Monday, 19 October 2009

British World Beaters

Jenson Button has been crowned the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion. Well, I say crowned, but there was no formal recognition of his achievement at Interlagos today. Instead, there were rather chaotic scenes as he celebrated with his engineers, family and the world's media while the race winner, Mark Webber, climbed onto the podium to distinctly muted response!

In addition to the Button's triumph, his team, Brawn GP also won, leading to some touching scenes as the perpetually cool and collected Ross Brawn let the emotion get the better of him. As well as thanking all the engineers and staff of the team, he also paid tribute to the work of 200 staff who had to be laid off early in the season, which was a lovely touch.

It has been a fairytale story - the team which was put up for sale by Honda just over a year ago storming into an early and commanding lead which no other team or driver could consistently match, with the clinching of the two titles with a race in hand. This story has also, however, been much rehearsed, so I shall move on...

There is another fairytale story, though. The story of a man who, in his previous 9 years in Formula 1 had won just 1 race. A man who, while showing great promise as a driver (including finishing 3rd in 2004 had never really had a car able to compete with the powerhouses of Ferrari and McLaren.

Formula 1 is a team sport, and a marathon. It is not sufficient to be a good driver or to have a good car. What is required is consistency - a car which can deliver the goods, a driver who is on form, slick pit-stops, insightful strategy. Luck plays a part, and many say that Jenson has had a number of lucky races. Over the piste, however, luck has a habit of working both ways and luck alone does not deliver world champions.

There are others who feel the title is less deserved as the bulk of Button's points came in the first 7 races when Brawn dominated. This is a weak argument - Usain Bolt's wins aren't less celebrated because he does the bulk of the work in the first 60 metres. Those people making that argument have no alternative. Indeed, the alternative method preferred by Bernie Ecclestone (head of F1) is a to select the winner based on most races won. That would make the 2009 champion.... Jenson Button!

His achievement makes him the 10th Brit to win Formula 1, following in the footsteps of past greats such as Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart and, of course, directly succeeding Lewis Hamilton.

So here's a toast (Cider, as he's a Somerset lad) to the latest British champ - and here's hoping for another one next year!


P.S. Britain won another World Championship today - Beth Tweddle took Gold in the Floor event at the O2.


Stephen Chapman... said...


Far better than my posting - bloody showoff!


oneexwidow said...

Yes, but yours had pretty pictures! :-p