Brawn GP team-mates Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will run numbers previously expected to be unused in 2009 following a protest by the Force India team.

The Brackley operation had initially expected to inherit the numbers 18 and 19 'earned' by the now defunct Honda team in 2008, but were moved to the numerical back of the field - numbers 20 and 21 - on the supposedly final entry list issued by the FIA in the run-up to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix

However, with its promotional and merchandising effort in full swing on the eve of the new campaign, Force India complained that the switch should not have taken place and drivers Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella were promptly reinstated to 20 and 21 respectively.

However, determined to emphasise Brawn's existence as a 'new entrant', the team was not returned to its original slot on the entry list, but was instead handed the numbers 22 and 23 to tie in with its expected place at the end of the F1 pit-lane. As a result, 18 and 19 have joined 13 on the sidelines for 2009, the supposedly 'unlucky' number rarely used in international motorsport.

Both Button and Barrichello, meanwhile, are sporting variations on their usual helmet designs in Melbourne, to tie in with the Brawn team's interim colour scheme.

Button's instantly recognisable variation on the Union Jack, featuring his initials, now appears in yellow and black, while Barrichello's long-standing design has adopted similar colours, although the change is not unusual for the Brazilian, who has run various versions at selected races over the years.

More startling, however, are the bright yellow 'hubcaps' that have appeared on the two BGP001s in opening practice - something that will hopefully disappear at future races should the anticipated tie-up with Richard Branson's Virgin group be confirmed in the paddock in the next 24 hours.



Loading Comments...