F1 Winter Break
Why Button's win today was masterful
Why Button's win today was masterful
Posted By:   |  05 Apr 2009   |  1:40 pm GMT  |  59 comments

It’s a shame that Jenson Button has yet to see the chequered flag at full racing speed at the end of a full race. Both his wins have been terrific, but this one today was really special and you have to pay tribute to the masterful way that the Brawn team, Button and his engineer Andrew Shovlin managed the changing conditions.

Others, like Glock and Heidfeld made greater gains by gambling on wet tyres, and Heidfeld gambled several times with the result that he made only one pit stop compared to Button’s four. But then Glock and Heidfeld had nothing to lose, while Button had everything to lose.

He said afterwards that the car wasn’t very well balanced on wet tyres, so it was a credit to him that he was able to keep his pace up in the wet conditions,
“The conditions we had today, it’s very unusual to drive the full wets in slightly greasy conditions, we had to go for that option because he thought it was going to rain and we were in the lead. It felt pretty terrible, the rear was always trying to break away. But that was more down to the conditions.

“When we put the intermediates on, the car felt pretty good I had a good balance for the car, because it was the right tyre for that condition, until it started bucketing it down and then no tyre was usable.”

So he did his bit. But the team did a brilliant job. If you compare his outcome with Nico Rosberg’s you’ll see what I mean, Rosberg had the early lead and was on a similar strategy to Button, just a couple of laps shorter on the first stop. He had the pace for a podium today. And yet he made stops on laps 27 and 30 and slipped from 2nd to 8th, with the fourth stop from inters to wets, a stop other cars didn’t make. This could have happened to Button, but he had kept the momentum going and at every stage the team stayed calm and did what was required.

Today’s other great revelation is that we got to see just how fast this Brawn car really is, when Jenson had to push hard in his two laps before his first stop, in order to leapfrog Rosberg and Trulli. He did a 1m 36.641, which is a second faster than the next non-Brawn car!!

That is quite some margin they have, greater than we imagined previously and it’s also impressive to note that that lap time was set at the end of a 16 lap stint on soft tyres, so the Brawn can be said to have fantastic tyre management ability.

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I couldn't believe how far Jenson managed to leapfrog Rosberg and Trulli by on the first pitstops, although if I remember correctly his stop was quite a bit faster.

One thing that interested me today was how the strategies played out. For some reason with Jenson having Ross on the pit wall I felt as if they wouldn't make a bad call, in comparison to McLaren for the last couple of years where I've been constantly worried they're going to do something stupid (similar to what Ferrari did today).

I'm slightly worried about Rubens' gearbox problems, it seems to have happened a few too many times to be coincidence, and I would have thought he would have corrected any errors on his part by now.


It was a great race until the rain... shame it ended the way it did. The teams like Ferrari must feel some relief with Jenson only getting 5 points instead of 10.

Great twitter updates during race by the way!



Your oven fresh articles are a delight. However today's race was thoroughly UNsatisfying due to poor organisation, and it could have been a classic instead.

If the race had been run at 2pm, or brought forward an hour or two, as most Teams and pundits advised, it would have been a terrific event.

The threat of rain at the climax would have been very dramatic.

But Mr. Ecclestone had contracted with the TV companies a 5pm start, and business is business. Who cares about the racing.

Teams get half points, what about a refund for the poor wet Malaysian spectators? Will they return next year?

The reduced points awarded in this event could be crucial in deciding the WDC.
Recall Msr. Prost losing the driver's championship to Mr. Lauda in 1984 by a mere half a point.


Jenson was great in the wet today but from what you have written you would probably agree with me that he won the race during the dry part today. To get such a bad start and then come back to pass 2 cars on the track and another while it was in the pits and then still build up enough of a lead to allow him to come out in front after all the pit stops was a truly amazing feat.

This season will be the making of Jenson Button, for years I have been telling anyone who will listen he is as good as the best of them, but nobody would listen. I don't think I will need to tell people much more.


