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Button back on song in title chase

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Andrew Benson | 17:11 UK time, Sunday, 13 September 2009

Jenson Button might have seen his team-mate Rubens Barrichello chip another two points out of his championship lead at the Italian Grand Prix but the Englishman was not feigning his delight in the post-race interviews.

Monza was a breakthrough race for Button. Such was the lead that he built up in winning six of the season's first seven races that it would be wrong to say his title challenge was ever really going off the rails, but his second place behind Barrichello on Sunday certainly appeared to be something of a new beginning.

The result ended a slump that had seen Button fail to finish on the podium for five consecutive races. And while some of that stuttering was certainly down to the Brawn car, there was no doubt that its driver seemed to have gone off the boil as well.

Italy was Brawn's first one-two since Monaco in May, but Barrichello won as recently as the European Grand Prix in late August, a race Button finished down in seventh place after a very messy weekend. Similarly, while neither Brawn driver scored well in Belgium two weeks ago, Barrichello qualified fourth while his team-mate was 10 places further back on the grid.

That result in Belgium appears to have been a bit of a watershed for Button. He had appeared a man struggling to cope under pressure at Spa, but observers say he has been almost like a different person in Italy.

His differing moods at the start of the two weekends in Belgium and Italy are an example of that.

In Spa, a tense Button had a row with British newspaper journalists when they questioned him on what was causing his poor form. In Monza on Thursday, by contrast, Button talked about how he was looking at the final five races of the season as a mini championship into which he was heading with a 16-point advantage.

It is easy to read too much into these things - Button insists that he has been driving in the same way throughout the season - but whatever it was, something clicked at Monza. He was on the pace throughout the weekend, more comfortable in the car than he had been for some time, and he looked a potential winner for the first time since Turkey in June.

In the end, that win didn't happen but the two Brawn drivers were neck-and-neck throughout the grand prix and the result, with a bit of luck, could easily have gone either way.

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Not only that, but Brawn's title rivals Red Bull had another poor race, with Sebastian Vettel inheriting a single point for eighth place following Lewis Hamilton's last-lap crash and Mark Webber failing to score after a first-lap retirement. So the title battle is now effectively an in-house fight between Button and Barrichello.

"It's a great day," Button said. "I was a long way in front of Vettel, who got a point because he finished eighth after Lewis crashed. Rubens closed on me by two points but I've still got a 14-point lead. I would much rather have won the race but I'm happy.

"I have a very tough team-mate. He's competitive and he's shown it for the last few races. It's going to be a tough challenge but I'm looking forward to it."

It might sound strange for a driver to describe finishing second to his team-mate in a straight fight as a "great day", but Button clearly has the big picture on his mind - and it appears in sharper focus than it has for some time.

Barrichello headed into the race at Monza needing to take an average of slightly more than three points out of Button's lead every grand prix to win the title - and he only managed two.

Even if the momentum is clearly with the Brazilian, Button must fancy his chances of being able to defend a 14-point lead over a man in the same car over the next four grands prix. And he will be helped in that task by the fact that there are other drivers who seem capable of taking points off either or both of them.

As Barrichello said after his victory, none of the remaining races should hold major problems for Brawn or Button. On paper, only Japan is likely to be a race they cannot win. And Red Bull's expected pace there is far less of a problem after their problems in Monza.

As long as Button can hold on to his recovered form, then, winning that world title suddenly looks a whole lot easier as he leaves Italy than it did when he arrived.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Something that still hasn't really been mentioned yet, in regards to Button's hopes of holding off Barrichello, is that Rubens had won at Monza twice before. He was more experienced on the track and was always likely to threaten if his confidence was high enough, so losing to him on a track he knows well isn't too dispiriting. I think Button will take more from this than Rubens, although it's still far from over. Button just has to keep his head and hope he has a bit of luck on his side as well, and he should see it through. If he doesn't, he can at least take solace in his teammate pipping him to the post instead, as I don't think anybody on the grid has anything bad to say about Rubens.

    Here's hoping Button gets clear of Rubens in Singapore and Japan, as in this form I expect Barrichello to win in Brazil.

  • Comment number 2.

    Button is in the driving seat, even if Rubens wins every race and Jenson finishes 2nd in them all then Jenson will win the DWC. Now I know some people will say, well what if Jenson doesn't finish 2nd in them all... the obvious reply is well what if Rubens doesn't win them all.

    Both Brawn drivers drove a brilliant race today and have been within inches of each other all weekend. So Rubens won, I am really happy for him as it seems Jenson is and why shouldn't he be?

    a) He still leads the DWC by 14 points (a higher score on aggregate than he had coming into the race due to there being one less race left).

    b) His car performed peerlessly (in fact both Brawns did) as they have pretty much all season. He doesn't have reliability niggles, unlike his 2 closest rivals Vettel with engine worries and Rubens with the gear box he needs for the next 2 races (I found it quite telling that his engineer told Ted that he was praying for 52 laps that the GB would hold out).

    C) He was able to hold off a hard charging Lewis and it could be said he forced Lewis to make a mistake (all the time keeping Rubens in touch).

    D) He knows that for the run in of the season there are half a dozen drivers who will be challenging for wins, so if he can get ahead of Rubens there is a good possibility that his points lead will grow! (Please remember that like interest rates his lead can up as well as down).

    and probably more than anything else, he and Rubens are friends off track as well as competitors on track. He knows that Ross is FAR LESS likely to be giving team orders now, Brawn have almost sown up the CWC its going to take Red Bull doing very well as well as Brawn failing to score points in order for that to change and that just doesn't look that likely.

    There is no bad blood between Rubens and Jenson, both drivers have built reputations as being Gentlemen and I don't see this changing.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great day for Jenson. I just can't see Barrichello having the nerve and consistency to go through the final four races without making a few mistakes - he's never been a genuinely world class racer under pressure - plus now that Jenson's mood has seemingly relaxed I think his greater natural driving skills will come to the fore again.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Barrichello's win in Monza today just proves that Button is an average driver.

