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Jenson Button signs for McLaren

November 18th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Singapore, 2009Jenson Button has officially signed a multi-year deal to race at McLaren from 2010.

The pairing of Button and Hamilton will create a kind of British Dream Team that will see for the first time two British World Champions driving together since Graham Hill and Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968.

It seems that Brawn just couldn’t come up with the extra cash Button felt he was worth as a World Champion although the press release puts a slightly different spin on things. Button said:

It’s always a difficult decision to leave a team when you’ve been there for so long. But life is all about challenges – and, most important of all, it’s about challenging yourself. So, although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I’ll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges.

I don’t think it is just about money anyway. Although Brawn started 2009 miles ahead of any other team this was mostly down to a big head start in development and the fact that everyone was starting from a clean slate.

McLaren improved more than any other team this year and Button rightly feels they will have one of the most competitive cars on the track in 2010. And while McLaren might not have been around for as long as Ferrari, they are one of the most succesful teams in Formula One with their own distinguished history. After visiting the McLaren headquarters Button said:

McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a Who’s Who of Formula 1 – Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and of course my new team-mate Lewis Hamilton. I’ve followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it.

When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month, it wasn’t simply the technical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me. No, I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there. And then there’s the team’s epic history: put it this way, the trophy cabinets seem to stretch for miles.

Whether Button will integrate with the team more successfully than the 2006 World Champion did remains to be seen. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said:

It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers – and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula 1.

Moreover, I’m confident that we’ll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson’s and Lewis’s complementary skill-sets.

This also means Hekki Kovalainen is now out of a job which is a shame. Heikki can be very quick and deserves to get a seat at another team. Could we see him partnering Kubica at Renault?

Categories: Drivers Tags: , ,

Webber wins in Brazil. Nobody notices.

October 18th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Brazil, 2009Mark Webber picked up the second win of his long Formula One career at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Unfortunately for Mark, Jenson Button drove a fantastic race from 14th on the grid to finish 5th and in so doing clinched the 2009 Drivers’ Championship, stealing Webber’s glory somewhat.

Brawn GP also picked up the points they needed to win the Constructors’ Championship.

For the fifth time in a row the Interlagos circuit played host to the Championship decider. And what a race it was.

After a washed out qualifying that saw both Button and Vettel dropped in the first session, determined drives from Button, Vettel and Hamilton gave us one of the most thrilling races of the season.

After dispatching Romain Grosjean and Kazuki Nakajima, Button became stuck behind Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi who was filling in for Timo Glock. The young Japanese driver in his first Formula One race put in a gutsy performance. He seems to come from the Takuma Sato school of driving; not afraid to throw his car around the track with willful abandon. Jenson described him as “absolutely crazy.” I agree! Let’s hope he gets a drive next year.

Lewis Hamilton made the most of his KERS powered McLaren by switching to a one-stop strategy when the safety car came out on the first lap. He started from 17th on the grid but drove an aggressive race, passing Alguersuari and Grosjean on a single lap before making Barrichello’s day even worse by passing him on lap 62 to finish 3rd. Hamilton’s podium moves McLaren to 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship, one point ahead of Ferrari.

Speaking of Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen proved how cool he was when a trailing fuel hose from the back of Kovalainen’s McLaren briefly turned him into a human torch. This seemed to have little effect on the Finn and he went on to finish 6th.

The new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi looks spectacular but it’s hard to imagine it producing a more thrilling race than Brazil. Interlagos had it all: unpredictable weather, loads of overtaking, spectacular crashes, even very nearly a trackside punchup between Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli.

This is what Formula One should be.