His win today reminded me of a Ross Brawn engineered Schumacher win... Jenson has a real shot at the title this year, and I think Brawn sees Jenson as the number 1 in the team.


"...I felt as if they wouldn’t make a bad call"

At the time they put intermediates on the Brawn I was stunned, why not full wets, I thought, and sure enough minutes later... another pit stop for full wets.

They got away with it, just, but they know they chose the wrong tyre.


As Bernie would say, Lewis Schmewis.
Jenson wins again - hurrah!

Thanks for the posts James - the perfect accompaniment to the weekend as ever.


Wasn't the wrong call at all: if you're leading, by mirroring what your closest competitors are doing then you're going to maintain your lead! The only time you need to risk doing something different is when youre behind.


I think Jens Button is gonna take this championship by mid europe depending he collects first and podium finishes by then(which he will)
the worrying thing about this is , there's only one man seems to be fighting for the championship
I dont think trulli rosberg glock vettel have the class to challenge button on such a fast car he is driving on this moment..its not as same as being kimi , alonso or lh and massa vs Lh battles which we saw last two years

Ferrari and mclaren wont catch up with leaders,mcs made a bad car in 06 they dint improve all throughout the season
similar thing happened for ferrari f2005 .. the car didnt had pace
here we are talking about making up half a sec or more on the rival its really diifcult..

bgp01 car is similar to f2004 i rem how boring that season was..
frankly once the newness of these ugly cars fades no 1 would be watching the championship
overtaking hasnt really improved its the same as last two three years
i thank button for his sheer perseverance for one struggling team he certainly deserves to be the champion
now things have come good...


Strange race, but Button's in-laps were awsome - really showing what can be done with that car

Gutted they only got half points today, as i think this could be a major factor when the big teams come on song

Old Mark Webber made me laugh, running around canvassing - a side of a F1 driver we don't normally see - he really is a top bloke and i really hopes he gets some good luck and wins a race soon

Gutted for Nico, as it was a total gamble - he'll get his first victory this year!

Finally - what a great service which Twitter provides - i swore not to sign up to another 'social networing' site, but i signed up during the Melbourne Grand Prix F1, and i'm glad i did now

James - your a genius in being able to provide us anoraks with the juicy inside info and keeping us up to date!

Bring on Shanghai!


It was a very good composed win by Jenson today. Those two laps he put in while Jarno and Nico were in the pits were masterful. You could see that he was cleverly saving his tyres in the opening stint once he realised that he could not get past on the road. Very well done indeed.

Martin Brundle always says "be on the right tyres at the right time" and its amazing how many teams just don't do this. Even Jenson switched to inters for one or two laps because it was apparent that it was the right tyre to be on at the time. Kimi going to full wets when there wasn't any rain on the track...he lost a whole pitstop on his first lap out. Shocking.

Well done also to Heidfeld who, craftily as ever, sneaked a podium.

James I enjoy your twitter feed a lot and is the reason why I chose to watch the race on the internet on my PC rather than the TV.


We had half of a really good race today. Unfortunately the second half and then some was spent looking at people getting thoroughly soaked for no good reason. The FIA have to give the teams ten minutes warning of a re-start so why wait until ten minutes from the end of the two hour time limit to announce the race is over? They surely didn't want a second race with a staged finish where they could pull in the safety car and have one corner under green where no-one can overtake till the finish line. There was no point re-starting unless we were guaranteed at least ten laps to take us over the 75% full points distance. That would have taken at least 20 minutes starting under a safety car. The race over announcement should have been made half an hour earlier than it was but I guess TV stations would have lost audiences for their TV ads so we had half an hour of nothing.

Of course none of what happened was a surprise. Like many others since the start time was announced I have plastered the net with predictions of rain stopping the race and the race being unable to be re-started due to rain/bad light. Unfortunately it seems like the powers that be are more interested in generating headlines and news coverage than good racing. I assume this generates extra income for CVC as all the news outlets will purchase footage and pictures. The decision to schedule the race to start at that time was not rational.

