Tight at the top

It must be getting tricky at Brawn GP’s HQ right now, what with their two drivers being at the sharp end of the World Drivers’ Championship fight, 14 points apart.

Certainly, if you’d have told team boss Ross Brawn at the beginning of the season that his team would be on course for both the WDC and Constructors’ Championship titles, he’d have been chuffed to bits.

But now he finds himself in an odd position, having to manage both of his drivers into the final two races of the season, not wanting to show favouritism to either.

Jenson Button* must be thinking that Brawn has his back over Rubens Barrichello, the latter expected to leave the team at the end of the season. But Ross has publicly stated that he won’t be giving either of them preferential treatment.

And why should he? On paper at least, he looks likely to come away with both titles, which will assure his team’s future, and confirm them as a force to be reckoned with.

However, the same thing happened back in 1986 when the Williams duo of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were scrapping over the title, and had it all to play for going into the last race at the Australian GP.

Then, a third driver had clambered back into the title running at two races to go, and that man was McLaren’s Alain Prost.

Prost snuck in to take the crown at the last race, after a puncture took Mansell out and Williams pitted Piquet early to check the same wouldn’t happen to him.

And more recently in 2007, you’ll recall Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (both with McLaren at the time) were title favourites, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen trailing on points at the last race.

But again, as in ’86, third-placed driver Raikkonen eventually won out for the title.

Will it be a case of history repeating this time around, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel – who played a blinder at the weekend to keep himself in the Championship – running away with the Drivers’ crown?

If that were to happen, Ross Brawn will wish he’d backed one of his horses earlier in the season – most obviously Button, after his six wins from seven races – to assure his team of the title.

Yet as I mentioned a few weeks ago, Barrichello’s form at his home track in Brazil is somewhat appalling, so luck, once again, may tip in Jenson’s favour. Unless, of course, it tips in Vettel’s. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of humour…

Who’s your money on?

*For Button to win the title in Brazil, here’s what needs to happen:
Jenson 1st
Jenson 2nd
Jenson 3rd
Jenson 4th and Rubens no higher than 2nd
Jenson 5th and Rubens no higher than 2nd – in that scenario, assuming Vettel wins, he and Rubens would be 10 points behind with less wins than Button, so neither could take ithe title in Abu Dhabi.
Jenson 6th, Rubens no higher than 3rd and Vettel no higher than 2nd
Jenson 7th, Rubens no higher than 3rd and Vettel no higher than 2nd – again they’d be tied 10 points behind Button.
Jenson 8th, Rubens no higher than 4th and Vettel no higher than 3rd
Jenson 9th or lower, Rubens no higher than 5th and Vettel no higher than 3rd

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