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Get your money on Brawn for Melbourne win!
Get your money on Brawn for Melbourne win!
Posted By:   |  13 Mar 2009   |  10:14 am GMT  |  66 comments

It’s official! The Brawn is the fastest car in the F1 field with two weeks to go before the start of the season! It is an extraordinary story.

The Barcelona test, which finished on Thursday, could well go down as one of the most remarkable events in recent F1 history, as a team which seemed dead in the water at Christmas, bounced back and not only set the fastest outright lap of the week, but showed that it is faster over the race distance than the Ferrari!

Amazingly for a brand new car, reliability was very good too. The car covered over 2,000 kilometres during the four days using the same Mercedes engine (!) and had very few technical issues.

It looks very much as though the battle for victory in Melbourne will be between Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, as long as the car lasts the distance. It has done two race distances in the last two days, so the omens are good. And the competition between the two Brawn drivers is fierce – yesterday Rubens was faster than Jenson was the day before over the long runs, but there was far less wind and the track was more rubbered in.

If you make a direct comparison between the race distance runs of Massa and Button on Wednesday and Barrichello on Thursday you see that Jenson does 19 laps below 1m 21, Barrichello does 14, while Massa manages just 2!

What is even more impressive is that on the 19th lap of his 20 lap first stint Rubens does a 1m 19.971 – startling proof that the Brawn looks after its tyres very well over a long run. The team really are in amazing shape! In contrast the Ferrari’s lap times tail off into the 1m 22s at the end of the 20 lap stints.

If I get some time I’ll work out exactly how far ahead of the Ferrari the Brawn would have been over a race distance.

In fact, so stunning was the Brawn’s pace in Barcelona, it has caused all the F1 teams to completely revise their targets for the season. As I write this, there are briefings going on in all the team’s factories as the full impact of the Barcelona data sinks in. Of course the teams will have big updates for Melbourne, which will make them faster, whereas the Brawn car is is Melbourne specification now, so the gap will close up.

Also Brawn flying is not the best advert for KERS, as the team is not using it and won’t be until later in the season.

Don’t forget, Barcelona is a great yardstick for the season as it rewards aerodynamic efficiency and good tyre management, so if your car goes well there it’s going to go well at most places.

One team engineer I spoke to remembers an meeting last season when the then Honda engineers said that they were going to be a long way ahead in 2009. Given where they were at the time, everyone laughed it off. They are not laughing now.

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Can you give us any info on Brawn GP merchandise James? If their pace is true, then I'm sure they'll be shifting it by the lorry load!


I heard Mclaren find the problem to their rear grip issues do you have any info on that James? Thanks for your insight, us fans appreciate every little abit of info!

I still believe Mclaren will lag abit behind, whatever they do in terms of upgrades/fixing the problem. They might fix the problem but they still need to prove their pure speed and times over the long runs.

As for Brawn GP car with more miles into has more potential to go alot faster once they learn about the cars characteristics and ironout the flaws from the Barcelona test.


Brawn GP's performance has increased the anticipation for the season 10 fold! I cannot wait to see if they can confirm the pace in the BGP01 and qualify high up on the Aussie GP grid. And what a turn around it would be!

All the other teams must have broke a few jaws when they see the pace of Brawn at Barcelona.

This is going to be a long 2 weeks of waiting!


After all, I just hope Brawn are not going to steal the show completely as it was going to be a very exciting one without any clear favourites...Now it's a catch up game for the first couple of races...


If this materialises it will be incredible, but don't get carried away just yet. I'd love to see Brawn win in Australia, whether with Button or Barrichello, but something in the back of my mind says something is bound to go wrong.

One thing's for sure- that article just got me even more excited for the first race, and I didn't think that was possible!


Im really excited about Brawn's performance, and cant wait till the season gets under way. Thers been alot said that Honda didnt want to close the team down because itwould have been expenive, but also embarresing. Surely if Brawn win there first race (which looks possible) that will be 10 times more embarresing for Honda!