We are constantly told that F1 is all about technology. SO why do the FIA have to send someone out in a monsoon with a sheet of paper to shuffle the grid? That doesn't seem to be terribly high-tech or particularly efficient. Maybe Charlie Whiting's radio shyness from Melbourne has carried over to not talking to anyone on the radio. If only he had dealt with the repeated requests from McLaren and Toyota for clarification of who should have been third none of the other nonsense would have happened.

It is time F1 was run in a professional manner.


I have noticed that I cannot relax after a race has finished. As if I am constantly holding my breath. This is because I am never sure if the end result is the end result. Ever since Spa-gate and last week's events (oh and many others over the years) I am obsessively returning to my lap top to check the latest news, to find out who has been penalised and for what and what is the new result! This is madness. I expect I won't be able to relax until the whole diffuser saga has been closed. Very interesting James on your comments regarding Ross and another party's warning on subsequent rebuttal of Ross's recommendations, lets hope this is taken into consideration at the hearing.

Anyhoo, another fantastic result for Button and I am in F1 heaven. Ross, Jenson and the team are a great combination. It will be interesting to see if they are able to maximise their strategies when they are up against stiffer competition later in the season, if that competition ever gets round to presenting itself!


I seriously doubt that Honda would have made the decisions made in this race under Fry. Brawn has been great for morale, technology and for strategy. As much as Flavio attempts to discredit his accomplishments and make snide remarks BrawnGP speaks on the track.


Great win by Button. Before the season, I spent a lot of time on forums and blogs insisting that Jenson would beat Reubens - the 2008 season had suggested otherwise and a lot of fans have short memories - but Button has always performed extremely well in competetive cars.

In Malaysia today Jenson's bad start meant he ended up just a few tenths ahead of his teammate after the first lap. By the end of the race, he was 47 seconds ahead. I'm not saying Reubens is a bad driver, but I really do expect Jenson to be faster all season - roughly the same amount as Schumacher was ahead of Reubens - deduce from that what you will...


Imagine if Alonso would of went to Honda when the offer from Ross Brawn was on the table. Must be on his mind.

Nice to see Button get a few more wins behind his name. After being written off by so many people, this must be very redeeming.


I don't think we have heard the end of this. I just re-watched the race and it seems that there were a number of drivers in pit lane while Button passed to complete the last few laps. I could swear Webber was in third place.. we will have to wait and see.


He had the better car by miles. This is the first time ever that I saw a driver, who hat no chance of *not* winning it. I'm pretty sure that Brawn and his Honda's are sandbagging *BIG TIME*, if they needed to they could go a second faster than anyone else - they just got it by default.

Ross is my hero, but Jenson isn't no Schumacher. once the other catch up, he'll be trounced right to effing hell, and about rubens, we don't even need to talk about, we went past his best about 2 decades ago.


Button's quick recovery from a dodgy start impressed me most - he was decisive in seeing off Raikkonen and Alonso on lap 1. This let him run at his own pace, while Barrichello and the Red Bulls got stuck behind those two for ages.


Keep up the tweets - even when reviewed after the race rather than real time, they add a lot


Just for my own sanity and peace of mind, can you clear up the red flag race suspension rule regarding the two-hour time limit?

If you go back to Europe 2007, the red flag race suspension time did not count towards the two hours, resulting in a winning time of 2:06:26.358 (check Bernie's site).

Now obviously today it was academic as it was really dark when Button got to the podium. But if the race was an hour earlier I believe that it should have been restarted with a maximum of 65 minutes still to run (or the remaining laps, which would have come first).

Unless this rule has changed between the two events I'm referring to, but I'm not sure it has, looking at regulation 5.3 of the sporting regulations that states the suspension period will be added to the two hour time period.

I'm just surprised (and a touch frustrated) that few people seemed to pick up on this.