    Schumacher used to whip the butt of Barrichello most of the time. Button can't even beat Barrichello in his OAP years.

    Shame that none of the drivers this year deserve the WDC.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Typically biast!

    Barichello wins the race but the spotlight is on an Englishman.

    Well done Rubens!

  • Comment number 8.

    Steve_WR, apart from upsetting the moderators you are completely wrong.

    schumacher rarely,if ever, whipped Rubens butt. He simply cried to Todt and co that his toys would be thrown out of his pram unless Barrichello was ordered to slow down or move over.

    I guess that Barrichello would consider second in the WDC to Button as a far greater achievement than any of his other results. And Button could rightly consider himself as a better driver than schumacher - as he would have beaten the same team mate fairly and squarely.

    As for deserving the championship it looks like we will have the most fair fight between 2 drivers ever - if it goes to the wire either will be a deserving champion.

  • Comment number 9.

    My personal opinion is that Button has been gifted a brilliant car this year, and has failed to make the most of it. Most very average drivers would have taken full advantage of this.

    You have drivers such as Hamilton, (all be it making mistakes as today has shown) pushing to the limits, and getting the most out of substandard cars, and even beating Button on quite a few occasions...

    I think its a shame that Button has been given this oppurtunity, and has squandered it so far. He is no-where near as talented as he thinks he is!

    Good for Rubens winning today. A great racer, and gentleman.

  • Comment number 10.

    David coultard needs to stop making it clear to everyone that he is not a lewis hamilton fan and is obviously a very good friend of jenson button.
    He was the first to say lewis should of been penalised in qualifying (Not) and then after the race today comes out with well atleast jenson made it to the end and did not lose it on the last lap, does that not tell you something?
    He never gives him compliments and seems to forget he is the current world champion which after 13 years he never achieved so he for one should be looking up to lewis rather than trying to knock him down, it has to be that he is very jeolous of what lewis has done in his short time in F1. Come on eddie, sort him out please!!!
    Good Luck to jenson this year and keep the title in british hands.

  • Comment number 11.

    No 9 - you contradict yourself on one hand Jenson is less than average but on the other Rubens is a great racer!!

    Which one is leading the championship?

    Duh.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Some comments dissing on Button are quite laughable. It takes supreme skill to keep even a very good car right on the edge. Brawn have produced a good car and their aero package and engine combination gave them the head start at the start of the season; but for Button to come back and put in a good result at Monza, when other teams like McLaren have caught up, shows that Button fully deserves the reputation he has in F1 as an extremely talented driver.

  • Comment number 13.

    Finally Jenson seems to have it back on track, but it's always great to see Rubens Barrichello having such a good run of results, and he fully deserves it.

    I only hope he can keep closing that gap, because, unfortunately for fans who wanted the fight to go right to the end, Red Bull have endured another disastrous run. It again demonstrates the risk of only qualifying in the midfield - Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton experienced those woes at Spa.

    Always great to be at Monza, a beautiful and legendary venue. Red Bull have one last chance now - if they flump Singapore, then Brawn practically have the titles sealed - but if Barrichello keeps the pace up - who knows what might happen? Exciting times are on the horizon...let's just hope this latest Renault saga doesn't put a dampener on proceedings.

  • Comment number 14.

    Button will probably go on to win it now the spineless Red Bull challenge has petered out.

    Even so he will go down as one of those undeserving eminently forgettable champions who lucked into a great car while his betters were subdued by swinging regulation changes.

    Button's tenure will last 12 months, Hamilton's spirit will live forever.

  • Comment number 15.

    No. 9 - Please explain how Button is a less than average driver if he has scored more points in the same car as Barrichello, a man who you claim to be a great racer?

    There are clearly people who have some kind of weird personal vendetta against Button. Yes, he has a good car this year but he has outscored his team mate over 13 races.

    If Rubens is great then so must Jenson be.

  • Comment number 16.

    I have to wonder what planet people are on when I see comments like "Button lucked into a great car". He's been in the team for over 5 years, how is that luck??? Honda/Brawn spent a long time developing this car, luck had nothing to do with it!

    Jenson has always been a highly regarded driver across the paddock for many years. I think their opinion is much more valid than the armchair F1 racers who believe they could win the WDC in an invalid carriage.

    With 4 races to go Jenson leads by 14 points and it is effectively a two horse race after another poor show by the Red Bull team.

    Good luck to both Rubens and Jenson and may the best driver win.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is quite funny to hear the Hamilton fans criticise Button as the inevitable draws nearer, that being Button as the new world champion.

    Not everybody can have a team built around them like Lewis Hamilton has at McLaren and its quite wierd how people who criticised Schumacher's number 1 status at Ferrari are probably the same people who are willing to turn the blind eye to the exact same thing happening at McLaren since Hamilton joined them.

    The fact that Jenson Button has managed to lead a title race in a team where both drivers are actually given the same equipment and same opportunities should be applauded, not sniped at. How Button is different from any other driver who has been fortunate enough to be given a strong car is beyond me. Personally I look forward to Jenson wrapping up this title race soon and I don't think I will be alone in celebrating a change in the driver occupying the number 1 English driver crown.

    If McLaren finally have the sense to get rid of Kovalinen who has consistently under-performed, then the dream situation could arise of Button joining McLaren so we could finally put the debate to rest. Unfortunately that's probably very unlikely to happen.

  • Comment number 18.

    Whoever gets the most points deserves to be champion, but there is an air of this season being a transitional one for the sport in general and the usual front runners have been hindered by poor cars early in the season. Not that any of that is Button's problem, to be fair.

    Button is a good driver and has made the most out of the best car on the grid. However, if he wants to end up ranked as a true great, he has to do it season after season. I still think the mark of a truly great driver is being able to win races in a car that is not the fastest. For example, Senna in 1993, Schumacher between 1996 and 1998, even Hamilton and Raikkonen this year. For me, those drivers worked hard and galvanised the team into making the car better. Button has yet to prove he can win in a car that is not the fastest. In Valencia it was close between McLaren and Brawn, and he was nowhere. His mid-season has been awful for someone leading the championship.