I hope and pray that you're right, James. As I've said before, 2009 has been the year all my hopes were pinned on, as a Jenson Button fan - Ross Brawn has been talking about 2009 as the season they'll deliver since he arrived at Brackley, so to find out it's all true is music to my ears.

If I'm dreaming it all, please don't wake me up!


Rubens had the legs on Button most of the time last year, so you'd have to think about putting your money on Rubens, yes?


Go Jenson!


In your article James, you are stating that in the long runs, BGP are 2.5 seconds per lap faster than a Ferrari (which is considered the second fastest car out there at the moment). Are you insane?

First of all, how do you know the drop off in laptime for the Ferrari was attributed to the tyre degradation? The 1.22s Massa was doing could easily be improved upon, if they had another chance to do so.


I hope they do well in the 1st few races because I would imagine the big teams will be able to out-develop them over the season. I can't believe the car is underweight because they would just make themselves look stupid when they got to the first race - and it's not what Ross Brawn would do.

I'm really happy for Jenson though. Lewis has put him in the shade and he deserves a bit of the limelight again for sticking with that team through everything.


I have heard Brawn might be below the minimum weight to get the headlines? is this likely?


Just http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7941572.stm" rel="nofollow">read that Macca say they are not in a position to win (yet) [ Tip, Mr Finn. I rather liked the regal "We are not competitive" accompanying the giant mugshot of Hamilton - Moderator ]


I don't really understand all of the surprise. They have had almost double development time and still strong Honda resources, great group of people, facilities during the development phase. Two very experienced drivers hungry for success. It will be interesting to see how the others react. However I don't want see a competition in the future who can start developing cars the earliest. I want to see the best drivers to fight. Now, it's a catch up game for the others...


Clackers: It could be correct. It's not unknown for the fastest car to be 2+ seconds per lap faster than the 2nd fastest at the beginning of a season.

McLaren, Ferrari and Williams have all managed it in various seasons in the past.


I'm a big Ferrari fan but I'd still be okay if Brawn beat them in the Oz GP. That comes out of my admiration for the whole team of personnel who have been enduring awfully difficult times.


Martin, Brawn already grabbed the headlines when they finally launched.

It would be foolish and wasteful for Brawn to run an underweight car during testing so close to the first race, particularly when they've had such little test mileage.

And judging from the reports, they are not short of money (at least in the short term), so they don't need the media attention.

So they look legit. And that's what's got people excited.

Hopefully it will translate into race results! Even if they manage to do as well as BMW in recent years, that would be a very good outcome.


well... i hope the the pace of bgp001 is true and not hoax... prost team showed some incredible speed at winter testing before 2001 season but they just scored 4 point and went bankrupt. is it true that the BGP001 was actually developed in 2007?

If it's true that mean they are far ahead than other team in term of the 2009 preparation... No wonder they doing such at pretty good job in Barcelona. Good luck to BrawnGP. I really love to see underdog crushing those big name Ferrari and McLaren!!!


I am a little bit skeptical of brawn GP's early pace. My gut says the car is underweight with no KERS installed and that Brawn GP is on a crafty PR mission. They have successfully managed to rack up loads of column inches and have achieved top billing an almost every auto site and blog.

I do hope their early pace materializes into GP success. Another proper British independent, get in!



I have never been so glued to a blog and the related comments - this is fantastic

1 - A potential 1st win for a privateer team
2 - Possible resurgence of a driver in his twilight years - Reubens could do a Mansell
3 - Jenson finally gets a car to compete with the best - not just 2nd best like 2004
4 - Mclaren have a mountaint to climb which will produce some of the best over-taking by Lewis, who is probably the best at being a bit mental
5 - Ferrari unreliability playing a part (I love that bit)
6 - Rosberg in the Williams getting back to the front
7 - Webber/Vettel taking chunks out of each other
8 - Conspiracies about Mercedes giving Brawn dodgy engines
9 - Proper racing..

I'm going to wee myself a little if Brawn wins that first race!!!!

this is gonna be a long 2 weeks!


