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What Brawn needs to do in Sepang
What Brawn needs to do in Sepang
Posted By:   |  01 Apr 2009   |  8:20 am GMT  |  36 comments

The Brawn team moves on to Sepang this weekend with a maximum points haul in the championship so far and the chance to double that advantage.

With its huge downforce, excellent balance and thumpingly powerful engine, the Brawn Mercedes car should be even more superior to the opposition on the fast flowing sweeps of Sepang. But there are still a few areas the team needs to work on.

Because there were only seven days of testing before the start of the season, they had to focus on reliability and race performance work. There was no time to look at maximising their speed over a single lap for qualifying, nor for practising pit stops.

They nearly came unstuck in the pits on Sunday, the second stop of Button in particular, almost losing him the lead to Vettel’s Red Bull, which also showed that it is very fast over the single lap. Although they had a 1-2 in qualifying, both drivers felt that there was a lot more that could come from the car in low fuel running.

Ross Brawn has put out a message today about the team’s attitude going into the weekend and some other areas that need to be worked on. He highlights reliability in the hot conditions and being prepared on the strategy side for heavy rain as top priorities.

“We know that our competitors will not stand still however and that the challenge will become ever more difficult from here. We can rise to that challenge and we have a very good and stable car which should go well around the Sepang circuit. As in Australia, we will need to maximise the practice running that we have on Friday to develop the set-up, and we will be faced with the usual reliability concerns caused by the high temperatures that we expect in Malaysia. As the race is later than usual in the calendar and will take place later in the day, we are expecting some rain showers, which will make the strategy for the weekend very interesting.”

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Brawn need to hone themselves a bit. But it's always been true in F1 that it's easy to look very smart and slick when you have the fastest car.

With Brawn having the most dominant car in F1 since the F2004, I don't think we're going to see them looking silly no matter what is chucked down from the skies of Malaysia.

Although I do fear a late shower coupled with the late start and what that will do for visibility. I don't think these early evening starts suit this sport one little bit.

A bit of rain might put paid to it once and for all.


Can't wait.
Please, Lord, let it rain...


>>>U need to see this. is this TRUE?


[ Have you checked the date of this report? - Moderator ]


Hi, James
Can you confirm that Lewis just switched to Brawn Gp? [ Ace, is it April 1 over there too? - Moderator ]


As much as I enjoy a good rainy race, a wet Sepang circuit at 5pm is not going to make for good viewing. If there is rain I would expect the Brawn cars to walk away in to the distance (Jens and Rubens being spectacular in the wet) before the race gets red flagged on lap 12. Do we really need that to happen?

I have to say that Mr. Ecclestone is, once again, causing a lot of problems unnecessarily with his meddling. I have never met a fan who does not enjoy getting up early for the flyaways. It's all in the interests of boosting his wallet at the expense of the drivers (Nelson Piquet on Sunday), the sport (causing endless controversy and scandal - along with his good friend Mr. Mosley) and the fans, by not actually giving us what we want (and then going on to say that he didn't want to ask us about everything anyway!).

I really do hope Malaysia stays dry and that we can have a wet race elsewhere. Catalunya, for example. 😀


Great blog James and hurry up getting back into that commentry box.


I reckon the one part of the race which could very easily catch the Brawn's out is the start. If a KERS car starts up in third, on the grippy side of the grid, you'd think they'd have a chance of getting through. This could be a big problem at the next two races, the run from the grid to the first corner will be huge.


A wet race would certainly be interesting. Can anyone give examples of how Button goes in the wet? I can't really remember any standout performances.

If its a wet one it'll certainly favour Hamilton, as long as his car is somewhat driveable, could play into his hand for some more good points and considering Massa is hopeless in the wet he could even extend his lead over the ferrari.


I live in South East Asia, and the monsoon has indeed come early this year, in fact it is thundering and pouring down as I tap. We were not expecting the rains for another 6 weeks.

Typically in Malaysia the early monsoon produces steaming hot humid days, with overcast afternoons, and torrential monsoon downpours around 4-6pm every day.