    I think Button is good, but if he can manage to win the title or at least come close next season when other cars will be more competitive all year rather than the sporadic bursts from different teams this year (Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari) then he will clear some of the doubts that he can only win in the best car.

    In direct relation to the article, 14 points with 4 races to go is a mammoth lead. Barring mishap, he should win it comfortably, which is shame for entertainment value. As he and Barrichello drive the same car, if Brawn have a bad weekend, they both will. I can't see a natural situation arising where Barrichello wins and Button is nowhere. From Barrichello's point of view, he would probably need Button to get tangled up on the first lap or have mechanical failure to stand a decent chance.

  • Comment number 19.

    Button has pretty much beaten all of his team mates, from his rookie drive at Williams against the experienced Ralf Schumacher to Villeneuve(a former DWC and Indycar champ) JV made a huge thing pre-season about how he was going to crush Jenson, only to be roundly trumped by Jenson and 3/4 of the way through the season JV packed his bags and left in a huff.

    Button has often gotten more out of the car than many pundits believed possible, and now he has a car that can win races consistently he is winning races and leading the DWC.

    I always felt that Frank Williams made a mistake when he loaned Button to Benetton, Williams would have been far better served if they had let Ralf go and kept Jenson with JPM. I suppose they valued Ralfs experience more than Jensons ability.

  • Comment number 20.

    E-Type - what do you mean "the spineless Red Bull challenge?" For them to have made the progress from mid-table obscurity to being second in the CWC, with both drivers winning races and lying third and fourth in the DWC is a remarkable achievement. The performance of Brawn definitely puts them in the shade, along with the rest of the grid, but for them to be ahead of the grandee teams in a season with such radical rule changes deserves massive respect.

  • Comment number 21.

    then the dream situation could arise of Button joining McLaren so we could finally put the debate to rest.
    ...........................................................................
    It would quickly turn into a nightmare for Button.

    And I don't hear much of a debate.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why do people keep slagging off Button? For only the second time in his career he gets a decent car and for me is doing a damn good job in it (just like the previous time in 2004). You only have to look at Hungary 2006 to prove Jenson does not need the best to win a race, he may have benefited from an Alonso retirement then, but he was catching him extremely quickly anyway.

    If Button wins the World Championship it will be fully deserved like all the champions before him*

    *except 1994 =P

  • Comment number 23.

    E-Type - what do you mean "the spineless Red Bull challenge?"
    ..........................................................................
    Both drivers have promised and not delivered a sustained Championship challenge.

    For years Webber fans have said he was Champion material if only he was in a better car.............
    Vettel has been widely lauded as a super talent...............

    Under the intense scrutiny of a Championship dogfight neither has enhanced their reputations....in fact quite the opposite.

    As a neutral looking to salvage at least a little excitement from this season I am very disappointed with their lily livered 'challenge'.





  • Comment number 24.

    One small factor that might play into Jenson's hands is that Rubens never seems to perform well at his home grand prix in Brazil. If Jenson can maintain a healthy lead over Rubens in the next two races, then the pressure of trying to achieve a good result in Brazil could prove too much for Barrichello.

    Whilst I don't want to rule out the Red Bulls until it is mathematically impossible for them to win, Webber not scoring for three races and Vettel only picking up one point in Monza has really allowed the Brawns to move away.

    Let's hope for some entertaining races!

  • Comment number 25.

    Anyone who says Button isn't getting the best out of this great car is talking nonsense. 6 wins out of the first 7 races speaks for itself, that really is making the most of good machinery. When the other teams developped their cars and caught up to Brawn, he ended up further down the order, but still took points from every race until Spa, when he was taken out (down to poor qualifying, probably showed that that was the only weekend he wasn't getting the most out of the car). His lowly 7th in Valencia was down to the first few corners of the race, having to back off at the flat-out turn 1 to avoid having his wing taken off by Vettel, then yielding a place back as it was gained by cutting the chicane, thus losing track position on a circuit where nobody has ever overtaken anyone...ever.

    If anything, it is red bull who failed to use their speed advantage to great effect; since a win and 2nd each in GB and Germany, Vettel has had a 3rd and an 8th, and Webber a single 3rd; not exactly championship form, but not entirely the drivers' fault.

    Rubens has come good after a consistent but unspectacular start, and probably is driving as well as we've seen him. I'd back him to break his Interlagos curse this year (It's the best chance he'll have to win there without Massa), but I think Jenson will have the better of him at Singapore and probably Suzuka, so by Brazil the title could well be out of reach for Rubens...

  • Comment number 26.

    @22 because they have nothing better to do?

    There seem to be a large number of people who hate anyone who is leading the championship / won championships simply because they have. I would say this hatred is aimed at Lewis and Jenson, but then I remember all the hatred that Schumi and Alonso have received from arm chair racers/team bosses/pundits.

  • Comment number 27.

    How would Jenson be an undeserving champion? I find some of the comments on here laughable. I follow the Brits but I have noticed that if Jenson does well its the car and if he doesnt do well its Jenson.
    During the past three/Four seasons Jenson and Rubens have struggled with a dog of a car. . Jenson or Rubens will be a deserving Champion and it will be greeted warmly by most people who have a decent knowledge of F1.

    Jenson and Rubens have been refreshing in their outwardly natural and warm respect for each other. I prefer this to the petulant nonsense you get from most other drivers (Lewis included).

    Good luck both.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hamilton needs some serious sorting out by his team, to challenge for second when one second behind on the last lap, on a track with few passing possibilities, doesn't speak of "spirit", it speaks of hubris.

    The person that looks like sheer genius today? Russ Brawn - more so than either of his drivers, or any other team boss. He engineered those white and green monsters, and he selected the strategy, even though all the simulations said a two-stop strategy was probably faster. Second are the engineers at Mercedes, who have produced this season's engine of choice.