I am very excited about the performance of Brawn GP. At first I was rather cynical about the times thinking they are just trying to grab a few good headlines; but the more the times have improved, the more I have changed my mind.

You have to assume that they wouldn't jeopardise their whole grand prix season just to look good in testing - especially if they are financially secure for this year. Or could it be that their financial situation isn't clear cut and they are rather more desperate for sponsors than they are letting on? Maybe. What do you think?

Either way, surely the best way to get sponsorship is to win races, not run an underweight car in testing, otherwise they will look rather silly when the season starts.

I can't wait to see what happens in Australia!


James I took your advice, I just put 20 quid on Brawn GP to win the championship! Not normally a betting man but thought it would be worth a punt.


I have to say I agree with all the above comments, and telling people in the office about how Mclaren are having to use the high viz paint to understand their performance while Brawn are blowing everyone out of the water, getting very excited in the process, finally believing this is Jenson's and Rubens' year to get what they finally have deserved for all their patience.

But then it struck me, Honda did this a couple years ago in testing, everyone was sucking in through their teeth at the Honda lap times and wringing their hands in a worried fashion, and then nothing.

The fact that they are better in 20 lap runs than ferrari actually doesn't mean anything until we understand the amount of fuel, yes the brawn looks after it's tired better, but maybe because it was consistently 3kg lighter in fuel than the Ferrari.

It doesn't change the fact that I cannot wait for Melbourne, hoping we see a brawn 1-2, but I have to say a health dose of reality is called for I feel


From what I have read and seen so far, this season could be a classic in terms of the numbers of teams and drivers in with a shout....and from the british point of view, exciting to think that even if lewis may struggle this year, Jenson could well take up the challenge instead. I hope that the testing pace is genuine and that Brawn is well to the front for the whole season.

The only fly in the soup for Brawn would IMO be that the sponsorship they hopefully attract would spoil the clean looks of one of the best looking cars on the grid.....although I'm sure that Ross would paint it bright pink if the cheque was big enough!

Excellent site James, look forward to your insight throughout the year.


"One team engineer I spoke to remembers an meeting last season when the then Honda engineers said that they were going to be a long way ahead in 2009. Given where they were at the time, everyone laughed it off. They are not laughing now."

If Honda were so confident, then why did they bail?


JA writes: Clackers, read the article more closely. The difference in lap time is much less than 2 secs, it's only a few tenths. The only time it is that level is at the end of the stint, for one lap only.

Charlie W - I said get your money on for Melbourne, not the championship! I still fancy one of the Ferrari guys to win the title.


POSSIBLY yellow and black BWIN colours?????

Brawn sponsors????? https://www.bwin.com/" rel="nofollow">Bwin.com

Might explain why they went so fast this week! Cynical speculation rather than a theory 😉 We don't even know if BWIN are going sponsor Brawn for sure.


So many Bs


Most anticipated season start in living memory for me, us Honda/Button/Barrichello fans have been sitting at home for nigh on 6 years for the team to finally pull together and make a car that will give the rest a run for its money. The fact they have turned up and been instantly quick is impressive, we could expect a day or 2 of dialing in but they were 4th on day 1 and by day 4 they were in the distance.

Melbourne cannot come soon enough.


I will make a video of me racing on my steering wheel (ps3) naked and post it on YouTube if there's a Bawn one-two in the race at Aus 2009. It's going to be Robert for the win. I have a crystal ball.

PS: Does anyone know when the new game's out please please please??? (This I cannot see in my ball) [ Perhaps a hint too much information, there, VonSpeex. Take care, anyhow. You know what they say about looking at your ball for too long ... - Moderator ]


We've still got one testweek to go in Jerez next week, were among others Honda and McLaren will be present.

After these tests we may know more, but still too early to tell (imho). I'll wait till the GP of Australia to see which teams perform or not.


I like Finn's theory, its interesting. Not sure if true, but interesting approach.


