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Button clears the air with third win in four
Button clears the air with third win in four
Posted By:   |  26 Apr 2009   |  5:24 pm GMT  |  16 comments

Jenson Button and the Brawn team took their third win in four races this afternoon at the Bahrain Grand Prix, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but the result could have gone either way. The two cars were very evenly matched. What made the difference was that Button was able to run in clear air and Vettel wasn’t.

The key moment of the race was the end of the first lap, where Button was able to pass Lewis Hamilton under braking into turn one. This allowed him to run in clear air ahead of Hamilton, while Vettel was held up by the McLaren driver, losing 10 seconds in the first 15 laps.

Vettel’s strategy was for him to run four laps longer than his main rivals, but he was not able exploit it because he was held up. This meant that he wasn’t able to build enough of a margin over Trulli in the four laps he had in clear air and when he rejoined after his pit stop he found himself behind Trulli. To make matters worse Trulli’s Toyota team had made a mistake on tyre choice and Trulli was on the hard tyre, which was a second per lap slower than the soft. So Vettel lost another ten seconds and lost his chance to fight Button for the win. Neverthless it was another strong result for Vettel and Red Bull. Vettel said afterwards that he hopes and expects to be able to challenge Button more closely at the next few races when he gets some more updates.

Button had some reliability concerns today. The team cut some holes in the bodywork to help the cooling and at times Button turned the engine down from maximum revs to protect it. He admitted afterwards that if he had had Vettel’s race, following other cars for most of the time, the car would have overheated and he would have had to drop back.

Three wins and a third place from the first four races is an impressive haul. Button has 31 points but it would have been 36 if the Malaysian race had gone the full distance and been awarded full points.

He may come to regret not receiving those points at the end of the season. Cerrtainly it looks like Vettel and Red Bull will be challenging him for the title and I think Hamilton and McLaren will too. Their rate of development has been stunning and they have the double diffuser to come in Spain.

Brawn have really capitalised on their performance advantage at the start of the season and even squeezed a win out here where they were not really the fastest car, either in race or qualifying trim. Toyota had the fastest lap in both, but Brawn was able to carve the win out of the opportunity Button gave them by passing Hamilton early on (the McLaren having eased past him at the start using his KERS button).

Button said after the race that he has no idea what the state of play will be when the teams reconvene in Barcelona, given that most people will have virtually new cars,
“We’ve got an upgrade (believed to be worth three tenths of a second per lap) coming in Barcelona. I just hope that it’s enough. Nobody knows. And the thing is that we can’t go testing either , so we don’t get that chance to get the feel for it. ”

This Brawn car is the result of over a year’s development, enormous investment from Honda and exploits a clever loophole in the rules that others are now free to copy. From here on it’s about keeping the developments coming. The team does not have the resources of the leading teams to spend on development, but it does have a year’s head start.

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The other "key moment" was in turn one on lap one. Vettel lost 3rd to Hamilton and the 4th to Button in quick succession. Had he held 3rd, he'd have been in the position Button found himself, and the rce would have looked quite different.

Brawn are learning the danger of fuelling too long in qualifying, with those KERS cars able to pass. Don't be surprised to see them running a Toyota-style strategy in Spain, unless their upgrades leave them miles ahead (which I don't expect, but nothing surprises in F1 anymore).


Button's performance in Bahrain goes to show that Britain could have had an F1 World Champion years ago if any of the top teams had been prepared to back him. For reasons better known to themselves they weren't. You have to wonder why. Instead he languished in the wilderness (relatively speaking) for years while many who would have been better keeping quiet, rubbished him far and wide. The first four races have also amply demonstrated the gulf in class between Jenson and his team-mate, no slouch himself.



any idea why Button ran with the rear wheel covers but Rubens didnt??


Great victory for Jenson, I hope that Brawn GP will remain strong for the whole season!


Brawn's dominance is surely due to more than just the double diffuser - after all, Williams have one as well and they're nowhere. Hamilton is quoted on Autosport as saying he doesn't expect to go as well in Spain due to it being a high downforce circuit, which suggests that they're still lacking compared to Brawn as well as similarly double diffuser-less Red Bull.