    Last place unfortunately has to go to McLaren - with a top chassis, the top engine, a world champion driver, AND KERS, they self-destructed, a combination of poor strategy choice and driver error. It was only last race at Spa that Eddy Jordan was bemoaning the McLaren focus on computers and simulations for strategy, and claiming that guts and instinct were better. Today Russ Brawn showed he may be right...

  • Comment number 29.

    Jenson has been criticised by many hacks for his dip in performance mid season, suggesting he can't handle the pressure.
    Funny how this pressure got to him just when his car fell off the pace of other improving teams and struggled with tyre problems that neither Brawn driver could either understand or fix.
    Obviously just a coincidence that Jenson has now rediscovered his form just at the same time the car is quickest out there, in the hands of both drivers. Nothing to do with JB then, he just sits in the cockpit pointing it in the right direction.
    Give the guy a break, and suck it up when he wins the WC

  • Comment number 30.

    Hubris... Hero or zero... If Lewis had pulled it off and taken 2nd then he would have been everyone's driver of the day... Lewis is the type of driver who once he has the scent of blood will go for it, he knew Jenson had far more to lose than him so was trying to make Jenson make a mistake or let him past.

    To me that showed the talents of Jenson, he was able to keep his head and soak up the pressure of a hard charging Lewis, and by doing so the pressure got to Lewis. At the end of the day the mistake he made was probably tiny and it was because he was driving on the edge (as he had been the entire race) that the mistake threw him off the track.

  • Comment number 31.

    Amazing how some people sit in their armchairs and pontificate over the merits of F1 drivers, as if they are old hands.
    But I've heard it all tonight when LH is criticised for racing in the last lap! Get a grip fella, thats what they are paid to do, thats what they love, and thats why people watch F1. Its about racing and it's about entertainment. In your world pal they would all be doing 57 parade laps!

  • Comment number 32.

    The next two races will be critical, apart from the obvious reasons. Singapore should favour Brawn, so it will be a straight fight. Suzuka should actually play into the hands of Red Bull, but then again Spa did as well. If Barrichello can beat Button next time around, even by a point, then Suzuka might come good for him. The reason people criticise Button is that when the car's been poor, Barrichello's had the measure of Button, and if that's the case at Suzuka Barichello could take enough points into Interlagos - another supposed Red Bull track, which Rubens knows and loves and is his home race - to give him the momentum to make Abu Dhabi an honest, whoever-finishes-ahead-wins-the-title race.

    Hats off to Lewis. It was a mistake but he gave it his all, even though McLaren would have preferred to have those 6 points. If Button had to pass Hamilton for championship points, I'm not sure he would have been that relentless.

    I hope Rubens wins the title. He's not been better than Button, but I'd rather him than a guy who built up a massive lead without having anyone really push him for it and then have it dwindled by putting in such a poor run. If he wins it through good drives and one retirement from now, fair enough. But if he scrapes by just because of his current point lead - and I don't buy into this "the others failed to score an open goal" argument, Button's had far more fights for victories where he only had to worry about one car's pace - I'm not so sure.

  • Comment number 33.

    #32 - When JB was building up his massive points lead, what was Rubens doing in the same car? Your logic doesn't stack up.

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 - If Rubens wins the next 4 races then he will have won as many races this season as Jenson has... In the same car as Button as well... and thats a huge IF.

    Many world champions have struggled for part of the season, even in cars that where consistently better than the rest... Even if Jenson only wins by 1 point he will still have 6 race wins this season... one of which he only got half points for, through no fault of his own and given his drive in that race if it had gone to full or 3/4 distance I wouldn't bet against him winning it.

  • Comment number 35.

    I’m so happy to see most of the earlier postings *supporting* Jenson Button, instead of the usual sniping from the British media and public at a British driver, in a British car, on the way to winning a World championship.
    I suppose those who think the other way were looking the other way when Nick Fry (CEO, Brawn GP) said, after the race, that the team’s policy has always been to give both drivers the same equipment “and if we don’t have enough parts for two cars, we don’t use the parts on either car”. Ross Brawn (Team Principal, Brawn GP) has always said that both drivers will get the same treatment and be free to race each other.
    So much for *lucking* into a good car, or being a lesser driver than Rubens Barrichello.
    He has made the best of a good chance this year, and is on the way to making us all proud. Let’s all give him our support.

  • Comment number 36.


    What's all that with Button 'deserved champion' and 'back on track'? And that bull about equal equipment and opportunities.

    Isn't he an aspiring champion? Wasn't he beaten by his teammate again for starters? How was he 'on track' then? Hasn't he been slower than his teammate in at least half of the gp weekends so far? Why don't you put the gp's down one by one instead of jumping the bandwagon. Slower in the 6 since GB onwards at the very least. And isn't his teammate considered to be with all due respect not one of the very top? And what's more at the dusk of his career, a bit like DC who at the same time of his career was being thrashed by Webber?

    Button 14 points in front? Who cares.

    Rubens: Australia, Turkey & Spa (3 races) - mystery software glitch off the line loses him 10 places each. How many points does that make altogether? Hungary - whole spring comes off and he qualifies 13th. How many points is that? Turkey - gearbox failure. That? Nurburgring - convenient fuel rig trouble brings him just ahead of Jenson on the road. That? Spa - oil leak & fire and now he has to pray for the gearbox. Now that the RedBulls are out I can see him crying again in the interviews.

    Jenson:...................

    Absolutely equal then. Evened itself out nicely through the season. As the guy above said, Ross and Fry said it's all equal after all - and why wouldn't they be truthful?

    On top of that you have the attrocities of Spain where the guy leads the race easily and they switch him to the 'ideal' 3-stop strategy despite him starting the heavier. And of course Nurburgring where after that 'unfortunate' rig failure they call him in first for the last stop (despite him being heavier and ahead on the road again). For anyone with the slightest exposure to motorsport the above are not just outrageous but I doubt whether they've been seen anywhere before. Yeah I know, Ross said Rubens doesn't know the facts and he wasn't quick when it mattered so that's allright then. Why wouldn't we believe Ross? And Ron for the last couple of years? Straightforward genuinely honest guys.

