Brazilian Grand Prix 2009 - 26/10/09

It´s the Brazilian Grand Prix and the home favourite, the title challenger, started on pole position. The Englishman in car 22 is within touching distance of his first world championship. Inevitably it ends in heartbreak for the thousands of Paulistas gathered there to cheer on He Who Would Emulate Ayrton. The Englishman in his British car and its German heart finished 5th, finally having passed the labouring but impressive and combative Toyota, but behind the flying young German wonderkid and his energy drink, the star of the future. That was 2008.

In 2009, history saw fit to shatter those collected hearts once more as Jenson Button driving a Brawn Mercedes joined Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren Mercedes on the champions´ list. This was no cruise-to-collect drive though, Button forcefully and purposefully overcame the obstacles of his own creation to seal the title in resonating fashion. Some called it a champion’s drive, and certainly pulling off that many aggressive overtaking moves with so much at stake, climbing from 14th to 5th in the process was the mark of a tremendous driver. However, in a slightly alternate championship context it could have been viewed so differently. After all, without Barrichello’s puncture, all 3 of Button’s title rivals would have finished ahead of him with Vettel even getting in front having started behind.

As it was though, the championship situation was such that Jenson only needed to come home with a handful of points to wrap up the prize, and instead he blasted his way through the midfield and into respectable points. Despite Rubens starting on pole and scampering away, despite Webber’s magnificent chase and overhaul of Barrichello, despite Hamilton’s incredible rise from 17th to 3rd, Jenson hogged the camera and thrilled with his textbook manoeuvres which is more than can be said for Trulli and Sutil, Rubens and Lewis, Kobayashi and Nakajima. Button’s recent woeful qualifying performances remain the sole question mark over an otherwise faultless campaign.

How deserving Button is of the title has somehow become a topic of debate in the latter half of the year. Undoubtedly, world champions in their hallmark season are expected to challenge for race wins at practically every meeting, but Button’s pace in qualifying has restricted him to midfield starts and mountains to climb on race day. A string of 9 races yielding only one podium stands in stark contrast to six wins out of seven races at the start of the season. Nevertheless, mountains he has climbed. Button has on nearly every occasion moved forward during the race and kept out of trouble, constantly putting pressure on his title rivals to push it as far as it can go because they know Jenson will always score points and barring the odd Grosjean, finish.

Facts are nice, they can support either side of the argument for a worthy champion. As well as the aforementioned downturn in race victories, the facts show that in his championship season Button has so far won more races and had more fastest laps than Hamilton did in 2008, he’s had fewer penalties, he hasn’t caused any controversial accidents or performed any questionable race antics. As expected, Hamilton’s qualifying record is better in his championship year than Button’s, 7 poles to 4. This season alone Button has twice as many wins as his nearest competitor (Vettel), the same number of poles and fastest laps as his nearest competitor (Vettel), but you know what they say about statistics. The overall picture, and fact, is that Jenson Button is the most deserving recipient of the World Championship this year. How that stacks up against previous world championship campaigns by drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen however, is a different story.

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