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Rediff.com  » Sports » Triumphant Button heads into the unknown

Triumphant Button heads into the unknown

April 28, 2009 12:22 IST

After winning three of the first four races of the Formula One season in Asia and the Middle East, Jenson Button heads back to Europe and into the unknown.

The championship-leading Briton has been the quickest and most consistent driver so far but, as McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton showed on Bahrain on Sunday, the rest are picking up the pace.

Button's Brawn GP team had an early advantage with a controversial rear diffuser which others first tried in vain to outlaw and are now busy copying.

By the time the 10 teams gather again in Barcelona for next week's Spanish Grand Prix, the new world order may have changed again.

"We've had four races: they've been pretty important to us, especially at the start of the season when people have got reliability issues or are making mistakes," said Button, winner in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain as well as third in China.

"When we get to Europe, we don't know where anyone is going to be," he added.

Brawn have significant new developments coming to their battle-scarred car for the Circuit de Catalunya but so too do struggling champions Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW-Sauber.

With testing banned during the season, the first real evidence of how successful any of them are will come next week in Friday practice.

REFRESHING CHANGE

"We have an upgrade coming for Barcelona, I just hope it's enough," said Button. "We have to wait and see. Nobody knows.

"There's so much change already in the sport and going back to Europe it's going to be even more change," he added. "I think that's what this sport needed and I think we've got it."

Brawn and Red Bull, one-two winners in China, certainly represent a refreshing change for the sport after years of domination by Ferrari and McLaren.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is a fresh-faced new talent with bags of character and Button is getting his long overdue rewards after years of toil among the backmarkers with now-departed Honda.

Toyota, still without a win since their debut in 2002, are coming more to the fore with first and second on the Bahrain starting grid.

Scratch the surface, however, and the same old rivalries are still very much in play.

Adrian Newey, the design genius behind the Red Bull, was Brawn GP owner Ross Brawn's opposite number when the two were at McLaren and Ferrari respectively during the Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher era.

The first stage of the season has in many respects looked like a re-run of the old Newey-Brawn duel with different coloured cars.

Mercedes-powered Brawn GP are also Honda's successors and owe many of their achievements to Honda's massive investment over the last year and a half.

If Honda are now cheering the supposed minnows on, having decided to pull out themselves in November, it is as much as anything because they have kept Toyota off the top.

The car Button will have in Barcelona will be much more of a Brawn than a Honda, however.

"It was such an achievement just to get the car to the first race that there were no developments left, that was it," Brawn said.

"From the time that Honda announced they were stopping at the end of November the budget was very limited, the developments weren't coming. But they are coming now, so we can get the ball rolling again in terms of improving the car."

Source:
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