    Not to mention Ross's masterpiece of the extra stop in Bahrain (starting with the same lstrategy as his teammate) that lost him 30 seconds and at least 2 places on the road. I'll also bypass the Monaco race when Rubens being lighter was miraculously losing 1s a lap in the 1st stint with Kimi stuck right behind his tail and afterwards for the remaining 60 laps and with Button released he speeded up all of a sudden. And I'll bypass the fact that one was giving away setups in the beginning of the season when the other was struggling in practices, and that the same guy has been having the heavier strategies in most of the Q3s.

    So what's your take on all that Mr.Benson? That Button will be remembered as arguably the worst and most undeserved champion ever, the guy who was regularly outpaced by a retiring Barichello but nicked it because of mechanicals and the occasional backstabbing? You that you're the so-called 'expert'? Wait, wasn't it you who was saying Lewis was a better driver than Massa last season? Oh well...



  • Comment number 37.

    @36
    powerful stuff, though a bit OTT

    IT's true to say that since the British GP, Jenson has failed to extend his lead whatsoever - it would be a tame affair to see Jenson crowned champion solely based on points scored in the first 7 races of the season when the rest of the teams were still trying to understand the rules.

    I'm with Rubens - he's got a mountain to climb, he's in the twilight of his F1 career...and in this ridiculously over-obsessed sponsor-driven sport I really want him to win it a make a point that his age and experience should be the overriding factor to Hamiltonesque whooping.

  • Comment number 38.

    I don't think anyone would begrudge either Brawn driver the championship after the Honda years. Although Monza was better for Button, he never looked like winning the race and Barrichello had him covered anyway.

    If Jenson does win the title, I have a feeling it will be done the hard way by scraping over the finishing line as Rubens is on a roll at present.

    Just to change track for a moment, how's this for an idea to combat the testing problems?

    In order to give young or returning drivers some track time during the season, why not have a mini-race on a Friday or Saturday, e.g. 10 or 15 laps with one car (T-car) from each team driven by a test/reserve driver of the team's choice. No points or pit stops, one set of tyres and the team can run any development parts they want that can not be used in the proper F1 race that weekend.

    That way, teams can evaluate new drivers in an F1 environment, test new parts for the cars and give the spectators something else to watch other than GP2 and the Porsche Supercup?

  • Comment number 39.

    @ 36. At 00:37am on 14 Sep 2009, nibs wrote:

    "So what's your take on all that Mr.Benson? That Button will be remembered as arguably the worst and most undeserved champion ever, the guy who was regularly outpaced by a retiring Barichello but nicked it because of mechanicals and the occasional backstabbing? You that you're the so-called 'expert'? Wait, wasn't it you who was saying Lewis was a better driver than Massa last season? Oh well..."

    I imagine that Mr Benson's point is he was right last year and this year Jenson has more points than Rubens.... which sort of makes your point a bit, well, pointless?

    Have you got a league of the "worst" world driver champions to hand? Care to mention who they are?

  • Comment number 40.

    @36 you forgot to mention Brawn and his alien overlords using their telekinetic powers to slow Rubens down and pull Jenson along the track quicker...

    These conspiracy theories always leave me baffled... Why would Ross Brawn by sabotaging one of his cars / drivers from the start of the season? Is it because he felt his team wasn't on shaky enough ground, that he didn't have any real sponsors and thought crippling Rubens chances might attract some?

    Your rant is almost as idiotic as the ones about how McLaren paid huge amounts of cash to Alonso so they could promote a rookie over him...

  • Comment number 41.

    Good grief, the level of slanging is pathetic.

    Despite their different stytes, the two drivers have been pretty evenly matched. Button was able to capitalise in the hot races, his smooth style preserved the tyres much better than Barrichello and is arguably kinder on the mechanics. A good example would be Monaco, where Barrichello (along with a host of others) cooked his tyres and effectively lost the race in the first stint. However, in the cooler races, Barrichello's "all-action" style has got more temperature into the black stuff, allowing him better performances.

    Both have made their mistakes. Barrichello has made three terrible starts this season and was guilty of slagging his team off in public. Button has been too fussy about setup and allowed his mid-season dip in form to frustrate him unnecessarily.

    Clearly there is no pleasing some Button detractors, but he has had some great moments this season. Passing Hamilton at Shanghai, and Kovalainen at Monza, were key moves against KERS cars that would have crippled his race had he not pounced early. His drive at Monaco was peerless, where he got a set of tyres totally unsuited to conditions to last many laps longer that others had to pit early, so awful was the rubber duration. His last stint at Monza was also excellent. Hamilton was catching fast but Button managed to stick in some faster laps to make it virtually impossible for Lewis, who promptly binned his car in desperation.

    I'm looking forward to an exciting end of the season!

  • Comment number 42.

    People's ability to ignore (inconvenient) fact never ceases to amaze me.

    Get real out there!

  • Comment number 43.

    I also disagree with those saying Button is less than average.
    Even with a good car, you have to be one of the best to be up there.

    Average footballers can make it to the top. The premiership is full of them. But in my opinion racing takes a heck of a lot more talent, intelligence and guts. I consider myself good a very good driver and so i raced against some people who did professional karting...(which is a million miles from F1) and to put on a perfect line, lap after lap afterlap at top speeds, not making any errors, getting the judgement right everytime...man it's hard. I came 11th and as far as i was concerned i was flat out, start to finish...pushing it to the limit.

    I'd have done better in a real car to be fair, but my point is that until you race some proper drivers for real...then it really hits home just how good you have to be to make it.

    I hope Button wins it, but if Rubens gets it then good for him. Most of the F1 drivers seem like pretty decent guys and i don't prefer any 1 over the other really. To be honest i just think it's a nice change to see the way they go on as opposed to the joke that is a professional footballer.

    F1 is the best sport there is, and anyone who can win the title deserves repsect!!

  • Comment number 44.

