2009 Formula 1 World Championship leaders and title favourites Jenson Button and Brawn GP are refusing to rest on their laurels as the circus arrives in Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend – predicting an earnest challenge from their competitors around one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar.
Heading into the seventh round of the season, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus channel, Button holds a 16-point advantage over team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the chase for the crown, with the experienced Brazilian for his part twelve points ahead of the first non-Brawn driver, Red Bull Racing ace Sebastian Vettel.
Five triumphs and four further rostrum finishes from the opening six races have carried Brawn 43.5 points clear of nearest pursuer Red Bull – or, to put it another way, counting 86 points to its Milton Keynes-based rival's 42.5. A crushing one-two in the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix last time out only served to drive home the ex-Honda F1 outfit's dominance this year – and a similar result around the anti-clockwise, undulating, physical and technical Istanbul Park Circuit would be just what the doctor ordered.
“After a week back at the factory in Brackley to reflect on our success in Monaco, the team is now looking forward to our next challenge in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul this weekend,” reflected team principal Ross Brawn. “The Monaco Grand Prix was a wonderful weekend, with Jenson and Rubens, the team and our engine partner Mercedes-Benz [all] performing at the top of their game to bring home our third one-two finish of the season.
“However, Monaco is a unique track and we know that our competitors will be very strong in Turkey this weekend. Development work on the BGP 001 has continued apace at the factory, and we will be bringing a new front wing to Turkey along with some aerodynamic updates and new rear suspension elements.
“Istanbul Park is a thoroughly modern race track, which presents an interesting engineering challenge to get the best out of the car through the high-speed sections and the slower turns at the end of the lap. It's hard to believe that we are already over a third of the way through this season – and it's been a very intense but immensely rewarding start for the Brawn GP team.”
It has arguably been even more so for Button, who after two years in the doldrums and just one victory under his belt from 153 starts in the top flight prior to the beginning of the current campaign, now finally has the machinery underneath him capable of doing justice to his prodigious raw talent. The British star has twice finished inside the top five in Turkey in four previous appearances.
Barrichello, by contrast, has scored just a single marker there, courtesy of eighth place back in 2006, but both drivers are clearly enthusiastic about taking to the track again around what is generally viewed as one of the most popular circuits of the season.
“The Turkish Grand Prix is always a race that I look forward to,” underlined Button, “as I really enjoy driving the Istanbul Park circuit and have been quite competitive there in the past. Hermann Tilke did a great job with the layout of the track, and the changes in gradient are great fun and quite challenging for the drivers. We've seen some excellent racing at Istanbul Park, with good overtaking opportunities at turns one and three.