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GP Week : Issue 60
>>F1VALENCIA Nico The curious case of the available Button THE rumours over the 2010 driver market took an interesting twist this weekend when championship-leader Jenson Button confirmed that he was essentially open to offers, when quizzed about where he would be driving next season in the FIA Press Conference. It is an interesting twist on many levels, but most of all because he didn’t once indicate that he wanted to stay at BrawnGP, the team that has handed him the best F1 car he’s possibly ever driven, and certainly the strongest chance he’s ever had of winning the World Championship. But I get it. I can completely understand his comments, or lack of, in regard to the team. Because, as is becoming frighteningly obvious, the chances of Brawn producing another car as good as the BGP001 in 2010 are small, and getting slimmer by the day. It was while walking down the pit-lane on arrival in Valencia that a colleague and I got chatting about Brawn. How was it, we asked ourselves, that in a season in which their car has been the class of the field and leading the championship from Day 1, the team has been unable to find any sponsors? I mean, seriously? Sure the world of big business ‘aint what it was a few years ago, but there are still investors out there. There are still companies who want to be involved in high profile sporting events. And the big bucks usually flow to where the successful reside. So why not to Brawn? The problem for Brawn, it would seem, is that while they were forced to cut out some of the dead wood over the winter, they failed to do so in the one of the key areas of the team whose ineffectiveness had led to its demise as its previous incarnation, Honda. The earthdreams scheme was a laughable failure courtesy of Nineteen Management, but it had been born out of the failure of the team’s sponsorship department to replace Lucky Strike when BAT WIll BUxton GPWeek Editor jumped ship at the end of 2006. While in 2009 the team may have landed Virgin’s logos on the car, the deal is for comparative peanuts and after faffing around and failing to maximise on the potential of what could have been a mega deal, Brawn appears to have lost the interest of Richard Branson and his millions in favour of Manor in 2010. So, with few sponsors and little money coming in, how is the team supposed to develop this year’s car, let alone produce a championship contender for 2010? Is it any wonder that Jenson is thinking it might be a good idea to look elsewhere? His stock is as high as it has ever been and, short of winning the title it is as high as it may ever get. We find ourselves at one of the most fascinating times in recent memory when it comes to driver moves. Teams have pulled out, new teams are joining and almost every one of them has at least one seat believed to be up for grabs. Why the hell not get out there and see what you can get? Because, unless Brawn is getting spoon fed money by a silent and mysterious benefactor that nobody has any idea exists, the team could find itself staring at the awful prospect of yo-yoing its way straight back to fighting over the final row of the grid. And if the team can’t get sponsors when it’s winning, it’ll be completely screwed when it’s not. Pos # Driver ForMUla 1 round 11 ValEncIa Team 1 23 Rubens Barrichello 2 1 3 4 4 2 Lewis Hamilton Kimi Räikkönen 5 16 Nico Rosberg 6 7 Fernando Alonso 7 22 Jenson Button 8 5 Robert Kubica 9 14 Mark Webber 10 20 Adrian Sutil 11 6 Nick Heidfeld Jarno Trulli 14 10 Timo Glock 15 8 Brawn-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes Ferrari Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes Williams-Toyota Renault Brawn-Mercedes BMW Sauber RBR-Renault Laps Time 57 1:35:51.289s 57 +2.3s 57 +15.9s 57 +20.0s 57 +20.8s 57 +27.7s 57 +34.9s 57 +36.6s 57 +44.9s Force India-Mercedes 57 +47.9s BMW Sauber Romain Grosjean 16 11 Jaime Alguersuari 17 3 Luca Badoer Toyota Toyota Renault 57 +48.8s 12 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 57 +63.6s 13 9 STR-Ferrari Ferrari 18 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota Ret 12 Sebastien Buemi Ret 15 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari RBR-Renault 57 +64.5s 57 +86.5s 57 +91.7s 56 +1 Lap 56 +1 Lap 53 +4 Laps 41 Brakes 23 Engine Grid 3 1 6 2 7 8 5 10 9 12 11 16 18 13 14 19 20 17 15 4 Points – Drivers: Button 72, Barrichello 54, Webber 51.5, Vettel 54, Rosberg 29.5, Hamilton 27, Raikkonen 24, Trulli 22.5, Massa 22, Glock 16, Alonso 16. Manufacturers: Brawn 126, Red Bull 98.5, Ferrari 46, McLaren 41, Toyota 38.5, Williams-Toyota 29.5, Renault 16, BMW Sauber 9, Toro Rosso 5. 29 opinion