    As it stands it's Rubens who is charging as he has to, JB is doing what he needs to in the same way other champions have closed the competition to its conclusion.

    It may be close but JB should win by at least 5 points.

    Go Jenson!

  • Comment number 45.

    What a race!! Huge double for brawn that gives a deserving ross brawn one hand on the constructors with red bull having there dodgy engines. Gutsy racing by hamilton to keep driving on the edge till the very end! Amazing! Sad that a little mistake made him crash out but he had nothing to lose and if he had taken button he wouild have got alot of applause! Love rubinho great drive with a great car and a great stratergy can't wait for the asain races with the two brawns going head to head. Button had a great race too, with all the media pressure and hamilton charging him down at the end he still kept his cool and drove smoothly (as he alway does!) Can't believe everyones getting on his back he is a great driver and this championship will be one to be remebered for many reasons!! And as for the comments regarding him if he does secure the tilte he will be a forgotton champion then hes in good company with kimi raikonnen, who is one the if not the best driver in F1 atm and I hope he stays in F1 as he is a joy to watch and I love his ice like personna on the track!!

  • Comment number 46.

    @36, Thank you for brightening up my morning. I particularly loved your definition of motorsport expertise: namely, anyone who agrees with you. Classic.

    I also thank you for pointing out that, since Jenson was faster than Rubens in Monaco, Jenson must be the worse driver. Until that moment, I had foolishly assumed it worked the other way around. Or perhaps I misundertood, and you really meant that Rubens himself is part of the conspiracy against Rubens? Either way, it's pretty funny and I enjoyed it greatly.

  • Comment number 47.

    12,16,17 Well you have said all i would have said! Whilst i admire Hamilton a lot it was typical of the British press to say something along the lines of 'hes a racer etc' rather than 'had no hope of getting second and threw away 6 points to Ferrari of all people'. You won't ever see Button doing that, Great pass on Kovy yesterday, thought Rubens was superb all weekend long but Lewis needs a better teamate (will he get one in a Lewis centred team?) Heikki showed once again that in the races he just doesn't have it although at least he kept it on the track...! Still the Toyotas had a great battle even if Glock, for me, has been one of the biggest dissapointments this year.

  • Comment number 48.

    I love the way that whenever we get a British world champion it's because of the car and not because of the drivers being very good. Hamilton was a worthy champion last year and, if Button wins this year, he will be a worthy champion too.

    The world championship is a combination of the best driver and the best car, of course it is- a crap driver won't win the title in the best car and the best driver won't win the title in a crap car. But it's odd that when Button does well it's the car and when he does badly it's the driver. Just as it is with Hamilton. No, they're both very talented drivers and deserve their success.

    What makes me laugh are all these armchair pontificators who decree who's good and who's bad. Stick any of these people in a Brawn GP car and they wouldn't even be able to get out of the pit lane- look at Richard Hammond in the Renault F1.

  • Comment number 49.


    What conspiracy are you on about? Are you mad? The conspiracy is that THEY HAVEN'T switched them around. The guy is the heaviest and comfortably in the lead so with the 2 stops that everyone else even the lighter guys are doing HE'S WON THE RACE. Game over. Strategically there's no way in hell he can lose it. With the extra stop he can only be worse off, he has to make up 30 seconds on the road get stuck in traffic overtake ppl on the racetrack INCLUDING HIS TEAMMATE IN THE 3RD STINT -apart from SC risk etc. Have you ever watched motorsport before or you're all schoolkids and teenage girls? Same in Germany he's ahead with more fuel and surprise surprise they call him in first. Bahrain it's the usual 3-stopper again.

    Oh and what about the mechanicals etc where it's 7-0 so far? Oh that's part of the game ain't it. The rub of the green. But it's equal -Ross said it after all- and Jenson is leading coz he's been the better driver at the start.

    Wake up, drivers don't change too much from one year to the next. Jenson is more than decent but are most on the current grid better than him? Yes. Has he been finding it tough against Rubens who isn't exactly among the very best, this season and the year before? (as well as the likes of Fisichella and Ralf in the past?) Yes. Has he been slower in the SIX gp's since Silverstone and maybe a couple earlier on where he had trouble? Yes. Were it even-stevens would Rubens now probably be 10 points ahead? Yes. Without the pitstop and blowup that cost him 22 points would Massa have beaten Lewis to the title by a country mile? Yes.

    End of story - enough with the media bull.




  • Comment number 50.

    Lets look at it the other way round. If, for the first half of the season, Button had been finishing 5th, 6th, 7th and the occasional podium, then pulled out 6 wins in the last 7 races, would people be saying he is an undeserved champion? Probably not, no. Or if his 6 wins (so far) were spread out throughout the season (which is already more than Lewis got last year, and Kimi the year before) instead of all at the beginning, would people be saying he doesnt deserve it? Probably not again.

    Taking a well known saying, that is being used all too often in the media....if a runner, say Usain Bolt as he is hot property at the moment, was racing the 200m, and built up a commanding lead in the first 100m, but the subsequent 100m his competitors started to catch up, leaving Bolt to quite literally 'limp over the line', would he be any less deserving of being crowned the winner? He still finished first didnt he?. So if Button finishes the WDC by winning on race victories alone, why shouldnt he be a deserving champion?

    And for everyone out there who claims he was lucky to be in a brilliant car while the rest of the field were catching up, i refer you to almost every world champion...Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Fangio. None of them really had more than 1 competitive constructor to race.

  • Comment number 51.

    'Has he been slower in the SIX gp's since Silverstone and maybe a couple earlier on where he had trouble? Yes'

    No. Jenson out-performed Rubens in Hungary AND Germany, which I believe are included in your 'six GP's since Silverstone'. Not including the first 7 races of the season. So really, in terms of races, its 9-4 to Button. Yet somehow, in some peoples eye's, Rubens would be the more deserving chamion.

  • Comment number 52.