Herr Rosberg is correct to say the race would probably have to be stopped. Slicks in the monsoon would be suicidal.

The dim light conditions he also warned about, and low sun in the driver's eyes, should concern the race stewards.

I hope they bring the start time forward a click or two.


I think rain will spoil everyone's party. It will be typical for Hamilton starting in 17th position to come through and lucking into the victory, with him telling everyone what a great drive it was afterwards.

I saw a picture of the storms on the Sepang circuit the other day, and it looked like a river had burst its banks. Needless to say, the drainage system wasn't working properly. It the monsoon comes down during the race, the race will have to be stopped, and seeing as this bad weather is being predicted by every team and every driver, I think it's going to be a complete balls-up.

Still, hopefully qualifying will be dry. And I expect Button to get another Pole. I think he's always been better than Rubens in Malaysia. Behind the Brawns, one has to expect Webber and maybe the Ferraris to be best of the rest. Vettel's harsh 10 place grid penalty renders him irrelevant on Saturday.


Sir you commented before: "At the start he (RB) bogged down when the anti-stall mechanism kicked in as he left the line.”

In his post race comments he seemed to take responsibility for that. Was it his fault? I've scoured the media for an answer but nobody mentions it. If it was a technical glitch, surely that should be at the top of the thing to fix list?

Any word on what the source of the problem really was?

If it was Mr. Barrichello's fault, I can well understand the Team wishing to protect him from embarrassment, much like McLaren pleaded with us to believe the title-losing Brazil '07 electrical gearbox incident wasn't driver induced.

It was a digital (thumb) problem in my view.


Luke, I seem to remember the Hungarian GP of 2006 being wet!!! (or at least wet to begin with!)

John Kilmartin

James, what's the response been like to Hondas unprecedented press conference congratulating Brawn GP on their success? [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__Ab7LVZN70" rel="nofollow">View here ]


Hi James

Just want to say how much I appreciate your candid and insightful comments on this site.

Hope life is treating you well outside of TV commentary and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Keep up the good work!

BTW Do you think you'll remain mates with Brundle?


If the FIA is serious about getting the teams to cut costs, surely one of the first steps should be to ensure that the technical regulations are clear and unambiguous, to make sure that teams don't spend money developing parts that are then deemed illegal.

If the FIA leaves grey areas in the regs, then surely that's the fault of the FIA and the teams shouldn't be punished for ingenuity?

I was also wondering how, exactly, the stewards are appointed? It sometimes seems that, within F1, there are pockets of sloppiness, usually at the higher levels...

One more thing: if the FIA are going to insist on capping the teams' budgets, should they not perhaps also consider capping the amount of money that people like BE and CVC can take out of the sport?


I agree. The record's stuck. We can look forward to many years of the same old whines we had to endure from the anti-Schumacher crowd. All those years we heard that Michael Schumacher was just lucky - lucky that Eddie Jordan spotted him, lucky that Flav stole him, lucky that he hooked up with an excellent crew at Benetton, lucky that Ferrari were at an all time low and stole him and his crew from Benetton, lucky that he and his crew were able to drag Ferrari up from the depths. All just plain luck - no hard work, skill, or talent there either!


Yes they will indeed, and it may well catch many out, as it did in the memorable 1975 British Grand Prix, where only six cars finished. The big name drivers went off at the same slow corner due to aquaplaning. It was like watching the Keystone Cops.


The Brawn post-race technical analysis would surely be definitive, I hope the journalists ask them today, and we know for sure.

Re: Lewis' "finger trouble": Interesting I'd like to see that, but could it have not been merely hitting a button, but in being clumsy with the gear change paddles leading up to the "glitch".


"With Brawn having the most dominant car in F1 since the F2004"

Cripes, it's a bit early to pull that comparison out of the box isn't it?


Did you know gullible isn't a real word? Look it up in the dictionary and it isn't actually in there.


