News and views on motorsports

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Brawn, Mercedes and Jenson Button

Lets face it. No matter what you may say, Jenson is a pretty talented individual. The fact is he is the world champion and such victories aren't easy to come by.

So now, world title in hand, he jumps to McLaren. Given McLaren's sparkling end of year form some might say thats a pretty good move until you consider that Mercedes' considerable resources are now going the other way to Brawn. If Ross Brawn is to be believed the second half of the season saw Brawn shift its efforts to the 2010 challenger leaving the team to take a calculated gamble on a rear guard action all the way to both championships.

Now with everyone's efforts squarely on 2010 and with Mercedes now on board, the newly named Mercedes Benz GP team will indeed be a formidable platform. In fact, money or no money, if championships are his main concern, thats where Jenson should have stayed. I believe, given Ross Brawn's considerable technical management skills combined with unparalleled tactics, Jenson would have been in a great position to take even more championships. Alright, so he might argue that being the world champion entitles him to more money. Well, a multiple world champion would get even more. Certainly I think Mercedes would have been more than pleased to sign a bigger paycheck for the future.

Ultimately Jenson must ask the question. Is it the money or world titles that are more important? Of course, I am not absolutely saying that McLaren won't be a main challenger for the championship. Arguably they can. But will their cars be as quick this year without the KERS cheat?

More so in the long run, given the technical organisation of Brawn and the financial firepower of Mercedes, this is the team of the future. Ultimately with the ability to emulate the great juggernaut Mercedes teams of the past. Not for nothing are Mercedes Benz making Brawn the new works team and making them the official silver arrows.

Well okay then. So McLaren will still be battling it out for the title next year. The question is, can Jenson take on the Hamiltons? Most importantly can he and his dad handle the ever loathsome train driver who no doubt is clearing the decks for some serious politicking within the team? Most people have said the Jenson would stand no chance against McLaren's golden boy. Well, lets see shall we?

I am well aware that Jenson has in the past lost out to his teammates. He lost out badly to Giancarlo Fisichella at Benetton and in 2008 lost out to Rubens. But given a perfect car, Jenson can and does perform. So lets see. Perhaps that smooth style of his can be faster over race distance rather than the tyre chomping style of Hamilshit. This is particularly important for next year, the ban on refueling and thus greater weight carried by the cars throughout the race will call for an emphasis of tyre management. And Hamilshit as we know is particularly aggressive on his rubber.

Moving back to Mercedes and Brawn. I think ultimately, Mercedes would like to be associated with a team thats focused absolutely on the racing as Brawn GP was. Moreover, I think you cannot but be impressed with the way the team has performed. Alright, so the car was developed with Honda money but nevertheless the car itself is the product of the team. And here is a team that within two years of Ross Brawn coming on board managed to take the title. Mercedes have had 15 years with McLaren. Three driver's titles is not bad but only if you don't compare it to Ferrari's achievements in that time. Wait a minute! Who was the main technical architect of all that success at Maranello again?

Pitpass and others are so fond of playing down the role of the individual. Particularly the role of so called "superstar" technical directors and designers. Well, look at it this way. The two consistently fastest cars of the year, Brawn and Red Bull, were the product of two very gifted in individuals. And the team that absolutely embodied the corporate design by committee ethos, Toyota, fell out of Formula 1 big losers. There still is a need of strong technical leadership. I do hope that Mercedes will allow this to continue under Ross Brawn.

You know what I'd really like to see? Adrian Newey at Mercedes Brawn. If they both could work together, can you imagine? The team would be nigh invicible. I reckon they'd win every single race of the season. I know its very unlikely to happen, Adrian Newey at Mercedes I mean. But hey, last year I would never have imagined Jenson Button in a McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen being jobless. Strange things can happen in grand prix racing.