    #48

    I agree with your points, it is the best package over the course of the season that counts, which Brawn and Button have been more than any other team/driver combination. Badoer's failings in the Ferrari show how important the driver is. He finished last in Spa in the same car as Raikkonen who won the race. This suggests that the drivers at the front of the grid are all exceptional and just very close to each other in terms of ultimate performance, not because the cars do all the work as everyone always seems to think.

    However, people should be entitled to their opinion on who is good and who isn't. It's the same with any sport. Although people may not be F1 drivers, it doesn't mean they can't have an educated opinion on a topic, otherwise opinions on drivers would just be limited to people who have driven the cars before. It's the same as saying that people who aren't professional footballers can't judge who's good and who isn't. Andrew Benson, the author of this blog, has never been and never will be an F1 driver, but is entitled to his opinion as much as anybody else who comments on here.

  • Comment number 53.

    A lot of the people on here seem to be acting as if driving the best car is some sort of crime. And that Button doesn't deserve to win because he hasn't beaten Barrichello in every single race. Now, I know that F1 has had a number of rule changes, but I wasn't aware that a rule had been brought in that in order to win the title you have to beat Rubens Barrichello in every race.

    I'm not an F1 expert, but my understanding of it is that there are two steps:

    1) The team builds a good car.
    2) A good driver wins races and scores points with it.

    As far as I can tell, at the start of the season Brawn did the best job of 1), which gave Button and Barrichello the best chance of doing 2). Button capitalised on this chance. The other teams hadn't done as good a job of 1), so their drivers, however good they may be, struggled to do 2). The point is, you can't win a World Championship without both a quality car and a quality driver. Therefore, both the team and the driver must do a good job. This is the case with Brawn and Button. The other teams evidently didn't do their jobs well enough, so those teams don't deserve to win the World Championship, therefore, by extension, their drivers don't deserve to win the World Championship.

  • Comment number 54.


    "Are you mad?"


    51. At 11:24am on 14 Sep 2009, sweenie02 wrote:

    "Jenson out-performed Rubens in Germany"


    I'll take that as a yes then.



  • Comment number 55.

    f1tevaldo May I point out that the BBC said how smooth Button was driving but that's easier when you're going so much slower than Hamilton. Yes Hamilton dropped it but he unlike boring Button was right on the edge and had nothing to lose or really gain form the race so he may as well have tried everything to get second. He isn't in the championship hunt so the team would probably gain more from some flat out laps feedback form the car than 6 points. Alonso regularly called the best racer regularly drops the car pushing it to the limit in a fairly pointless pursuit of 6th so why does it matter when Lewis loses it in a race and championship that has no value to him.
    Although I personally believe McLaren is the best team and the best place for Lewis I'm really not sure about Witmarsh who has handled this season so poorly that I question his position as team leader. Staggering from one scandal to the next with a terrible car that eventually improved and now awful tactics and team errors costing points. How can he continue?
    Why was Lewis on a two stopper yesterday which meant he had no real chance of the win. And why when he supposedly gave Lewis support after the race stating that you couldn't take the racer out Lewis he sounded as if he would rather have two Kovvi's. "Well he may have finished 10th but at least he finishes" would seem to his thinking. He is just too cautious and too slow in making pit wall decisions. I feel he will continue to cost Lewis races and championships in this respect.

  • Comment number 56.

    Its actually quite simple - the driver with the most points wins and deserves to win the Championship. Whether that is Barrichello, Button or whoever. Yes Button had a down turn in results but is it his fault no other team were able to fully capatilize on that? No. Even during his down spell Button was still picking up points with the exception of Spa. Or would people rather the sport went with Mosley's idea of the championship being decided on race wins alone? Brawn and his team have gone away, worked out where they went wrong and seem to have fixed it which does not bode well for the rest of the field.

    As for Hamilton, I think its fantastic he was pushing to the very end because that's what they're supposed to do and what I want to see. Last lap, 1.5 seconds down and he won't give up. Its a shame he lost it coming out the corner. You have to take risks and sometimes they don't work out.

  • Comment number 57.

    @49 Nibs, what are you talking about?

    Just one question, why do you think Brawn is trying to scupper Rubens? Why employ him as a driver if he is going to systematically destroy his chances to win? If he did that why didn't he switch Rubens to a 2 stop at Monza, why not put a bit extra fuel in... all he needed to do was slow Rubens down by a couple of seconds to let jenson overtake him...

  • Comment number 58.

    Right my turn to show some of these idiots how cars differ in F1, kubica bloody amazing driver in a car on the pace look where he is, alonso i still think he is class 678pos in an average car, luizzi aint raced for 2 years 6 7 ish till gear box gave in force india amazing improvement hats off, fisi in ferrai no testing but different car setup etc, placed ninth arguably on the same pace as force india, same with button going from fast to quick not that easy but if ur a class driver easy, vettel crap car eigth, skillful driver
    kubica even worse car was in front till orange and black for obvious safety reasons, heikki good car crap setup 6th or 7th i cant remember, hamilton bloody great car great driver couldnt catch brawn tbh if hamilton had bin contention hewouldnt have bin pushing so hard still wondering how he manged to do it down the straight bit of road, trulli glock good cars really strange hot and cold patches still was fun to watch em scrapping for 11th n 12th shinsuke obviously woeful williams second in team good driver will come good 9th and worse rosberg good driver better williams 8th+ grosjean newbie useless car dont doing that bed torro rosso useless car newbie drivers back of grid, btw all who say button is crap look at fisi and badoer in the red one. kimi shown its fast. Button god used to car quicker exploited it better rubens got it later on now he showing is class so anyone posting on this thingy read my post carefully and remember bar etc absolutely shite car along with aguri and then india remember rubens wet and chilly race was so much better than anyone else but hamilton won. so just think its not that easy to climb into a fast car and use it unless u have uderlying skill and button's easy style made it easier for him to get used to it rather than rubens. anyone who argues just aint reading me properly :)

  • Comment number 59.

