Brawn GP may have seen its early-season dominance of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship brought to a shuddering halt by Red Bull Racing in the Chinese Grand Prix at the weekend, but Ross Brawn admitted that to be disappointed with third and fourth places is no bad thing at all...
Indeed, it was only a matter of months ago that it looked as if the erstwhile Honda F1 outfit would not even make the starting grid, so to have two pole positions, two victories and two further rostrum finishes to its name from the opening three grands prix is little short of a miracle by conventional standards.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello may not have been able to live with the sheer wet-weather pace of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in Shanghai – the former coming home more than half a minute adrift of the second of the Red Bulls at the chequered flag, and Barrichello crossing the line almost 20 seconds in arrears further still, having suffered from brake warm-up issues early on that enabled his team-mate to move past into third – but Brawn GP still took away eleven points from the weekend after an extremely solid and controlled showing in treacherous conditions.
“Another dramatic race to continue what is turning out to be a very exciting 2009 Formula 1 season,” summarised the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn. “Jenson and Rubens did an excellent job to bring the cars home in the difficult conditions, which combined with a solid team performance over the whole weekend enabled us to score as many points as possible. It's a good world championship position.
“We had a good strategy, with both drivers fuelled long for their first stints which allowed us to bridge the gap to the leaders. However, on similar fuel Vettel and Webber were then able to pull away. We weren't quite quick enough; particularly when the water was very heavy, the drivers found it quite difficult.
“We were struggling with getting temperature into the tyres after the safety car came in, and that may have been a factor, because when the car went out with new tyres on after the pit-stop it didn't seem too bad and when we could get temperature in the tyres it worked okay.
“Red Bull did a great job and we weren't quite good enough, but the fact that we're disappointed with third and fourth says a lot. Congratulations to Red Bull for their one-two performance. We know from Australia what a fantastic feeling that achievement is, and I'm sure they will enjoy every minute of it. Our focus now turns to Bahrain next weekend for what will hopefully be a dry race.”
Barrichello may have set the fastest lap of the grand prix – almost a full second quicker than Button's best effort – but the Brazilian's overall performance was patchy, as he again failed to keep pace with the sister car for the third outing in succession, and now trails the Briton by six points in the drivers' title chase.
From the 36-year-old's radio comments to the team, Brawn joked that 'I think Rubens thought the FIA ought to have been out there driving', before adding that adapting to such circumstances is 'what they get paid for...'
“It was a tough race in very challenging conditions,” reflected Barrichello, the most experienced driver in the top flight's official 59-year history. “I only had three brake discs working on my car for the first 19 laps, which made it even more difficult for me to keep the car on the road.
“Thankfully the problem resolved itself when the brakes heated up during my first pit-stop and I had good pace from then, but unfortunately it was a bit too late. However, we got the car to the end of the race in difficult circumstances and I scored as many points as I could have done, so we have to be happy with that.”