A fantastic Brazilian Grand Prix ended with Red Bull’s Mark Webber taking the victory, his second of the season, but Jenson Button won the world championship, ironically finishing the race in fifth place, the result that did it for Lewis Hamilton last season. He becomes the tenth British driver to win the F1 world championship.
Brawn won the constructors’ world championship in their first season as an F1 team. The team, formerly Honda, almost didn’t survive the winter and was saved at the last minute by Ross Brawn and his management team. To win the world title from that position is fairy tale stuff.
Button needed to sprint, rather than crawl across the finish and he did so today with a great drive.
Starting 14th on the grid, Button was helped greatly by a series of accidents at the start which brought out the safety car. He was up to 9th at that point, with a long fuel load and that was the platform for winning the title today. But he had to go out and attack, passing Grosjean, Nakajima, Kobayashi and Buemi. All were bold moves, of the kind he has put in all season. After some poor races lately it was the swashbuckling drive he needed to make himself feel good about clinching the title.
The pass on Kobayashi in particular was really important. The Japanese on his race debut proved a stubborn competitor and at that point Button needed to get past him as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were threatening from behind and the cars ahead which he needed to pass, like Buemi, were getting away from him.
Rubens Barrichello, his main opposition, started from pole position, but after his first pit stop he rejoined in traffic and was passed by Sebastian Vettel. A battle with Lewis Hamilton cost him further time and he lost places to Mark Webber and Robert Kubica as a result. He looked set to finish third but a late puncture dropped him down to 8th place.
Vettel, Button’s other championship rival ended up 4th after a strong drive from 15th on the grid.
After a lot of talk recently about whether Button would make a worthy world champion, he was justifiably proud of his drive today and his world crown,
“It’s amazing, I’m world champion and I think that race deserved it, ” he said “That was the way to do it. I had to make it work. Kobayashi was crazy. It took a while to get past him. It’s the most amazing day today. After qualifying I felt sick because of how tough it was. The last few month have been stressful. But it was a great race, really enjoyable.”
Ross Brawn was in tears after the race. “It will take a while to sink in. It’s special. He’s (Button) made it hard work the second half of the season. He had a great race today, he know what he had to do. We have lost a little bit compared to the other teams lately, but he’s stuck with it and he deserves it.”
I remember so vividly that day in Barcelona in March when they put this Brawn car on the track and it was so obvious that it was a rocket ship. That first test was such a revelation and the opening races of the season went Button’s way, he won six times in the first half of the season, but then a combination of the Brawn losing the development battle against Red Bull and McLaren and Button making heavy weather of the races, made the situation stressful.
Jenson Button, World Champion – Get in there!