    F1 is a TEAM sport. Last year, the Hamilton-McLaren team was the combination that scored the most points. Massa arguably produced a better driver performance, but was let down by certain aspects of the rest of the Ferrari team. However, Ferrari as a unit failed to score as many points with Massa as McLaren did with Hamilton.
    This season, both Brawn drivers have performed well with the cars provided by the engineers. Equally, the mechanics have done a great job in set-up and pit stops. And all the staff behind the scenes, financial, logistics etc etc. The team would be very worthy winners of both the constructors and drivers championship.
    At this point, I cannot see how you can argue that Button does not deserve to be leading. On fastest lap times he is leading Rubens 11-1. Making him by far the "quickest" over 1 lap. The drivers out there putting in great performances when they have nothing to lose at this stage can be expected. Who was going to pay a lot of attention to Sutil, Kimi, Lewis or Alonso crashing out at Monza? If Jenson had been the guy in the wall the press would have had a field day. 4 podiums is almost certain to claim the championship for Jenson in a very worthy way.
    The season is not over until it's over, but equally, Jenson is completely justified in ensuring he wins the title by achieving just enough points to do it. I believe he could put it all on the line and go quicker, but if you had £100, would you risk it for £110 on the flip of a coin? This is also going to show in Q3, ensuring 4th on the grid is essential, risking destroying the car and getting 10th for that last few hundredths at a tricky corner is not going to help. For Jenson, the world championship is worth a lot more than a few bragging rights for having won it by several points. It would be great to win one of the last 4 and be comfortable along with the added respect, but not worth losing the title over. Rubens is very good at Monza, and Jenson will be delighted with the result for both of them. It's a win for the team either way, and the party would have been great!
    If I was Ross Brawn, I would be very interested in keeping the same driver line-up for next year, but equally you want to have a good younger driver coming through to support Button in the future (as long as he still has the hunger, Button easily has 5 good years left in him. He is one of the fittest, and also very energy conservative in his style (incidentally one of the smoothest and naturally talented that F1 has seen). It's just a case of when do you gamble Rubens consistancy for a season with a younger driver.
    Take next year, Brawn will want to win the constructors, and I see no reason they couldn't, even without a driver champion. It could be very tight between several teams next season and consistancy across both drivers might be the key. McLaren may win the drivers championship with Hamilton, but who is going to be backing him up with the points required to win the constructors? Drivers come and go, teams like to be constructors champs.

  • Comment number 60.

    On an alternative note; If Bernie Ecclestones medal system had been put into place this season, then Jenson Button would be 1 podium place away from winning the world title, and the battle would be between just three drivers (Button, Barrichello and Vetel). For the sake of keeping the title race open then I am glad we have stuck to the points system.

    The table would look like this

    1. Button (6)Gold, (2)Silver, (1)Bronze
    2. Barrichello (2)Gold, (3)Silver, (1)Bronze
    3. Vetel (2)Gold, (2)Silver, (2)Bronze
    4. Webber (1)Gold, (3)Silver, (2)Bronze
    5. Raikkonnen (1)Gold, (1)Silver, (3)Bronze
    6. Hamilton (1)Gold, (1)Silver, (0)Bronze
    7. Heidfeld (0)Gold, (1)Silver, (0)Bronze
    8. Fisichella (0)Gold, (1)Silver, (0)Bronze
    9. Trulli (0)Gold, (0)Silver, (2)Bronze
    10. Glock (0)Gold, (0)Silver, (1)Bronze
    11. Massa (0)Gold, (0)Silver, (1)Bronze

  • Comment number 61.

    At the second attempt..... Can I suggest to all the Brit Bashers to lay off JB. He has done an amazing job so far. To all those arm chair racers, I say this, get off jensons back. Could any of you lot do any better, no, didnt think so.

  • Comment number 62.

    Come on stop bashing JB. Hes done a fab job so far. To those arm chair racers I say this, could you lot do any better, no, didnt think so. Instead lets celbrate the fact we have a potential British Champion, give him the support he so rightly deserves.

  • Comment number 63.

    I would like to make the point for debate that maybe the Ferrari is worse than one thought and Kimi has been doing a better job than anyone gave him credit for. The Ferrari was a dog but made improvements to the middle of the grid before Mclaren. however Mcalren have no gone passed the Ferrari whilst the Prancing Horses car doesn't seem to have gotten any better. Kimi was out performing Massa before the accident and has finished on the podium regularly since then. Both replacement drivers have failed to set the world alight or get to grips with the car and yet Kimi is still not regarded as a good a performer than Massa? I find this a little odd

  • Comment number 64.

    Its a bit early to write Fisi off in his Ferrari.

  • Comment number 65.

    If Jenson Button finishes no more than one place behind Barrichello in each of the remaining races, he'll be champion, and of course this shouldn't be too difficult to achieve.

    Unless, of course, his car fails him at the next race - leaving as little as a four-point gap to defend in the Brazilian goes on to win.


    One of the great joys (and, occasionally, frustrations) of any form of motorsport is that everything can be changed in a second, and by the gratuitous whims of fortune.

  • Comment number 66.

    I posted here a few days ago and suggested that Brundle's opinion that Piquet would now be unemployable was both hasty and presumptuous, with respect to who is really guilty of what.

    My posting was removed as it was deemed to be "defamatory" (I didn't insult anyone). As recent events now give credence to what I said, I would like it to be re-published.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 67.

    I really can't understand all these people who don't want JB to win it.
    Ok, so it's not Lewis, the F1 dream guy, the man who deserves everything and always has to fight his team mate, no team orders at Mclaren.
    But JB has worked very hard at BAR, the Honda and now Brawn to get his chance. Only once befor has he had a decent car and he finished 3rd in the WDC behind world beaters. This year the field is admittedly not great, but he still has to do his job, and he's done that. One race without points can't be bad, and that wasn't his fault. I for one am hoping to see JB with the number one on his car next year, a deserved world champion because he has done what he had to do, should he do it.
    I supported Lewis last year because he is a Brit, but I've always been a JB fan, even through the bad cars and dodgy spells. Lewis just avout deserved it last year, JB deserves it this. Good luck to JB and I hope Lewis has a good finish too.

 

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