So Button is the new hero, or shall I say the hero every one always wanted him to be, the funny thing is no one seems to be concerned of the facts he's possibly driving an illegal car, imagine Lewis driving a car with a controversial diffuser, every one will be screaming foul play.
I've got nothing against Jenson, however what he's achieving now could easily be repeated even by Sebastian Buemi.
Jenson and the Brawn are not on a same level playing field with the rest of f1 teams, to put it bluntly it is the equivalent of an athlete on steroids, and that's called cheating.


James twitter feed was great during race - thank you. Do you agree:

(a)Article 5.3 - race could have exceeded 2 hours due to the fact the race was suspended and this rule states the period of suspension should be added to the two hour maximum (ie whilst the race clock does not stop the 2 hour maximum is extended)?

(b)Article 43.2 - when a race is suspended and not restarted the leaders last crossing of the start finish line determines final positions. Jenson pitted and in doing so crossed the finish line (in the pits). P2 Heidfeld P3 Glock. However Jenson exited the pits and prior to the SC Glock passed Hiedfeld. Jenson then completed a full lap. He crossed the finsh line (again) and shortly after that the race was red flagged. As such surely the altered final positions were wrong. Therefore Lewis was P5?


Colin, I agree with your comments about the starting time and Bernie, It was madness to start this race at 5pm - blind Freddie knew it could/would turn out with half a race. The capacity of Bernie and Max to turn a problem into a disaster is surely now legendary.

I'm sure too that all the faffing about in the final 50 minutes was merely to convince the telly audience and buyers that something may happen. I reckon that there was NEVER any chance that the race would start again. This is dishonesty on a McLaren scale ...

I watched the race on French television. At no time had they any input or information of any kind from the stewards - the only info they gleaned was by listening in to the team radios. Seriously amateur, in the worst sense of the term. This really is no way to run a railroad.


Love the coverage on Twitter ! Keep up the great work !
Very interesting start to this year. I am impressed the the closer racing. So far a lot of fun to watch.


Sure Danilo, they're sandbagging it by having Rubens battle for lower positions rather than turning on the speed and getting up to the front with his teammate (yes, he came in second in Melbourne but only because of the Vettel/Kubica incident). I'm sure Barrichello would go for holding back instead of trying to win... 😉


Mr. Allen wrote for ITV:
"At this time the race was quite finely balanced, as rain was due to fall, but had not come by the time Button stopped. So he had no choice but to put another set of dry tyres on."

Oh come now Sir! "No choice"? My jaw dropped when they chose the intermediates. They only needed to look UP and see that it was going to bucket down in a minute or so. By choosing the wrong tyre, they took more of a "gamble", and the extra pit-stop, to reverse the blunder, almost cost them the win.

Indeed, in his post-race comments Mr. Brawn admitted he could have made far better choices in their pit stop strategy.


Well the first two races haven't been impressive in my view.
- How can Bernie and the Malaysian organisers schedule the race during the moonsoon falls? Even thousands of miles away, people know that this time of year and at twighlight that's when the rain hits. I can see Bernie thinking it's all perfectly good, TV viewers watched and people bought tickets but ub reality the fans got to see a lousy, mediocre, unenthralling, unengaging half race. Bernie has to be the biggest greed-bucket in the history of mankind. He lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and makes love to money. The race was COMPLETELY unacceptable.
- The overtaking is down to the non-KERS cars having better handling, and the KERS cars having a straight line boost. I'm not interested in watching Super Mario Kart as the world's premier motorsport category.
- The cars look amazingly underwhelmingly unimpressive. Are we honestly expected to believe that the finest racing cars in the world have a front wing that obscenely large and with no curvature detail? It's simply a flat and oversized knob sticking out.
- The three best drivers in the world (Massa, Hamilton, Alonso) are in midfield cars. Why is the world championship fought between Button and Barrichello rather than Button vs an elite class driver. Button's first two wins have been fairly impressive, but whose he fought against? Reminds me of Schumacher's era when Ralf, Rubens, and DC were his "rivals". Oh wait strike Rubens off, he was paid to lose or else pull over..

Anybody else extremely unhappy with F1 at the moment?

