Jenson Button’s chances of winning the world championship improved dramatically today with a fourth win from five starts.
It means that from a maximum 45 points he has scored 41. And with the next race in Monaco likely to be one of Brawn’s strongest tracks of the season, he looks set to cut down the number of people who can challenge him down to an absolute minimum. It’s starting to look like he is uncatchable. It’s a good job we don’t have the controversial medals system in place as he would be close to clinching the championship now.
Thus far the man most likely to challenge apart from his own team mate, is Sebastian Vettel. But Vettel has lost seven points to him in the last two races and now lies 18 adrift. Who else can challenge?
The Ferrari drivers have pretty much written of their chances, despite making a huge step forward here this weekend in car performance. It is possible that Ferrari will catch and pass Brawn on pace, but now that Felipe Massa is 38 points behind with only 12 races to go, he thinks he’s already run out of time to catch Button.
He said to a group of us this evening: “I don’t think so. We need to be realistic. After five races they won four.
“Even if we improve massively and we are three or four tenths if front of them they will still score points. Forget it.”
Toyota, as always are erratic this season, so it’s hard to see them winning consistently. That leaves Lewis Hamilton, who is 32 points behind. I said after Bahrain that the track had flattered them a bit, but that if they could keep up the development on the car they could still challenge.
This weekend they went backwards, with a new front wing which didn’t work. It is now starting to look as though this car may be possible to improve, but is destined not to be a front-runner. In the past McLaren might well have built a new car mid season, but they cannot afford it now and also it’s already too late to save the championship.
So that leaves the championship between Button, Barrichello, Vettel and Webber. And over the next few races we will lose a few more contenders. Brawn should dominate Monaco, because it is the best stop-and-start car. A glance at the tight sector 3 here shows you that. The Ferrari could go quite well there, but it won’t be a Red Bull track.
Turkey will be a good battle, while the fast curves of Silverstone will suit Red Bull. Nurburgring, Budapest and Valencia will be Brawn tracks, so you can see that it is looking very good for Button.
And he’s helped by the fact that all his rivals seem to be squandering their chances to beat him.