something was lacking and it was James. John Legard was OK, but at times he sounds like he was commentating on a horse race. Sorry but bring back James Allen now.

  63. Colin says:

    Mr. Legard already turned his back on F1 once before, and (thankfully) abandoned his role following F1 for BBC radio. He opted to report on football matches instead. He supports Gillingham.

    I suspect the constant travel involved in monitoring F1 got to him, and he threw in the towel.

    He won’t last long…

  64. MartinWR says:

    Reubens referred to driveability of the Merc power-plant, in terms of its predictable response. Gave the impression that it was an absolute revelation to him.

  65. Colin says:

    “There was not enough calm sit-back what’s going on analysis during the race.”

    And that’s very difficult to do, especially whilst commentating, listening to your producer in the cans, and watching the lap times and splits. James was and remains the very best at that.

    I followed the race and James’ Twitter comments was open by the side, and several times I was stunned by his insightful remarks. He knows his onions!

    It’s be good if he could get an alternative live commentary set up via the internet, then we could turn the Telly sound down and have James commentating again. Like we do with cricket Test Matches.

  66. George says:

    In the incident at the first corner Rubens got punted from behind by Heikki, you can see it from the onboard shot but unfortunately not the other camera angles. The incident with Raikonnen was more of an issue, but as he hardly touched him, and didn’t do any damage as far as I know, it would be a bit hard to penalise him.

  67. shaun says:

    I agree, get Blundell back too!

  68. Mooks says:

    That’s actually a good point there, Tom. I did forget that the track would be cooler compared to previous years.

    I do think Kubica’s car would seriously suffer if they put KERS in, and Nick will be interesting to watch.

  69. Mike Ellison says:

    Don’t forget Massa and his dad.

  70. Mike Ellison says:

    How can Auntie be a Mr? Surely it should be Ms BBC :)

  71. George says:

    I agree, for starters admitting his mistake means he can forget it and move on, instead of trying to shift the blame and pretend he did nothing wrong.

    This also means the fans and media will probably give him an easier time of it, which is certainly a plus point.

    Hopefully he wont have to apologise after every race, he doesn’t have a great record in that department ;).

  72. Dave says:

    Thats all fine… providing you get away first and are no hi-jacked by a KERS car at the start, then you gain no advantage hanging behinf them

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