Some time ago I posted that every point could count in this year’s Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship, and yesterday at Interlagos Jenson Button proved the point by tigering his way to four more of them and thereby keeping a lead of more than ten points over his nearest challenger – who is now Sebastian Vettel – to ensure he is World Champion for 2009. His team, Brawn GP, also won the Constructors’ Championship by ensuring that they are more than 18 points (a one-two finish) ahead of the competition, which is headed by Vettel’s team, Red Bull Racing.
Button’s six wins netted him sixty points, but all those bits-and-bats finishes have put more than another twenty on top of that, and that has made the difference. He has needed to keep chipping away as the opposition has caught up on Brawn’s early season advantage.
The Beeb’s coverage pointed out that Brawn were the first team to net the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships in their first season, which is correct, but the real parallel is with Ken Tyrrell’s team in 1971. Tyrrell had entered his own team in 1970 – he and Jackie Stewart had little choice, as their previous Matra chassis was no longer available with the engine they wanted – but with the solid yet increasingly uncompetitive March 701. They didn’t field their own car until the end of the season, and in their first full season with their own machinery, they won seven Grands Prix.
That might not seem a lot nowadays, but in 1971 there were only eleven races in the season. Tyrrell were way ahead of the opposition, but it was to be their only Constructors’ crown. Will that be the fate of Ross Brawn?