Antonio Carlos

I am happy because Brawns had a better pace, compared what we saw in Melbourne.

If we verify FIA'S PDF'S after the race, Button got 8 laps below 1.38.000, and Rubens 10 laps.

Trulli got 8 laps, Rosberg reached 6 laps, and Webber 2 laps.

The rest of the pack could manage only above 1.38.500.

Ferraris are about 1s slower, McLarens 2s, Renaults about 2,5s, and Bmw's Heidfeld about 2s, but I think Nick was too much careful... And all of them using KERS.

The scenario for that "Top 4" aren't very shining. By experience, is very difficult to decrease that gap, even with new diffusers, I believe that cars are simply slow and unresponsive.

Greetings from Brazil.


I hope all you softies in Europe enjoyed your beauty sleep that was in exchange for a complete race.


JA writes: Antonio, don't forget that the race was rain affected so the fastest laps will be from the early phase and the Ferraris and McLarens were carrying much more fuel than the Brawns at that point. So you can't really make a comparison with them, although you certainly can with Toyota, Williams, RBR etc and on that measure the Brawn has more in its pocket than we thought.


I'm pleased for Brawn, always liked the guy, but I think it's pushing the boat out a bit to call Jenson's drive "Masterful".

A masterful driver, to me is a driver that can wring the last bit out of a under performing car, like Alonso and Lewis. It's clear that any of those driver's up there could be do the same job as button, because the car is so far ahead of the rest. Jenson has not pulled his weight for years, so I don't rate him much, fast car or not.


just logging on to say nice work bernie. great idea. idiot.


James, what do you think about the Ferrari pace?

Kimi was 5th at the start and was doing quite well in a car that obviously not completly suited to him yet. Would you agree with me saying at the end of the season Ferrari will be mid table (point wise).

I need to see the start again, I missed Rosberg and Alonso (I was watching Kimi) Also missed Glocks poor start. I saw Button's oversteer moment though.

What do you think of Kovalinen's mistake, was it a mistake. Could McLaren have built a car more suited to Lewis.

Antonio Carlos

Wow, James Allen himself replied to me!! Thanks for reply.

You're right, I really forgot the question of fuel weight.

And, in addition, the extra weight generated by KERS... We should do more accurate comparisions... But I'm not an engineer... 😉

Antonio Carlos

Sure it is, Guy. But was an unique honour 😉

I hope China there will be a "normal" race. In Melbourne there was safety cars on track, including last lap, and Sepang, that ridiculous end.

Then we can do more accurate data to better comparisions...

Andrew McKendry

There is no extra weight of KERS - all the cars are the same weight. It's the distribution of weight that changes.


It must have been a proud moment when your hero told you the analysis you spent hours sweating over was completely wrong!! He he. Only kidding.


Not so Sir! Kindly read my previous comments, and you will see they refer to the pit stop Mr. Allen wrote about, as quoted above.

The Brawn Team made an error on tyre choice, as was proven by their need to pit a mere lap later to reverse the blunder. (As Mr. Brawn has subsequently admitted.)

It was indeed obvious at the time that the Monsoon was going to burst and stop the race. Putting intermediates on was a huge gamble, and it almost cost them the win; wets was the obvious and best choice.


Jenson no Schumy? That was Eddie Jordan's view on the Beeb in Oz and DC disagreed with him pretty sharply. DC's view seemed to be that Jenson is in fact a fantastic driver. I think that anyone who has watched him blow away his team-mates over the years and taken into account the quality of the cars he has driven should have came to that conclusion as well.
I get the feeling that the combination of an ace driver and a top car is often more devastating than logic suggests, i.e. more than the sum of the parts. Could that explain Schumy's domination driving Ross Brawn's cars.
Will the Button/Brawn combo be equally dominant?

Stephen Kellett

This is the first time ever that I saw a driver, who hat no chance of *not* winning it.

I'l have to assume you didn't watch F1, 2004.

You don't give your hero, Ross, much respect with your comments about his driver selection.


