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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Brawn GP Part of the Leading Group

Have Brawn GP Staked a Claim to Be Part of this Leading Group?

Brawn GP have been one of the stories of testing this week. The car has been extremely fast straight out of the box. Even better, the car has proved to be very reliable. Ross Brawn and his two drivers, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, must be feeling pretty ecstatic right now.

On Wednesday, Button set a low 1:19 and Barrichello on Thursdays managed to sneak into the 1:18s. Even if these laps are glory/sponsor seeking laps, these times are fast by anyone’s standards. They are quicker than the time set in Q2 of the Spanish GP last season. It’s obvious that Brawn GP have a very quick car on their hands. Not only do they look good in low fuel trim, but their long runs have been mighty as well.

Remember that this is the car Honda started building all the way back in 2007. They gave up completely on 2008 before the season even started. Ross Brawn focused entirely—and put a lot of Honda’s cash—into building this car. They have still been developing the car during the winter, even with all the uncertainty of the team’s future. Therefore, there was always a good chance this was going to be a very fast car, and it most certainly is.

A question mark will hang over whether they can keep up the development pace over the whole season. I think they have a good chance. Honda has given Ross Brawn 100 million pounds to keep the team alive, as opposed to having to pay that amount to make all the staff redundant. The team has also been around 40 to 50 million pounds in commercial, and TV revenue money from Bernie Ecclestone.

So for this season at least, Brawn GP have a very healthy budget on which to operate. I am sure Ross Brawn will make use of every penny. He is very talented and will run a very efficient operation. It will be very much like the Renault operation, who, despite having less funds than Mclaren and Ferrari, beat them both to consecutive championships back in 2005 and 2006.

Paul Murtagh and I said in our preview of Brawn GP that podiums and points were possible. I think that will definitely happen now. Not only that, but they have now got a genuine chance of winning in Melbourne. Some experts believe the Brawn GP car is the class of the field; even Felipe Massa admitted his Ferrari couldn’t do lap times as fast as Brawn has been producing. For Felipe Massa to actually come out and say that is quite a statement. Fernando Alonso has also come out, and said that Brawn GP’s pace is for real.

Brawn GP has most certainly been the biggest story in Barcelona this week. Whether they perform in Melbourne is an entirely different matter, but the signs look as if they could be on for a great start to the season. And as already touched on, it’s not as if they don’t have the funds this season, with the team still getting Honda money.

Just think: Not so long ago Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello’s careers were in grave danger. Now they both have a car, which has the potential to be at the front of the grid. It’s strange how quickly things can change in the world of Formula One.

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