Some great insightful stuff again James, it's fascinating how almost on a daily basis the picture seems to be changing. I really hope the Brawn-Mercedes is as good as everyone is making it out, it would be some story if they won in Melbourne after everything that has happened.

I'm surprised though that none of the other teams seem to think that some of Brawn's pace is due to running without ballast to attract sponsors, do they know something that suggests the car is running at a legitimate weight?


So the most relevant questions of the moment, 2009 03 13, 19h45 GMT, 1. Is the BGP pace for real, and 2. Is the McLaren pace for real?

Brawn: The magician, perhaps the greatest F1 strategist of the current era, if not all time! What would he be up to, if the car was not on that seemingly unbelievable pace? I noticed no sponsors. If a way could be found bring in the big bucks, for a reasonable time period, then sooner or later, he, Brawn, can almost certainly make a competitive team and car. So, manipulating the car so as to appear faster than it is, would be a good strategic ploy. It's so good, it should be considered. But people want to believe, including me. The entire time Honda was back in, I expected them to go to the top. Have they finally arrived now, and pulled out simultaneously? It would be nice to see Rubens and Jensy get some. If the car is for real, I have a feeling that Rubens could be world champion. It'll be fun, regardless.

McLaren: Who would have predicted it? The car is pretty for this year's crop, too; it looks fast! Do they really have problems with the back end, or are they holding back on a technical innovation until the last possible moment, so that it would be difficult, if not impossible to replicate with this year's test restrictions. McLaren have one of the top two computational fluid dynamics models of all of the teams. Could they be so confident in an innovative design that they would hold it so late without actual track testing? It could be. If their poor pace is legit, then can even they pull it up to the top in time to make a serious championship run?

Conclusion: Regardless of the answers to these questions, the changes to regulations have stirred up the pot a bit; I like that.


Geez makes me wonder, if they dominate this year will Ross continue to look for new owners or catch the FrankWilliams privateer bug.

Glory to the RossBrawnEmpire!!!


WOW u all say, and so do I...

James, good stuff mate, good stuff! This is what it's all about, it should be exciting, unpredictable and fascinating, and it is.

James, has the car been engineered in such a way as to respond well to Jenson's driving style, you know, smooth, controlled and easy on the tyres? I suspect it has, let us now what you think on this, I think it's important..

Keep rolling fella!



What is the maximum weight the car can be underweight realistically 50kgs? By how much would this translate into quicker lap times, 0.3-0.4 seconds per 10kg? So at the most this could relate to a 2 second a lap advantage.


Holly s**t is the BranwGP real or not??

Massa's comments is strange: "As far as the aerodynamic solutions are concerned I can only say that I'm not the one to comment on that. First of all I'm not an engineer, but a driver and then there's [the FIA], which has the task to see if everything is alright or not."


Looks like Brawn GP is an instant favourite with English speaking fans.
If Louise is still signed to manage their PR, perhaps she'll help you secure the rights to pen the first chapter of your next book James. And they said the days of privateer teams were over.

Enjoyed the way Ross used the Bridgestone/Brawn Logo on the nose cone.

Perhaps we'll even see some F1 duct tape this year.

My guess is they are quick because they side-stepped KERS, and can place ballast more usefully.

The stored electrical energy in the KERS system will surely spark a fireball the next time a car disintegrates like Kubica's in Canada, or there's a fuel spillage in the pit lane? We've already had one fatality... just from touching it. Here to stay? Probably banned following a conflagration at Monaco. Which would leave Brawn nicely placed in the development race.


Well i just put £5 on Button (like i normally do) for wdc £5 10-1 Rubens for wdc 20-1 and £5 Brawn gp for cc 16-1

And to be honest I'm pretty confident one of those has a better chance than any previous year of coming true! I was too scared to put bets on Lewis this year based on how he seemed to try to throw away the title last year and clearly how his team spent the entire R+D budget for 2009 on making sure he didn't finish the last race below 5th.