By this logic you could just as easily say that Michael Schumacher "had no chance of * not * winning" on several occasions.

A lot of people have the same opinion that Brawn GP are sandbagging massively, if so, how can you be so sure that the other teams will ever catch up enough to trounce Button?

Anyway, only time will tell, and I'm really looking forward to it!


Hmm. Reminds me when he switched the dates for Silverstone! 🙂


Well, your point to the above quote is completely invalid as James is referring to the first pitstop before any rain hit, and so yes, they had to put dries on again - well all except the madness of Kimi!

Also, I don't understand why you have to keep harping on about Button sticking intermediates on and having to change back to wets a couple of laps later. It really is a moot point when all's said and done. Yeah, considering the heavy rain a few minutes later, full wets would have been most appropriate, but 1. at the time the conditions required intermediates (Glock up to 10s/lap faster), and 2. when you're front running you should always match your opponents and not take unneccesary risks. Yes of course it was almost certain to belt it down with rain at some point, but you couldn't know exactly when. After all it stayed damp for 15 mins or so which no one expected; again least of all Ferrari!

So, I don't think it could be regarded as a complete faux par to opt for intermediates at the point of the pit-stop.



Here's Mr. Ecclestone's response to the above point, put to him by many others:

"I don't see anything wrong with the start time, we just didn't know about the rain. If we had started at 2pm then it would have rained as well."

He "didn't know about the rain"... despite numerous warnings what happens in the afternoons during the Monsoon.

He believes if they'd begun at 2pm the deluge would have hopped forward an hour just to spite him.

In fact a 2pm start would have been perfect for the race, and for the fans.


There was no chance of a re-start at all, save to trickle round in line behind the SC to knock of the handful of laps to make the full points hall count.

That would, of course, only serve to prove your point.


"Anybody else extremely unhappy with F1 at the moment?"

Read this thread:


and you will see that we very much are


@krad: That was true much earlier on the race, but as was plain at the time, the Brawn would have been better shod on wets, and saved the embarrassing extra pit-stop, only minutes after their blunder.


Have to disagree George, by opting for wets at that late stage, when the deluge was obviously imminent, they took more of a risk.


In agreement with George on this one. As Martin quoted Senna in the BBC coverage today "you've got to be on the right tyres for the conditions"

Had Jenson put on a set of full wets, he would have shredded them and it would have been impossible for him to stay on the track. It was the right call for Jenson.


@matt h: Not hindsight Sir, at the time of Mr. Button's stop it was indeed obvious, and I was shocked THEN that they chose the wrong tyre. Red face for Mr. Brawn.

Ferrari chose wrong much earlier, by the time the Brawn stopped, it was no gamble to switch to wets.


rubbish, its only obvious in hindsight! It appeared 'obvious' that it was going to pour down earlier - but it didnt, hence everyone had to come back in for inters

Stephen Kellett

overtaking hasnt really improved its the same as last two three years

You did watch the race today?


I believe the reason Charlie had left the decision so late was due to the fact they had to work out everyone's position to the last complete lap before the red flag. Considering the pit lane was like a drive-thru take away service, that probably took some time to make sure everyone's position was correct. The last thing we need is more court hearings.

I'm not sure what the chap with the clipboard was doing, unless he was taking a safer bet by communicating on the track instead of running the risk of lightning cutting the comms off.


also it was far riskier to put on the full wets. Others that had done so were loosing best part of 15s a lap. At that rate you onlt have to do 2 laps to be gaining over all


It was the right call to make at the time, they had the luxury of playing it safe because everyone around them had made the same decision.

Good call on the rain by the way Colin, got it pretty much spot on 🙂


It was no risk to put wets on when it was obviously going to bucket-down in minutes. It WAS obvious, and so it proved. They would have made a comfortable margin instead of cutting it fine. Tactical mistake.


"Great twitter updates during race by the way!"

Yes, I follow them intently alongside the Live Timing screen, perhaps Ferrari should too. It would've spared their blushes today.

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