Marbles ~ Laura Mariee: 09-30-2009


So, some may say this season has flown by, and I wouldn’t argue with that. F1 fans are getting nervous about who will take the title, and although many think its most likely to be Jenson, the fight isn’t over until the points say otherwise. So will the championship battle go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, or will Jenson secure the drivers’ title before then? Without throwing in too many mathematical equations, how will the season reach its conclusion from here? And are you hoping Button wraps it up this week, or are you, like me, hoping they will be racing for the championship right up to Abu Dhabi…?

With just days to go until the Japanese GP, no doubt everyone is thinking, Is Button going to take the world drivers’ championship in Suzuka? In terms of points on the board, he is practically there. All Jenson has to do is finish five points ahead of Barrichello, and even if his teammate wins the final two races and Button scores nil point, Jenson would have won with six wins, or possibly seven- depending where he finishes in Japan- to four.

So, with that fresh in our heads, we cast our minds back to before the season had even begun, and as reported by SJ, according to Bernie’s winner-takes-all medal system, Button would have been crowned champion from the minute Hamilton crossed the line in Singapore. Or when Barrichello changed his gearbox, took a five place grid drop for doing so, put his Brawn in the wall in Q3, had a blunder in his pitstop, and Vettel landed himself with a drive-through for speeding in the pitlane.

The medal system doesn’t sound exciting at all in hindsight, does it!? As proved in the last couple of years where it has gone down to the last race in Brazil for the title to be decided, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing the F1 world championship go down to the wire, or indeed the penultimate corner.

So, while all Button needs to do this weekend is extend his lead to 20 points over Barrichello, it would be more exciting to see the latter bring the gap down by a few points, and then a few points more in Brazil before the season heads to Abu Dhabi for its finale. Why? Because, to see the two men who were very nearly has-beens a few months ago, fighting it out tooth-and-nail all the way to the end, is an exciting prospect.

At the very least, all Button needs to do this weekend to take the championship is finish fourth, with Barrichello failing to score. Or he could win, meaning Rubens would need to finish on the podium to keep his championship hopes alive. However, if Barrichello wins in Suzuka, even with Jenson on the podium, the fight would be more open going into the last two races. Barrichello needs to get the gap down to less than ten points by Abu Dhabi for him to be in with a chance of being crowned champion, or to put it another way, for the fans to get a straightforward battle.

For Vettel however, being 25 points adrift means he’s got to pull some cracking performances out of the bag, and win the next three races. If you believe Barrichello has a fight on his hands, then surely Vettel would be fighting a losing battle, particularly as to succeed he needs Button to score hardly any points, and at the same time he needs Barrichello to score only a handful too.

So while Jenson’s got it all to lose going into the final few races of the season, for sure, the reigning world champion won’t be feeling the pressure. Perhaps in the end, the pressure is all on Barrichello, and while he fights for every racer’s dream, perhaps we’ll be seeing some more dominance from Lewis and McLaren, as off the back of an impressive win in Singapore, they’ll be looking to end a difficult season on a high, before looking ahead to the next one.

The constructors’ championship appears to be in the bag for Brawn, with Red Bull taking an impressive second. But what about Ferrari and McLaren? As it stands, Ferrari head to Japan with a three point advantage, but with their recent impressive form, it may well be McLaren walking away with third come the end of the season. After a poor performance from Ferrari in Singapore, coupled with Fisichella’s lacklustre performances since joining the team in Monza, there is a strong possibility that McLaren, with their recent surge, will take third in the constructors’ standings.

Then, there is another opportunity looming for McLaren to end 2009 in a better way than they started… That would be by snatching fourth place in the drivers’ championship. Depending on your opinion over who has been the better driver this season, you could say McLaren have fifth covered, as Hamilton trails Raikkonen by only three points, and can easily leapfrog the Finn. But, intriguingly Lewis is just 14.5 points behind Webber, and 22 behind Vettel, and while claiming third is highly unlikely, fourth may not be so hard to achieve. Oh, but you say, If Jenson has a chance of securing the championship in Japan with a current 15 point advantage over Barrichello, surely Mark will retain fourth with a 14.5 advantage over Hamilton.

That is true, but then Barrichello could win the title, all it would take is a couple of DNFs on Jenson’s part, and some decent podium finishes from Rubens. Likewise, with Webber’s recent run of DNFs and finishes out of the points, compared to Hamilton’s recent successes- and very near successes- it is still possible. Of course, Raikkonen may have a part to play yet, after all, if the rumours are to be believed, he may choose to end his Ferrari career on a high, and while it’s possible for Hamilton to take fourth off Webber, Raikkonen could as well.

So while Bernie was keen to adopt the winner-takes-all medal system that would have already crowned Jenson world champion, our 2009 championship is still heating up. The title is Jenson’s to lose, but perhaps the pressure is not so highly placed on him as his teammate. Button’s comfortable advantage means Barrichello still has it all to fight for, whereas Jenson really just needs to bring his Brawn home with good points to achieve his dream.

Whatever happens, we are getting closer to the 2009 finale, and while Abu Dhabi gears up to host its first race, Button and Barrichello may well be gearing up to fight to take their first championship. At least I for one will be hoping it will go that far…

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