There's an onboard video floating around on youtube somewhere where you can see Lewis doesn't press anything; I'm not sure about Rubens' problem, the way he told Jenson before the podium suggests to me it wasn't his fault though, or maybe it's just an easy mistake to make in their car.


I agree, the Ferrari's could have made even more ground at Australia if they hadn't been blocked, they were going all over the track trying to find a way past!


I agree fully...did u see the ferrari start!!!


I agree Darren, and like you I suspect a KERS car will grab the lead in the drag to the first corner. Probably a Ferrari, BUT the KERS users will have to be much more circumspect using the boost button now they know the damage the extra power does to their tyres.

It really does bring an exciting edge to the tactical side of the race doesn't it? So even if a KERS car asserts itself and eeks out a 25 second lead, it's by no means certain to retain it as the tyres self-destruct.

I didn't realise the Williams cars were NOT using their KERS yet, so that's only Ferrari, McLaren, and one BMW using KERS so far.


That reminds me of something I was wondering about before the season began. How much water did the 1998- 2008 grooved dry tyres displace? Will the drivers struggle on dry tyres as it starts to rain even more than before, now that the grooves are gone?


Have to agree with Joel re the race timing, driving into the setting sun is not the best when as Jense said you can't see the turn-in points you can't see the apex and you can't see the exit. This is bound to cause a serious accident soon.
As most fans, I watch it live and then watch the afternoon re-run as well. If its at 2am instead of 5 am it makes no difference to most of us on a Sat or Sunday, if we miss it live we watch the re-run as do the more normal rest of the European audience.

Now that it's on the BBC with no adverts the main reason for Bernie's time shift has disappeared.


Very funny 😉


Load of rubbish....James do you concur?????


Button has gone well in all wet races really, although has been unfortunate with aquaplaning. Even in wet races such as Monaco 2008 where he destroyed his race early on by colliding with Heidfeld in the midfield, he was still lapping as the fastest man on the track for a while.

His smooth driving style suits the wet. The less movement you have on the steering wheel, the safer you are, and this minimises the chances of a mistake. Massa needs to learn from him. 😉

But IMO Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel are the 3 best wet weather drivers in F1, Button is #4.

If a young driver with no experiences shows up older drivers in the rain, then you know he has a great (not merely 'good') career ahead of him. A certain RegenMeister Michael Schumacher noticed Alonso in 2000/2001 and then Vettel in the mid 2000s and earmarked them as future stars. In fact, Vettel even tested in tricky conditions for BMW at the age of 18 and ended the day fastest of all 8 runners.


I recall Button doing ok in the wet in Hungary a few years ago... 😉


"Can anyone give examples of how Button goes in the wet?"

Hungarian Grand Prix 2006: 14th on the grid, won in style in the rain.

Mr. Brundle wrote about the remarkably smooth driving technique of Mr. Button, after experiencing it as a passenger in his people mover. Smoothness is of course paramount in slippery conditions.


Hungary 2006 is one that really springs to mind. The opening lap of the 2007 European grand prix was also pretty impressive, though unfortunately he ended up aquaplaning off. China 2007 was similarly impressive, finishing fourth, if I remember correctly.


And renault,kubica not, nick yes


If it rains - what price for a good result for Lewis!!


Renult are also using KERS,

Von, i think Nick Heidfeld had a good start as well, with the KERS, he was up to 6th before he got punted out by Webber, who was punted but Rubens, etc.

but what it does show is that (provided you make the first corner, a KERS equipt car can easily jump a good row (perhaps 2) of the line.

ROLL ON SEPANG!!! (loving the back to back season start!!!)


"I think rain will spoil everyone’s party. It will be typical for Hamilton starting in 17th position to come through and lucking into the victory, with him telling everyone what a great drive it was afterwards."

Come on now...we're watching motorsport, luck can benefit anyone at any time. You drive your own race, push hard, keep the car on the road and maximize your opportunities. This endless whining about how Hamilton somehow lucks into victories, lucked into the world title...it's just a broken record spinning.

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