Whilst Honda has made a point of congratulating Brawn GP on its outstanding success in the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix last weekend, rival team owner Vijay Mallya has attempted to throw cold water over the performance by suggesting that it was hardly a David vs Goliath scenario.
After being put up for sale by parent company Honda back in December as a – some have said knee-jerk – reaction to falling car sales precipitated by the current global credit crunch and poor on-track return for its considerable investment in the top flight, the Brackley-based concern was thought unlikely to see out the winter, let alone make the starting grid Down Under.
Not only did the team pull through, however, but indeed it has thus far stunned paddock observers by dominating pre-season testing and the opening race of the campaign in Melbourne with a one-two for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, making Brawn GP the first Formula 1 entrant since Mercedes-Benz with the legendary Juan-Manuel Fangio all the way back in 1954 to have secured both pole position and victory on its top flight debut.
All concerned hailed the result a 'fairytale' after the nightmare of the preceding months, and attributed the incredible pace of the BGP 001 to its new Mercedes engine and the fact that the team began development of its 2009 challenger earlier than any of its rivals – sacrificing short-term pain for long-term gain.
Mallya, though, has suggested that the success was in large part aided by Honda's reputed £147 million spend on its F1 operation last year – and as such, he underlined, it is hardly fair to compare the showing of a squad that has enjoyed considerable manufacturer backing in the past with that of perennial tail-ending Silverstone-based minnows Force India, which he claims is a privateer outfit in the very truest sense of the word and for whom Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella were classified respectively just ninth and eleventh in Oz.
“I know that Ross [Brawn] dumped the 2008 car early on and has spent almost a year developing the 2009 car,” the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire is quoted as having said by F1SA
, “with the benefit of a full-scale wind tunnel and all the other facilities available at Brackley.
“That car has had a huge amount of technical and financial resources thrown at it, so I wouldn't say that it's fair to compare the Brawn GP car's performance with an independent team.”