On another note wow this is literally the best damn blog on F1 kept anywhere on the web and if this were to become a premium service I would lend my cash to the region of £15 a month to improving the features here and getting live timers/practice video for the season and i bet many others would do the same.


Wow ... look at the replies you get for this topic, James...

Well, you've just given me one more reason to be impatient to wait for the 29th..


Brawn GP could bring a brand new down to earth, no fuss approach to merchandising and corporate entertainment. Where they exist to RACE.

I want a black bin liner with a brawn gp sticker and some flashes of fluorecent yellow spray paint. It would certainly beat the crummy merchandise provided by all the teams bar ferraris bright red polo shirts


Fantastic news - Good Luck to all in the team should they read this blog.....and they had better!


I'm gonna bet £10 that the FIA clip Brawn's wings when they declare the diffuser illegal before Melbourne

We can't have the 'holier than thou' Ferrari beaten by a privateer, can we now.

On another note James - how close are Ross and Mr Schumacher - any chance of him coming back out of retirment to drive this stunning to new car? His Ferrari contract is up this summer......

Only 2 weeks to go now!


Still can not get used to the name "BrawnGP". Somehow it does not fit with all the great names we have had in the past in F1.

As to the debate about brains or brawn, hopefully the team will benefit from Ross's brains (strategic brilliance) and his brawn (testicles) and come out a double winner.

I have been a long time supporter of Jenson so amazing if the car and reliability can keep going at this winning pace, for the whole season.


Regarding BGP's sponsors, if you download the testing reports from their website you can see that Perkin Elmer, Alpinestars, Ciber, Cytec, Endless, IBM, Layerstoke Park and STL are all named at the bottom. I'm guessing that they're waiting to get a title sponsor in place so they can put a complete livery together.

Regarding their pace, I just don't know what to make of it. I knew they'd see a big improvement in 2009, but the speed they've shown so far is just alarming. I was expecting them to go all out to top the tables, but I didn't expect them to spend too much effort on staying up there because they have so much work to get through at these tests. Taking the results lap by lap, it's clear that they're quick in race trim too, not just on simulated quali runs.

The one question that remains is how much the car weighs. Brawn have a lot of ballast to play with because of the lack of a KERS and it's natural to wonder if they've put all of it on the car. If they were just gunning for lap times, that would show up quite quickly in comparison to their more realistic tests, but that isn't the case. The only way the car can be light is if they're running it light for the whole test and that would be lunacy having not tested over the winter.

Speaking of KERS, I'll be interested to see if they decide to add this later in the season, as Honda's system looked very promising and if they can get it to work with the Merc unit, could show up McLaren once again.


I think he had blue flags in Japan 08, and yes, he didn't know what to do. I think Trulli was leading and he said he would complain.


How about 'Team Smith' in British Racing Green? Beauty F1 and Brains Racing merchandise should be available on the internet shortly.


I haven't heard any comment on the tyres that the drivers were running on. The gaps between compounds are meant to be bigger now, so if Massa was on softer tyres than Barrichello then that could be a large part of the difference and opposite trend in speed.

James did comment that the Ferrari does look good in braking stability and strong rear downforce helps here. Good traction is also a sign of good aero and mechanical grip , so if could be that the Ferrari wears its tyres out through increased load - not sliding, and this is the cause of the performance drop-off. Felipe may have caught up to a slower car (Lewis?) or been passed by Ruebens, or a change in cloud cover, or dirt on the track could all have contributed to the different trends in the car speeds.


Oh well, probably 20 quid down the drain but you never know, booked my tickets for Silverstone to cheer on Jenson, hopefully by then they will be still in the championship hunt having won a few!!??


Bunged a tenner on both drivers a couple of days ago - the odds were much better - 66/1 on Ruby & 25/1 on Jenson. It all adds to the excitement, will be waking the neighbourhood up if either wins.


Oh yeah I seem to have misread it slightly. Sorry about that. But still, if the Brawn is around 2 seconds faster at the end of a 20-lap stint when compared to their nearest challenger (allegedly due to tyre degradation) then something must be VERY RIGHT with that car!

