It’s a team thing

Watching Jenson Button climb from the BGP001 in parc fermé after the Brazilian GP on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about the glaring contrast between Jenson’s 2008 season compared to this.

Last year, as Jenson clambered out of his Honda, which he’d managed to drag home in a lowly 17th place, his car was on actual fire.

It was a good visual representation of Jenson’s year in the Honda, when he glanced at the flames licking up the side of the turgid My Earth Dreams paintwork, and just walked off, content with that fact that it was destroyed and he’d never have to drive it again.

It seemed like Jenson’s time in F1 could get no worse, but only a few weeks later it was his career that looked on the verge of combusting, rather than just his car.

Honda’s announcement that it was to pull out of Formula 1, because of the credit crunch, was as much of a surprise to its drivers as it was to the outside world, and Button was at an all-time low.

He paid a visit to the factory shortly after, and found he was lost for words. It took the crew of mechanics, technicians and office staff to pep him up, in typically British style. They told him they were carrying on work with the car, so he should focus on still being an F1 driver.

It picked up Button’s spirits, and proved to be good advice. Just three weeks before the initial race of 2009, Ross Brawn hung his name above the factory door, and Button did a shakedown of the first ever Brawn GP car, the now double-championship winning BGP001.

It was only a few days after that, at the Barcelona test, that the rest of the world started to realise what the former Honda squad knew all along – that this car was damn fast.

At the time, when asked how Ferrari’s 60th anniversary car was testing, Felpie Massa said they were doing great, until these new boys turned up. The BGP001 blew everyone else into the weeds.

For the first half of the season, Brawn destroyed all-comers, with Jenson racking up six wins from the first seven races.

He must have woken up everyday and pinched himself, marveling at the contrast of the previous season where scoring a point was the best he could hope for on any given Sunday.

Much has rightly been written about what an awesome driver and worthy champion Jenson is since he took the chequered flag in Sao Paulo yesterday, but we mustn’t forget what a flawless job Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and all the Brackley squad have done to put him in a winning car.

It’s only with hindsight that the best thing to happen to that whole team was for Honda to decide to knock F1 racing on the head. It’s strange how some times you think you’re down, but actually you’re way up.

And the most tantalising thing we have to consider right now is that the best is still to come. Next year’s season is going to be one to remember.

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