Monday, July 27, 2009

Have the wheels fallen off Brawn GP?

For the first seven races of the 2009 F1 season, Brawn (and Jenson Button in particular) could do no wrong. They thumped everyone in all but the torrential rain-affected race in China, even when others looked to have the car to beat (namely Vettel at Turkey). As the circus hit the summer months, most people expected that form to continue, despite the recent updates to their closest challenger; Red Bull Renault.

However, that hasn't eventuated. Ok, so the Silverstone and Nurburgring domination by RBR can be explained away by the colder temperatures while the Brawn chassis seems to be like Jack Lemon and likes it hot...please note I said 'like Jack Lemon', not 'the car is a lemon'. However, the last race at Hungary can only be explained by one thing; they no longer have the best car on the grid.

RBR, Williams, Ferrari and, now, McLaren as well as Renault have seemed to, at the very least caught up if not surpassed the Brawn in performance. In a race where the Brawns were hoping to turn the tables on RBR, it didn't happen. Not only did one of their cars miss Q3 for the first time, the championship leader could only manage the eighth best time, giving him a few KERS cars in front of him as well as the dirty side of the grid...not the best place to start. Then in the race, things didn't get much better and the second best thing for Button (the best being Vettel having to retire obviously) was he was able to find a bit of speed in the second stint which allowed him to leapfrog Trulli for seventh while Barrichello could do no better than tenth.

The demonstration that was Australia now seems so very far away.

So what's going on?

Once a shoe-in for both titles, Brawn suddenly find themselves looking over their shoulder as RBR have come on strong and another couple of races like Hungary will see that lead reduced to nothing. As it stands, Button has 18.5 points over Webber while it's 15.5 between the two Constructors...still healthy, but not exactly the dead-certs it was before Silverstone.

This is starting to remind me a little of 1998 when McLaren bolted out of the gates, yet Ferrari were able to close the gap as the season went on, taking the title race to the final round in Japan. The only difference is that, unlike McLaren back then, it's doubtful that Brawn have the resources and/or money necessary to fight off RBR.

There is one saving grace....and that is RBR haven't yet thrown their weight behind just one of their drivers so Webber and Vettel have been taking points off each other. However, it might not matter as the title fight may be between those two now anyway.

We'll find out soon enough once their month hiatus is done.


  1. Why do they take a month off Tez?

    I for one am glad Jensen and Button have fallen off a bit -- its given me hope in the trifecta...but not this week!! LOL

  2. Tez, I remember a lot of talk about the deflector plates being redesigned earlier in the season. Did that happen, and if so, do you think that's a factor in the others catching up?

  3. no idea about the reasoning behind the 4 weeks off, klv...all I know is that all the teams *must* close their factories for at least 2 weeks.

    deflector that the same as the rear diffuser? If yes, then the teams that didn't have it now do and yeah, it has definitely helped the others catch up a bit. But McLaren were over 2 seconds a lap off the pace in race one and now they're at the front; that's purely R&D, the diffuser isn't worth 2 seconds a lap by itself, lol

  4. Delector/diffuser... what's the difference? LOL

    Yes, rear diffuser is what I meant. Thanks! One of those Mondays for me...

  5. It does appear that Brawn GP has a weakness in development, especially considering how strong the car was at the start. I have to think that Ferrari and McLaren racing near the front will only steal points from RBR (and help Brawn). But I'm still hoping for a close finish to the season.

    What the heck has happened to BMW Sauber? They are so far off the pace it's getting ridiculous.

    I'm wondering if Ferrari will have a replacement in Massa's race seat after the break? Not sure who their third driver is or who are their test drivers...

  6. CR & Tez,, Brawn had a better rear diffuser that push a very big gray area of the rule book, This gave them an advantage in the first 4 races over anyone. Then the ruling came that it was ok what they did and other teams could do so as well and they did. I also be leave Brawn need hot weather and also a very smooth track to handle perfect. Shocks/springs and handling are a muck on rought tracks.

    What I saw and seen was the deflector plates is on the front spoiler and how it works is that it flars outward alittle to draw more air threw it. This is the middle section that hangs under or above the nose cap and holds the side wings of the spoiler. The team that won the pole this last race had just installed theres for that race.

    Funny thing was they garunteed the pole with talk around the shop? Funny how that is.