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Button getting worried as Brawn take wrong direction
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Button getting worried as Brawn take wrong direction
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Jul 2009   |  8:50 am GMT  |  34 comments

Jenson Button has seen his championship lead diminish badly in the last three races. He has scored six points since Turkey, while Mark Webber has scored 24 and Sebastian Vettel 18. At four points per race, as he lost here in Budapest, he will lose the title lead by Japan.

Brawn had a third bad result in a row on a track where everyone thought they should have re-established themselves. Hungary was everyone’s idea of a strong Brawn track and if you throw in the heat, and the updated technical package, it is deeply worrying for them that they could not convert it all into a strong run. Button had no pace for most of the race and he reported terrible problems with rear graining on both types of tyre. He set only the sixth fastest race lap.

The high temperature was not the silver bullet they were looking for. It’s a tense time for Brawn, with McLaren, Ferrari and Williams looking faster. They seem to have taken a wrong turn on development somewhere along the line and it’s stopped the tyres working.

“I don’t know what it is but I don’t think we can blame the weather,” he said on Sunday night. We have got to be looking in other areas than that.”

“We have had two different updates on the car but they shouldn’t unbalance the car in any way,” Button said. “You can say that the other teams have improved their cars for sure. The Red Bull is a lot quicker and obviously McLaren, Ferrari and Williams have stepped up their game. But our car is not what it was to drive a few races ago.

“It’s not that we’ve got the same paced car and everyone has overtaken us. Our car is not driving as it has done from the start of the season so there is obviously an issue, but the good thing is there is a break before the next race for us to try and solve it.”

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Could this have something to do with brawns current predicament :


Well whether or not they took a wrong turn in development, it’s clear that Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have greater resources and as such the gap in performance between them and Brawn is just about closed.


A couple of things;

Firstly, does anyone else find it highly amusing that some bookies have already paid out to punters who bet on Jenson winning the WDC?

Secondly, why have Brawn escaped punishment for a spring detaching from their car and nearly killing someone while Renault have been banned for one race after a wheel detached? Is it because the wheel detachment was avoidable? (Ie. Alonso should have pulled over?).


The second the car is not to Jenson’s liking and he chokes.

For shame


I think Brawn have run out of Honda money and development or lack of it is proof. Soon or later the natural pecking order will be back in F1. This was a very odd year and early on everyone was calling Ross a genious. As great as he is, he is only 1 man it takes a team of hundreds as well as funds in the hundreds of millions to be and stay successful. I doubt his will be the end for Brawn this year… but it won’t be a cake walk that everyone predicted at the start of the season. In 2010, I bet Brawn are once again back markers or middle of the pack at best.


Even if Brawn take off all the new bits and return to Melbourne configuration I doubt they’re suddenly going to be fastest again. Brawn may not understand what the updates they’ve put on have done but Red Bull, Mclaren, Ferrari and others have certainly made steady, logical, methodic, and occasionally massive improvements to their cars since Melbourne.

But at least if they did then Brawn might be fighting for podiums again, and not 6ths and 7ths.

If I was being harsh I’d say this is just Brawn being shown up to an extent. They didn’t do anything magical over the winter and made no quantum leap, but just spent considerably more time than anyone else working on the ’09 regs. Now that the playing field has re-levelled itself with the others catching up, Brawn are basically returned to the status of what Honda were i.e. not that impressive as a team over the course of a season.

To be fair, they probably wouldn’t claim anything majorly different had occurred, and to be fair they don’t have the resources the other teams have.

And, heck, I may be wrong and they turn it back around – but at the moment they’re relying more on Mclaren and Ferrari to slow Red Bull’s advance than their own cars.

Still, it’s making for a much more interesting season than it looked after 7 races.


To be fair to Brawn, they compromised their qualifying position by holding back Jensen to confirm that the spring on his car was secure after the incident with Ruben’s car. Being a couple of slots further up the grid could have made a big difference to the race.

The car is obviously not performing as well as it did in Turkey, but I’m not ready to write them off yet. Stripping back to the Turkish GP build then adding the updates looking for where the problems are sounds like a good plan though.


