I’ve been quite critical of Jenson Button over this season, as have a lot of others. As a Lewis Hamilton fan it was hard to watch Jenson race to victory after victory at the start of the season while Lewis struggled to get into the second part of qualifying with his underperforming McLaren MP4-24.
Button has the advantage of driving a car that had a lot of money and time pumped into it by virtue of Honda forgoing success in the 2008 season to concentrate on the 2009 season. Of course that didn’t quite go to plan when late last year Honda announced they wouldn’t be taking part in the 2009 season – at this point Jenson Button, and team mate Rubens Barrichello, were without a ride for the 2009 season. The rest of the Brawn GP story, as they say, is history and perhaps both drivers were deserving of such a superior car for sticking with the team.
There’s no doubting that for the first 7 races the Brawn GP were far superior to any others on the grid, with the Red Bulls being the closest in terms of performance. Even though the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have turned up year after with superior cars, this felt different, and I almost resented the Brawn’s performance and Jenson’s success. As the season progressed and other cars got better, specifically the McLaren, the playing field evened out. The only problem, if you can call it that, is that Button had built up such a lead that only his team mate had any chance of catching him, with an outside chance going to either Sebastian Vettel or Mark Weber at Red Bull. This meant that even though Button was under-performing he was still going to be the champion and for me that spoiled the season a little bit.
Moving on to the Brazilian Grand Prix and I was firmly behind Barrichello and wanted him to take both the victory at Interlagos and then the Championship from Button at the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks later. As Vettel had qualified 14th there was no chance he was going to challenge Jenson. Hamilton qualified in 17th which was pretty poor but as always I’d be behind in, hoping he’d be able get past a few people and get some points, maybe even enough to match or get past Kimi Raikkonen on the leader board.
What I witnessed on Sunday was Button having the race of his life and putting on a performance worthy of a champion. With his lead having been eroded over the weeks and there being a strong chance of Barrichello winning after starting from pole position, Button was obviously fighting for his championship and for the first time this season felt very much under pressure. I just wish he’d raced like that for the previous 8 races rather than relying on his cushion of points amassed earlier in the season. Because of his fantastic performance I was pleased for him when he became champion, though at the same time extremely gutted for Barrichello who once again had no luck during his home race.
Congratulations Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 Drivers World Champion, and to Brawn GP, the 2009 Formula 1 Constructors Champions.
After qualifying in 17th, Hamilton also had an amazing race and thanks to a great tactical decision of pitting and changing tyres while the safety car was out early in the race, along with some great driving, he managed to overtake Barrichello with a few laps left and come home in 3rd, another podium finish. Importantly, this meant he overtook Raikkonen and has a 1 point lead going into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – hopefully he can keep the 5th place while helping McLaren remain in 3rd in the Constructors Championship.
While there a few lesser places still to be decided, like Vettel and Barrichello’s fight for second place, we go into the first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with both the Drivers and Constructors Champions already crowned. Still, next season should be fantastic, as long as the FIA don’t throw too many spanners into the works!