Button displaying ‘traits of Schumacher’

May 27, 2009

Much has been eulogised about the Brackley-based outfit since the re-birth of the Honda F1 team as Brawn GP. The most surprising recent historical reference centred on Jenson Button’s confident driving style. His smooth, almost effortless negotiation of the tight corners of Monaco showed the Formula One world that his status of champion in waiting is not an exaggeration of his talent.

Ross Brawn, the man nicknamed the ‘Big Bear’, is now the Briton’s mentor at Brawn GP but has had a history of successful drivers beneath him. Not least Michael Schumacher, the man who is attributed with changing the face of modern F1. Brawn’s influence on the German’s career is often understated in the media, but his tactical nous, technical intelligence and his desire to win propelled Schumacher’s career to the arguably unreachable heights of any other driver in the future.

With veteran Rubens Barrichello by his side, or at least slightly behind him, Button has the perfect launch pad to attack his final assault on the F1 Drivers’ title. Take Monaco for example where Kimi Räikkönen was Jenson Button’s primary competition. Barrichello leapt off the line to squeeze past Räikkönen into Ste Devote and protect his team mate from the charging Prancing Horse. Not only this, but he drove his car so wide that when his rear tyres degraded and his lap times pushed 1m 20s, the Finn could not slip past to launch his attack on Button, now 9 seconds ahead of the chasing pair.

Throughout the race, Button delivered 80% of his lap times within 0.4 seconds of each other until he needed to push on and gain an advantage ahead of his second pit stop, where he shaved 0.8 seconds off his fastest lap and kept it there for the next 5 laps. With the very best car on the grid, the best team alongside him and arguably the most inspirational man on the pit wall with him, is there any reason why Jenson Button cannot claim his first Drivers’ World Title?

The answer to this is still up for debate and will presumably only be answered after the chequered flag falls at the Yas Marina circuit in November. The facts, however, remain that Herr Schumacher claimed 7 World Titles, set numerous records and remains one of the most iconic F1 personalities even 3 years after his departure from the grid.

There is little doubt that Button has the qualities of a World Champion – his driving style is easy on his tyres, smooth to watch and supremely consistent, but Schumacher had something else. He had the aura of a Champion that lifted his entire team as he strode purposefully through his garage. He had the ability to deliver quick lap after quick lap that simultaneously lifted and educated his team.

Perhaps Button can be likened to Schumacher in his driving style and the team around him, but the aura of a Champion that comes with pole positions and victories still eludes the Briton. The paddock can see it, however, and it is growing with every lap he drives as Championship leader, owing in no small part to the Midas touch of F1’s ‘Big Bear’.


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