F12009: Brawn GP Preview

F12009: Brawn GP Preview

The off-season for Brawn GP has certainly been a rollercoaster of doubt, excitement and speculation. For months we all waited to see what would happen to the Honda team after their announcement to withdraw from the Formula One championship, and just as everything appeared to be falling apart, a management buy-out saved the squad and kept the tally of ten teams on the grid. But will Brawn be fighting for survival in 2009, or will they be fighting for the championship?

Brawn GP have done very little running in the off-season in comparison to their rivals. They spent much of the winter in the Brackley factory dealing with various companies and wealthy individuals who were interested in buying the team. Throughout all this time, no car made its way to a circuit for testing, and the staff at Brackley feared their jobs might be lost.

However, as soon as the announcement that Ross Brawn had struck a deal with Honda to buy the squad, everything suddenly went into overdrive. The team ran privately at Silverstone before heading to Spain for the group tests at Barcelona and Jerez. And I don’t think anybody expected to see what they saw.

It would appear that the Brawn BGP 001 is pretty quick. This is something quite incredible when you consider the major shakeup in the technical regulations that has occurred this year. With such a change in the way the cars are designed, most teams were anxious to get as much running as possible. However, on the first day of the Barcelona group test, Button managed an astonishing fourth fastest time, just 0.2s shy of Trulli’s Toyota.

From there it just got better for the team. Third on day two, fastest on days three and four. As you could imagine, Brawn very quickly became the talking point of the final sessions. Although their outright pace may not be as superior as the large margins may suggest, the new car doesn’t look overly shabby.

In Jerez, Barrichello and Button maintained a dominant presence and both drivers appeared satisfied with the progress being made to the car. They may have been showboating in order to attract sponsors or just generate some hype, but some journalists who attended the tests also noted that the BGP 001 looked consistently quick over longer runs.

With a Mercedes engine for 2009 and a chassis that not only looks gorgeous, but appears to be performing well, we could see a sharp improvement over the disappointing 2008 campaign when the team were owned by Honda.

In keeping Jenson Button they have retained a favourite among many of the fans, and ensured this season will not be the first with only one Briton competing. And by re-signing Rubens Barrichello, they have kept a safe and steady pair of hands in the second chassis. Barrichello is experienced and will help the team iron out any kinks with the car.

So what can we expect from Brawn in Melbourne? Well, Bernie Ecclestone is excited. When the new points system was announced in March, Ecclestone used Button as example of how the idea of race wins equals championship could benefit the sport. If the Brawn really is as quick as the test times suggest, Jenson and Rubens should be fighting for victories in the first fly-aways. From there on in, things may not be as easy due to the larger budgeted outfits ramping up development.

Personally, I’m yet convinced of the Brawn’s pace, but it certainly is very exciting. Not only have the careers of two drivers and a factory full of staff been saved, but the reinvigorated team appear to be able to fight for points.

It’s already been said many times over, but it is worth repeating: I bet Honda are kicking themselves right now.

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6 comments

  • I’d really love for their speed to be real but somehow I’m just not sure. Testing is a funny old thing, the Brawn has every reason to have run light in its quest for attention and hopefully sponsors. And who could blame them? but they aren’t the only ones playing the game.

    I found it very interesting how much the McLaren picked up the pace all of a sudden when all the other teams had left for Oz, was that truly down to their new aero package or just sandbagging enough so the other teams will be put off guard. Then, when it’s too late to do anything about it show your true pace.

    Would be even better if it turned out that the Brawn was actually faster still, hope they get a decent points haul in Oz.

  • Sounds funny, but I wonder what the paint job/overalls will look like. If Jenson and/or Rubens make it onto the podium (very good chance, I am happy to say) will we see a Stewart-style “whiteout” in Oz?

  • How cool would it be to see Brawn on the podium with ferrari and williams or even Beemers?

  • […] Throughout most of winter testing, BMW Sauber impressed me and speculation is that they maybe second behind Ferrari in the ‘who’s the best’ polls. Then came Brawn GP and boy did they come. Straight out of the factory and onto the track they were fast, but was that too good to be true? They had limited testing after all, but remained fastest until all of their testing was done. Is Brawn GP a real threat? Will they give BMW Sauber more competition? […]

  • The Brawn did it today!

    A superb race and 1st and 2st places to the Brawn GP!!

    Bravo!

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