Just wondering how many Honda executives have committed hara-kiri since the beginning of the 2009 Formula One season...


Every article about this race that I've read seems to imply that Vettel was unlucky not to have won the race, and/or that Button was lucky that Vettell got caught behind Hamilton. Rubbish. Button got himself onto the clear, Vettel did not. Button won because he drove better, plain and simple.

I don't think we've seen the legs of the Brawn, yet. I hope someone can push Button a bit in Spain, so we can see just how fast that car is.


James, saw you on italian tv yesterday. Congratulations on your italian, had no idea you spoke it so well.


Dear me, what a fantastic race: I love the way the new regs mean that for lap after lap after lap we see the likes of Trulli, Vettel and Hamilton trading overtaking moves time and time again. Absolutely scintillating stuff.


It's a shame, given that the new regulations were meant to make overtaking much easier, that this race was dominated by the need for "clear air". Is this a sign of things to come?


I hope Brawn GP sort out a more permanent sponsorship deal soon, to enable them to commit to more development work.

I can't believe that for a 3rd time Jenson was pictured in front of the world's press with no logos on his race suit - surely this is prime space for someone?


I don't myself really believe that Jense is markedly less able to contribute to the development of the car than Schumi or Alonso, although someone with insider knowledge would be able to answer that one very readily. To my way of thinking there are special factors which may have led to that conclusion. At Renault he simply got a bad deal, rookie engineer, didn't cowtow to Flav on paying the team back 25% of his pay. Result was his face didn't fit, and it showed. At BAR, although the car was fast at times, I think it was more by accident than design. Certainly he has never consistently benefitted from the top class technical guys that the others have had, and they are a more important part of the design/development equation any time than the driver is. As for Honda, after Geoff Willis left they became a joke. It is rumoured that the Japanese management style simply can't hack it in F1. Ross Brawn joined too late too materially influence the 2008 car. If he had history might have been markedly different in a number of ways!

As for Rubens outscoring him last year, I guess Jense didn't think it was worth going balls out and risking his neck to prove himself in a car that the team itself couldn't be bothered with. He simply doesn't need to prove himself that way.

Apart from last year and his first few races, when he was pitched straight into the top rank of motor racing from Formula Three, he has consistently blown his team-mates away in races, including a world champion, for what its worth. Team-mate to team-mate comparisons are the best indicator of driver standards for outsiders to judge by. But it in addition to that its's the way he does it that marks him out. As well as being super quick, Jense is so stead, so consistent, hardly ever falls off the track, hardly ever punts others off, if ever, if you exclude the mayhem that can catch out anyone at the start. He doesn't try to make gains cutting corners, doesn't tell porkies, doesn't address foul language to his boss and benefactor.


The clear air in Bahrain had more to do with engine cooling than aero, if you notice towards the end of the race when Rubens was on the back of the Vettel, Trulli, Hamilton train down the straight he was pulling out of the Slipstream. In the high temperatures and engine cooling marginal it aint great following another car and only recieving hot air from the car in front.


I agree. Button has shown that with the right car he can win championships. He is a great driver and deserves a much better career than he has had. What he doesn't seem to be able to do is drive around a bad car and develop it in the way that Alonso and Schumacher did. I did find Ross Brawns comment that he may have been mistaken in not employing Button at Ferrari when he had the chance interesting.

Don't be too quick to write off Rubens, after all he out qualified Jenson last year, and beat him in the championship. He is also one of the highest points scorers of all time.

I think that it is interesting that Flavio has criticised Button publically, particularly when you consider that in the last races of 2006 (from Hungary onwards) he scored more points than any other driver, including Schumacher and Alonso, who had much better cars.

As they say: Form is temporary, class is permanent


MartinWR: Here here! I must admit that i nearly broke my fist on the ceiling when Jense outbraked Hamilton.

I've been waiting almost 10 years to see Button set the record straiight! He seems to get a lot of hate - i hope he has enough points and the other teams are so closely intertwined from now on, that his advantage lasts to the end of the season and see's hime take the WDC!


Probably to do with brake cooling. Rubens perhaps runs different brakes than Jenson.

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