Everything seems to have gone wrong since Jenson abandoned his fluorescent yellow helmet – he had a special helmet for Silverstone but did not revert to the original for Nurburgring or Hungary (black top as opposed to yellow top). Step 1 should be to get back into his original helmet.

Seriously, though, I think there are two main possibilities:

(i) having had problems getting the tyres up to temperature in Silverstone and Nurburgring (because of the cold), they overcompensated on set-up in Hungary and destroyed the tyres because they were artificially being overworked – I think Jenson’s best times in Hungary were on his last stint on the soft (not super-soft tyres).

(ii) there was some mention at the beginning of the season that the rear suspension of the Brawn was bottoming out because they hadn’t had time to properly adjust for the Mercedes engine – maybe whatever they’ve done to attempt to cure this has had an adverse effect?


James (or perhaps administrator)

I’ve been reading the site since before testing this year and one of the features that I enjoy most is your ‘how the race will unfold piece’. It came to mind recently that I don’t recall ever seeing a preseason picks piece from you. Now we’re at the midpoint of the season and there’s less going on, would you care to go out on a limb and make some predictions as to how you see the second half of the season unfolding, perhaps go as far as to say how you think the top 3 will look at season’s end.

I’d also be interesting in seeing a podium prediction from you for each race and it would be great to keep a running tally of how you do as the season progresses.

It’s a great site and source of information regardless but I’d love to see your knowledge put to the test.


El Shish, I picked Brawn after I saw them at the Barcelona test! I’ll take a look at that. Thanks for the suggestion.


Surely even if Jenson manages to somehow win the WDC, he would surely be best of doing an Alonso in 06 and bolting from the team for a bigger manufacturer based team, as Brawn GP have shown that they either dont have the financial or technical ability to keep up with the devlopment pace. Also Jensons stock will never in his career be as high as it is now, so he may be better to move on, even if it meant moving to Renault to replace alonso, as these last two seasons they have shown that they can devlop a car in season.

So what do you think Mr Allen will Jenson seriously be contemplating his future as im sure he would like to challenge for the WDC for morethan one season.


Hm. Has there been a personnel change somewhere? Some stranger came in and designed the brilliant start of season car back in 2008. Now that person has left and they’ve gone back to the form of the last 2 years being unable to improve, or even understand their car.

I hope they work out what’s wrong. It would be a shame if it all just fizzled away although having said that I’d ideally like to see Button’s lead cut and then have a very close end to the season.


Looks like some straight line testing will be in order for the BrawnGP team before Valencia…


From memory Brawn didn’t actually update anything at Silverstone, due to the temperature as they wouldn’t get any reliable data back. So they stuck it all on in Germany. This means that there were still issues with tyre temp prior to these updates. Perhaps too much was bolted on the car in Germany for any proper analysis of what each part is doing (though as I’m not an F1 engineer I wouldn’t know how to conduct such analysis anyway!)?

Additionally the lack of in season testing means there is no longer a baseline for a team to refer back to. In previous seasons they would rack up mile after mile at places like Jerez or Barcelona, but with each track being different they don’t get this anymore, meaning improving the cars is turning more into an art rather than science.


Couple of things reading the replies here.

‘Monster of a car’ was that not more of an advertising plug, because did JB not just the next race a new sponsor, the big green M on his skid lid. See website.

Lack of testing? How much on track testing did Brawn GP have before the start of this season, from memory it was only a few days. So lack of testing is obviously an issue but not that big a one. How come McLaren can make great leaps without testing.

The bottom line is the rest of the teams are accelerating faster at development and Brawn are being caught, the window for improvement is getting smaller, and come the end of the season all teams will have found the best they can out of the regulations.

When you see the Quali session you can spoy there where Brawn are in comparison to earlier in the season. If Rubinho and JB get to the front of the grid they will start to rack up the points again. Both drivers do not handle traffic that well.


It’s a quite simple formula to explain this, no money = no updates.

