Button-ed up in Brazil

Published on October 21st, 2009

Brazil will from now onwards have a very dear spot in the hearts of Brawn GP as Jenson Button sealed the deal on his first ever Formula One world drivers championship and the team themselves wrapped up their first ever constructors championship in their first season at Interlagos in Sao Paulo.

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Admittedly, things weren’t exactly as bright as the famed Brazilian sun with Button lining up 14th on the grid but a number of the same crisp overtaking maneuvers that saw him win six of the first seven races this season saw him slice through the field. Sao Paulo native and teammate, Rubens Barrichello, coincidently his closest title contender as well, kicked off from P1 but lost the pace after his first stop.

However, the hometown hero did run as high as fourth in the closing laps but a punctured left-front tyre dropped him down to eighth for the finish.

“We are the champions my friends, we are the world champions,” sang Button, out of tune but definitely in great happiness, over the team radio after the checkered flag danced in the air.

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The winner of the race itself was Red Bull’s Mark Webber. The boy from down under took the lead over from Barrichello after the first pit stop window and fended off Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton to earn second Formula One career victory.

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Kubica managed to snatch the bridesmaid tag while Hamilton, last year’s defending champion, completed the podium for the second race running.

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Between the two powerhouses, Brawn and Red Bull have taken 13 of the 16 races so far this season. Button may have won six of the first seven races but the Brit hasn’t finished higher than fifth since his last victory in Turkey.

The final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on November 1 will see Button lining up with an impassable 15-point lead over Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel and 17-points clear of Barrichello.

“Twenty one years ago, I jumped into a car and I loved winning. I never expected to be world champion,” enthused Button at the post-race conference.

Button now holds the honour of being the 31st different driver and the 10th Brit to win a Formula One world championship. Last year saw fellow countryman Hamilton took the world championship from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Speaking of which, Massa is well on his way to recovery having put in some time behind the wheel of a 2007 Ferrari Formula One racer and was on hand to wave the checkered flag for this race for the Brazilian GP.

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“It’s just special. The work the team did over the winter was sensational. All the people who couldn’t be with us, because we had to resize the team after the winter, my thanks go to them,” said Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn.

Indeed, it has been an amazing turnaround for the team this season with as much drama on the track as off it. Before the season even got underway there was uncertainty for the Button and Barrichello after the Honda Racing Team kicked the bucket and left the entire team out in the open. It was the shrewdness and genius of Brawn that not just resurrected the team but made it a mind-blowing powerhouse to win the driver’s and constructor’s championship in their first run.

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Mathematically, Vettel was the only other driver in the running for the championship before the weekend but his flaming hopes of a season ender like last year’s, that saw Hamilton and Massa dogfight for the title only for the former to clinch it by a point in the last race, was doused by a rain-soaked qualifying that saw him line up in 16th.

Nonetheless, some excellent overtaking saw him finish fourth and this young German would surely be a driver to look out for next season with the wealth of experience he has under his belt now.

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Things weren’t all smooth sailing though during the race as right from the get-go saw a chaotic opening lap with Vettel clipping Heikki Kovalainen that sent the Finn careening into Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella. Adrian Sutil, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso followed suit for an early shower as well. Trulli and Sutil got into a heated argument in the aftermath about their collision.

“It was a very dangerous maneuver from Sutil. I think this guy is an idiot. He should look at what happened because it was very dangerous. That’s why I am so angry,” an angry Trulli exclaimed in the pits.

Sutil claimed he was not the cause of the incident, “It’s very strange that he came up to me and blamed me for the incident, because he just crashed into me.”

To sum it all up, this Formula One season has had more drama than off the track than on it but fortunately, and barely so at best, the off-track distractions did little, if any, to diminish the on-track action that has given us one of the most sexciting and exhilarating seasons yet. And all this with one race to spare.

text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: F1

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