However, I have read Button commenting on how his car also suffered tyre degradation (I think Wednesday) into the long runs, but if Rubens was able to avoid it on that final specific lap, then I am sure the data will be shared with Button.

The point I was trying to make though, was that perhpas Massa had 'backed off' somewhat on his final lap of his comparable stint, or was deliberately taking it steady, yet you were insinuating that it could have been down to the Ferrari unable to go any faster if even it had wanted to due to tyre degradation. I just wondered if there's any evidence of this you haven't yet told us about?


Sorry, but what's that supposed to mean? Whose quote is it for a start?


Thats a fair point Phil, it's easy to forget that they have been developing it for so long. But reading craig Scarborough's technical analysis on autosport.com highlights the autonomy brawn GP will have in being able run ballast in optimum places on the car. It may pan out over the course of the season that the advantages of not having KERS will outweigh the positives.

Maybe Brawn GP should have to run ballast in fixed locations that is representative of a KERS setup.


The proof you seek is in the evidence before you.. If after months of testing developing honing slick tyres etc by Ferrari produces a worse results than a 4 day old Brawn, with drivers who haven't driven for months, or tested the new regs, it is obvious yhat no amount of lack of balast or backing of by Massa can account for the clear demonstaration by Brawn


Well there is no definitive proof as of yet. But Massa did say that the Ferrari could not match that pace even on a low fuel run.


I did the same, also put a little bit on Brawn winning the constructors championship. It was really worth the risk with those kind of odds.

First time I've bet on anything in my life. Even had my bank ringing me up to ask whether it was me who made these "gambling transactions".

Apparently Jenson was at 50/1 on Wednesday. The odds are shortening by the day.

Agree on the excitement thing, who knows, other teams may catch up or end up being slightly ahead, but at least it provides extra interest!


It wasn't about success of failure to them, it was about justifying the gross expenditure during an unprecedented global financial crisis with car sales low and the yen very high against other currencies.


Because the guys in charge at Honda who were making these big decisions don't know a thing about F1, and simply panicked due to the financial situation.

Stephen Kellett

And I wonder how Dave Richards and Richard Branson are feeling now? Looks like they should've got involved.


I'm not, they have world class facilities, ditched the Japanese aero designer who mucked up the 07 and 08 cars (IIRC he was a bike designer and all his aero knowledge came from that), have an engine with around 80bhp more and started developing the car 2 years ago.

If they weren't fast I'd be sceptical.


Please, not naked!


Regarding point 4, I hope Lewis can remember what blue flags mean, I dont think he's been on the recieving end of many these past two years ;). In all seriousness though, I would love to see how he does in the mid-pack and how he compares to Alonso last year.


Re point 4. Yes! Hamilton in an a car off the pace is going to be scintillating. Can't wait!!


If that's what you want to do, then be my guest my friend, but personally I'd rather wear some clothing to show my support.

Besides, merchandise will help to provide extra funding to the Brawn GP team, which they clearly need in the long term. [ Other James. Do you know if they will they be selling branded pants? - Moderator ]


You might well be right, DanB .... will be interesting to see how the year pans out.


Ross Brawn said at the end of 2008 that the car wasn't developed to Jenson's tastes. They only really developed areas relevant to 2009, and not tailored the car to the drivers requirements as they perhaps would have done in a normal season (ie one where they were throwing their weight behind fixing a bad car, not giving up on it and focussing on 2009) [ what http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/71999" rel="nofollow">Autosport wrote ].

They also gambled a lot on strategies, splitting to two cars to hedge their bets. The luck usually came to Rubens in 2008.

Jenson and Ross have said that the car suited Rubens style more, and if you look back to 2007, when the car was at its worst, Rubens had the advantage. Whenever Jenson had a sniff however, he was the one taking advantage and scored all of their points. In the three years they've been team mates, Rubens only had the better of Jenson once. When the car is good, Jenson is usually ahead, but maybe Rubens can make more of a bad car.

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