2009 Brazilian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 2 32:23.081 10
2 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 8 32:30.707 8
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 17 32:42.025 6
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 15 32:42.733 5
5 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 14 32:52.086 4
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 5 32:56.421 3
7 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 32:59.072 2
8 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1 33:08.535 1
9 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 16 33:11.481 0
10 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 11 33:26.081 0
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 19 33:33.746 0
12 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 20 33:34.469 0
13 Romain Grosjean Renault 13 lapped 0
14 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12 lapped 0
RET Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 9 crash, 30 laps 0
RET Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 7 retired, 27 laps 0
RET Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 18 retired, 21 laps 0
RET Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 3 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Jarno Trulli Toyota 4 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Fernando Alonso Renault 10 crash, 0 laps 0

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

If he was racing for medals Jenson would be Champion now

October 6th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Turkey, 2009At the beginning of the year the FIA tried to change the scoring system so that the driver who won the most races would be crowned Champion – the so called ‘medals’ system.

There was much debate at the time as to whether this would enhance or detract from the Championship. I was (and still am) of the opinion that  it would not increase the spectacle and may even harm it.  In the end it was the teams who rejected the plan as it was introduced too close to the start of the 2009 season to be allowed by the FIA’s own regulations.

However, I decided to leave the wins in the Drivers Championship standings in the sidebar so we could see what effect the rule change may have had.

It is clear that under the medals scheme Jenson Button would be Champion now.  In fact, he would have been Champion after Singapore and he hasn’t won a race since Turkey back in June!

In a previous article I posted a quote from Jenson Button where he argues against medals:

I think the public will struggle to understand why a driver with 60 points can become champion instead of the one who has 100. I understand the logic behind it and I find it interesting. For sure it’s an incentive to always go for the win, but it seems risky too – after nine races, we could find ourselves with a driver that has already won the title and can stand still eating ice cream, while the guy in second in the standings is just 18 points behind.

As it turns out Jenson could have been eating ice cream after only 7 races — although he couldn’t have known that in Turkey.

Thankfully, the FIA are going to leave the scoring system unchanged for 2010. Anyway, it still looks like the driver who won the most races is going to win the Championship so that should keep Bernie happy.

For the last couple of years the points based system has provided exceptionally close run Championships and this year looks like it will be no different.

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,

What Jenson needs to win

October 5th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Singapore, 2009Brawn GP will almost certainly wrap up the Constructors’ Championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time but the Drivers’ Championship is still a three horse race.

Jenson Button has a 14 point lead over team mate Rubens Barrichello and a 16 point lead over Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

There are 20 points available over the next two races, so it is still possible for Vettel to be crowned Champion but what will it take for Jenson to seal the Championship at Interlagos?

There are a few ways Button can clinch it:

  1. He finishes third or better
  2. He scores four points more than Barrichello
  3. Vettel finishes lower than second and Barrichello finishes lower than fourth

As usual, Button remains positive:

We go to two circuits now which should suit our car so I’m excited about the end of the season and already looking forward to the next race in Brazil.

Of course if a track suits Jenson’s car it also suits Barrichello’s and the Brazilian will be on home territory fighting for probably his last shot at the Championship:

I’ve got to go there and win the race, that’s the aim. The rest, I don’t care about, and if I deserve to win the championship, I will.

It might be a long shot for him but Sebastian Vettel is not going to give up:

As I’ve said many times already, I will fight until the end, until the last breath.

The good news for fans is that all three drivers will really be fighting for the win in Brazil.  Barrichello and Vettel need it to keep their chances alive and Button can’t afford to lose many more points.

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Prediction game: Round 10 results

July 27th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Hungary, 2009The order hasn’t changed at the top of the prediction game standings with Sergio and Andrew both scoring 6 points in the last round.

Quite a few people recognised the improvement in the McLarens but only Kathryn and myself predicted a victory by Hamilton.

The Ferraris didn’t feature in anyone’s predictions, but even with only one Red Car in the race the Scuderia still came away from Hungary with 8 points.  That puts Ferrari in third place in the Constructors’ Championship, just 1.5 points ahead of Toyota who didn’t have such a bad weekend with both drivers finishing in the points.

Jenson Button is getting worried:

It is nice leading the championship, but it won’t be the case in the next three or four races if we have the performances like we have had in the last few.

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: Prediction Game Tags: ,
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