Current F1 World Championship leader Jenson Button has contended that Red Bull Racing's advantage at Silverstone was not as significant as it appeared – with Ross Brawn arguing that given the circumstances, the result 'could have been a lot worse'.
The Frome-born ace saw his lead in the title chase over British Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel reduced from 32 points to 25, with 90 remaining up for grabs before season's end. That came at the end of a frustrating weekend in front of his adoring home fans, in which cool temperatures and tyre-warming woes left him unable to qualify or finish any higher than sixth, despite finally seeming to unlock some decent pace out of his Mercedes-powered BGP 001 in the race's closing stages.
That was in stark contrast to Vettel, who was barely troubled on his way to an unchallenged victory – the young German's second of the 2009 campaign – as Red Bull's RB5 proved perfectly-matched to the high-speed turns and fast, flowing nature of the popular Northants circuit and benefitted from a range of aerodynamic updates, most notably an innovative triple-diffuser.
Whilst some – former triple world champion Niki Lauda and Brawn GP test driver Alex Wurz amongst them – have hinted at a turning of the tide as the halfway point approaches [see separate story – click here
], Button is confident that Brawn GP will be rapidly back on-form in the German Grand Prix in just over a fortnight's time, and that Silverstone was merely an example of damage limitation in getting the best out of a bad situation.
“On the hard tyre, the car didn't work – I just couldn't get any temperature” the 29-year-old explained. “I had a terrible start; [Jarno] Trulli in front got a terrible getaway, as they (Toyota) normally do, and I had nowhere to go. I tried to go to the inside, but that wasn't there, and the outside was full so I was stuck, and everybody just shot by on the outside.
“In the first stint I slowed up a little bit behind Trulli, just to see what times I could do, and I was eight tenths to a second quicker than him – but you still can't overtake. I was able to jump two of them in the pit-stop, but [Felipe] Massa got me because he was going very long. I could reel in [Nico] Rosberg and Massa at the end of the race like they were stood still, but if you don't get the qualifying right – which I didn't – you're stuck, and with a bad start that's where it is. I think it showed that we had good pace on the soft tyre, though; I don't know what it was like compared to my team-mate, but compared to Rosberg and Massa the pace in the last stint was phenomenal – we had a good car.
“Vettel gained seven points on me, which is obviously not good, but I got three points on a weekend where we weren't very strong. We've just got to hope that the Nürburgring is a bit warmer than here. They (Red Bull) are going to be very quick – they've got a quick car and the aero package has helped them a lot – but I don't think [the gap] is as big as it looks; it's just that our car is not working in these temperatures.”
Those sentiments were broadly echoed by the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn, who was adamant that the outcome had 'absolutely not' been a disaster and was, in the light of the troubles that the squad faced, 'probably as good as it was going to get'. He too admitted to far higher hopes for Germany, where Button will bid to get his own back on Vettel's home turf.
“I think it's a track that moved much more towards their car,” the Englishman opined of the 'Home of British Motor Racing'. “They've obviously made a good step forward and they've always had a good car, but it's a track for instance where there's no braking, and our car is very good on braking stability. We don't have that here, and we really did struggle with tyre temperature, which again is an issue with the braking – if we don't have braking energy going in, we struggle with the tyres.
“It was only really the last set that Jenson managed to get some heat into and then the pace picked up – but we weren't a match for Red Bull. They've done a great job, and we have to come back at the Nürburgring; you have days when you just have to swallow it and come back. It could have been a lot worse, that's for sure.”