From now on all teams will be enjoying there updated rear deffusers and front/back wings, let’s see who takes more advantage of this situation.

Next GP will favour mechanical downforce once again and i think Brawn will be back on form.


It’s crazy that the BMW was pushing the Red Bull like hell in Australia and that Jenson completely dominated that race!


This was bound to happen – Honda spent a serious amount of money on R&D on this Brawn car… to keep the car competitive Brawn GP would have needed the vast resources Honda had. Brawn GP were lucky to get this far into the season with the Honda car – which is a tribute to the brillance of Honda’s F1 Team – put I guess Honda’s slogan – The Power of Dream’s comes into play here… the Dream had to end sometime!


I might be being naive here but why don’t Brawn just re-wind and take off all the changes they have added to the “Monster of a car” they had in Turkey and see if that cures the problems they are experiencing now ? It seems a little more than just weather /temperature conditions that is wrong with their cars.

Also is there a rule stopping Jensen jumping across into Rubens’ car on Friday or visa versa?

Can they not set up the two cars identically on a Friday with the Turkey Car as the baseline then add each upgrade onto one car and get Jenson or Rubens to hop back and forth into each car & back to back /parallel test them to see if the updates are actually improving things or making them worse ?


It looks like with in season testing banned everyone just sticks the new updates into the car and hopes it goes better. So it could very well be that removing some of the recent “updates” from BrawnGP car can make it fast(est) again.

In my opinion the testing ban is one of the worst decisions in this season as big teams spend enormous amounts of resources to somehow test the updates and still get results that are comparable to tossing a coin. At the same time there is problem with new and test drivers who are either rusty from lack of testing or simply too inexperienced to race.

I would recommend making fridays a real test session with up to 3 drivers from each team allowed to test all day long. This would be less expensive than former testing (as most of the needed equipment is already in place) but would still allow teams to develop their cars instead of using expensive wind tunnel data.


I agree. I’d say ditch the suspension updates, keep the aero updates and try that.

JA did well on Sunday for someone so unused to the physical demands.

Definitely should reintroduce some (non-stright line) testing during the season. Trying your updates at each is rubbish.


Nobody expected Brawn to win the Championship, but you have to say their drop-off in competitiveness is totally demoralising for Button fans. Even someone as smooth behind the wheel as Button is having trouble preserving tyres…then obviously something is very wrong with the new suspension updates Brawn added after Istanbul. The only circuit coming up that probably won’t grain tyres is Monza. Spa, Valencia, Singapore, Suzuka, Abu Dhabi, and maybe even the anti-clockwise Interlagos will all grain tyres severely, and that’s going to be a problem for Button – and for Vettel who is renowned for overcooking tyres. With this in mind then, things look very good for Webber you must say, although I guess he is due a retirement soon, seeing as his team mate has had 4 already.


Vettel’s retirements have all been collision related. The Red Bull has had reliability issues in practice but not in the races.


How likely is it that Brawn will strip off the new parts and go back to Turkey-spec, do you think?


What does he mean that there is a break that gives them time to try and solve it.

It’s a break in which the teams are supposed to … well … take a break. As in, close the place down.


The teams have to shut down for 2 weeks but they will then have the other 2 weeks before Valencia to continue development.


Ah indeed. I thought there were only 3 weeks in between.


James, do you feel that their car is going backwards? If so, shouldn’t they just take off all the new bits and try the old car?

I sort of feel that if the Brawn were more driveable then JB would get the best out of it as I am sure that he tends to struggle with a poor car.


@ Monk

Everyone else has improved to such a degree that if Brawn did that they might end up at the back of the grid


The lack of testing could be Jensons downfall, even if they think they have found the problem they won’t know for sure till Friday at Valencia. They went to Budapest ‘knowing’ it would be back to winning ways and they were wrong…


Hi James,

Is there information published anywhere giving the number of Engines used by each team to date? From memory I’m sure that both Webber and Vettel (as Well as Kimi) have had engine failures, whilst Button has not had any. Is it fair to say that we will see some grid penalties for the top teams by the end of the season?


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