Sunday, March 29, 2009

Formula 1: New Season, New Rules, New Team, New Winner



From worst to first! Brawn Grand Prix has done it! And a storybook one-two finish no less!!

Just a few months ago, Honda dropped a nuke on the Formula One community by pulling out of the sport when it was most needed. The Honda brand had been a horrible debacle the last two seasons, though many believed that their addition of former Ferrari man Ross Brawn would pay some dividends in 2009. Yet, Honda lost faith and gave up on their Formula One program.

But Brawn Grand Prix was born because the team believed in themselves. And how!

Today at Albert Park, Brawn Grand Prix grabbed a 1-2 finish at the Australian Grand Prix in their debut Formula 1 race. Jenson Button easily earned the second win of his Formula One career –and 200th win for a British driver – there is no disputing that. The veteran F1 driver drove exceptionally well from the pole position he earned yesterday in an exceptionally well prepared car. The Briton’s performance put the exclamation point on the great work done by the Brawn organization… They ought thought the rest of the paddock in the off-season, and have completely changed the order of things in Formula One.

Button said of his day, “It always looks easier than it is! When the safety car came out, I struggled massively to get heat into the tires. Just before the safety car pulled in, I flat spotted the tire so I struggled with a nasty vibration. Being in the front should be easy, but it was not easy at all!”
“It’s been a traumatic few months for all of us, but I don’t care! I won the race today, and that’s all I care about!”

For Rubens Barrichello, it was a wild day getting to the podium. While it might have been expected that the Brazilian would cruise around in second following his teammate home after a nice quiet Sunday drive in the park… instead he had a more dramatic day planned.

Barrichello was slow off the starting grid, and slipped back at the start after he hit anti-stall and the car went into neutral. Under braking, Barrichello would not be denied entering turn one. He muscled his way through, knocking the BMW of Nick Heidfeld into the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen. Barrichello got the best of it with a front wing that held!

Rubens said of his day, “It’s strong, very strong! I was hit from behind, I hit someone in the front, it was a tough race! I thought the car was done. The first stint my nose was falling apart. I had a lot of mixed emotions during the race. “

Though he didn’t think he could get back to the front and finish on the podium, Barrichello skillfully worked his back up through the field as the race wore on. His front wing was replaced during a lengthy first pitstop caused by Nakajima when his Williams ended the day with its nose in the wall after rolling badly off the curbing. Luckily, the Williams driver was uninjured because he held onto the wheel during the contact. Numerous drivers have broken their wrists by doing so.

But the initial bad luck turned into further good luck for Barrichello.

With just three laps to go, BMW’s Robert Kubica was following the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and attempted to make a late pass. It all went wrong as Vettel defended his position, and both cars were slammed into the wall. Both cars limped around – with Vettel’s eventually stopping at the side of the track - but each of their great days were ruined for themselves, and for their teams.

Short rant - It was another great example of why Formula One should NOT shorten these races! How many times in the last few years has there been great drama following the final pitstops! Apparently old guys like Flavio Briatore who miss their afternoon naps don’t pay well enough attention to understand that concept….

But I digress.

As for the future… Maybe Brawn GP can find further hope and good fortune. Every time that a Formula One team has taken a 1-2 at Melbourne, the winning driver has won the F1 driver’s championship, and the winning constructor has won the constructor’s championship.

The 2009 Formula One season has started like no other in recent memory. Controversy is already fully upon us as the costly shake-up in the regulations has led to much uncertainty since the FIA hasn’t fully clarified the rules before the first race. With the ban on in-season testing, it will be extremely difficult for any of the trailing F1 teams to re-design their cars to catch up.

So expect a very hard fight on April 14th when the World Motorsport council will decide if Brawn GP have built a better car and if they will get to keep their fabulous win, or if the FIA will steal their victory based on hollow complaints from those who were beaten by a better designed race car.

Source: paddocktalk.com


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