Leaving Australia there was no doubt who the weekend belonged to. Brawn GP confirmed that their winter test pace was real by dominating qualifying, and rounding it off with a 1-2 finish in the Grand Prix itself.
The scary thing is that Jenson didn’t even need to push 100%. The safety car period, and a fumbled second pit stop made it look closer than it actually was in reality. He had far more pace up his sleeve had he needed it
It will certainly go down as one of the greatest stories in F1 history. There was a real “feel good“ factor about this result just like there was in Monza in 2008, when Vettel won in the rain for Toro Rosso.
Many people in the F1 paddock have been left stunned at the pace of Brawn GP. However when we take an in-depth look at the team should we really be that surprised? Should we have perhaps have seen it coming instead?
Why have Brawn GP done so well?
There are a whole host of reasons as to why Brawn GP are so strong.
The main reason that stands out is the amount of time that has been spent working on this car. As soon as Ross Brawn came into the team (in November 2007) he decided that the 2008 car was slow. It had so many problems, that there was no point in trying to improve it. It was going to be virtually impossible to close the huge gap on Ferrari and Mclaren with this car.
With the unique opportunity that the huge 2009 regulation changes presented, Ross Brawn decided to waste no time whatsoever. The 2009 rules were like starting from a fresh piece paper. With the 2009 regulations the teams were starting again at the same level again. Think of it as pressing the reset button.
Brawn GP invested far more time on the 2009 car than any other team. They had at least a 6 month head start on all the other teams. Reports suggested that the team had up to 4 wind tunnels working overtime throughout 2008 just on the 2009 car.
With all this time that the team has had, has allowed them to put a lot of thought into this car. Just looking at the car, you can tell that it has been a long time in the making. You can see the sheer detail everywhere on the car. The front wing has lots of little details on it and the sidepods are beautifully sculpted. The fresh 2009 rules ment there were many different development routes, which could have been taken. Ross Brawn, and his team of engineers have clearly gone down the right route. They have adapted to the new aerodynamic rules brilliantly, and have just done a better job than all the other teams.
There are some great betting opportunities this weekend. With so many rule changes in F1 this season, the first race of the season is a great chance to catch the bookmakers out.
Here is my guide to a few of the best value bets.
All odds are taken from William Hill
Qualifying – Pole Position
Jenson Button 4/1
Felipe Massa 5/1
Kimi Raikkonen 11/2
Fernando Alonso 11/2
Lewis Hamilton 7/1
Rubens Barrichello 7/1
Robert Kubica 8/1
Sebastien Vettel 20/1
Heikki Kovalainen 25/1
Nick Heidfeld 25/1
Timo Glock 25/1
Jarno Trulli 25/1
Nico Rosberg 33/1
Mark Webber 50/1
Nelson Piquet Jr 50/1
Kazuki Nakajima 66/1
Sebastien Bourdais 125/1
Sebastien Buemi 150/1
Giancarlo Fisichella 200/1
Adrian Sutil 200/1
The best value bet there has to be Jarno Trulli. Trulli is one of the best qualifiers in F1 (the best in my own opinion). He also has what looks like a very fast Toyota this season. If they are close to the front running pace, then I am sure Toyota will go aggressive, and go for pole posiition.
Now that Lewis has won a world title some of the immense pressure is now lifted. No matter what happens now, he will always be referred to as a world champion. Had he lost last season’s title final, life would be feeling much tougher right now.
It is clear that Hamilton has enormous talent.
When he performs at his best he is one of the best out there, if not the best. However he still has many flaws. He makes silly errors, and can make life hard for himself. The pressure from outside can often get to him, and affect his driving.
In the future if he can cut all these flaws from his game, then more world titles will surely be won. At the moment though it’s looking like it could be a tough season for Lewis.
The Mclaren currently isn’t a front runner. On a positive note this is his key chance to prove the critics wrong. He can prove to them that his early success wasn’t just about having a quick car.
He can prove that he can drive a car further than it deserves to be, like all the greatest drivers in F1’s history. If he achieves that in 2009, his critics will have to start finally taking note.
If he struggles in a difficult car, it will only confirm their suspicions. This season will tell us plenty about Lewis’s ability, even if he is unable to defend his title. Can he battle hard from the midfield to score points? This is one of the most interesting sub plots of the 2009 season.
This is without a doubt a make or break year for Heikki. Last season he underperformed. There is no doubt the talent is there, but he has to seriously up his game. He can’t afford to be threatened by who his team mate is. He has to dig deep, and fight harder than ever before in 2009.
He needs to ensure, that he stakes his claim within the team right from the start of the season. He simply has to make a much better start to the season than he did last year. He can’t let all the momentum run Lewis’s way early on.
He needs to show Mclaren that they have two exceptional drivers, not just one. One thing that may swing in Heikki’s favour is that he has had experience of driving a difficult car (with Renault in 2007).
This may give a Heikki a small advantage over Hamilton. If Heikki doesn’t perform in 2009 his Mclaren career will surely be over. He simply has to give Lewis something to think about. Nothing less will be sufficient.
Bourdais deserved more from last season. Once he adapted to the Toro Rosso he showed great speed. He should have got great results in Italy, Spa and Belgium but luck eluded him.
By the end of the season, he wasn’t actually that far away from Sebastien Vettel’s pace. In 2009, I am tipping him to be a major surprise.
In 2009, the car should really suit him. He will be driving on slick tyres which he drove on in Champcar.
Also in Champcar he was used to cars with more emphasis on mechanical grip. He has a very inexperienced team mate, so he will very much be the man the team relies on. He will show the F1 paddock in 2009 why he won four Champcar titles.
In Champcar, he also used the “the push to pass” button. If Toro Rosso use KERs this season, he may be well prepared on how to make the most of it. Expect a few podiums from Bourdais in 2009.
Buemi’s signature for Toro Rosso was quite a surprise. Buemi is extremely inexperienced and didn’t figure heavily in the GP2 title race. It’s true he won twice in GP2 in 2008. Although these both came in the sprint races, where he took advantage of the reverse grid system.
However, he seems very well grounded, and in no doubt how big his challenge is in 2009. He seems to be quite bright and intelligent, and willing to put as much work into it as it needs. He has already put a lot of miles in already.
Whilst he won’t have a brilliant season, I don’t think he will be a complete flop as some have already predicted. He will have a solid, but not spectacular, debut season. Whether it will be enough to convince the F1 paddock that he deserves to be around for many seasons to come remains to be seen.