Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brawn GP - The complete story

Brawn GP Ltd is a Formula One motor racing team and constructor. It was formed on 6 March 2009 after it was confirmed that Ross Brawn, the ex-technical director of the Honda Racing F1 Team, had bought the team from Honda in the wake of the withdrawal from the sport of the Japanese marque in December 2008, and on 17 March 2009 the FIA officially agreed to the name change from Honda Racing F1 Team to Brawn GP. Although the team can be seen as a continuation of the Honda team, Brawn GP was considered by the FIA to be an entirely new entry, but the FIA agreed to waive the standard entry fee in recognition of the team's circumstances. The new team made its racing debut at the 2009 season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 28 March 2009, where they took pole position and 2nd place in qualifying. The team went on to win the top two positions in their debut Grand Prix race on 29 March 2009, with Jenson Button winning the race and Rubens Barrichello coming in second.
The team use Mercedes-Benz engines and its cars are driven by the ex-Honda partnership of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, which has lasted for 3 years. In the early part of the season, several other sponsors were signed, including Virgin, M I G Investments, Henri Lloyd and PerkinElmer.

Although Honda were thought to be the first team to run a KERS in 2008,Ross Brawn stated in an interview that due to the circumstances of the change in ownership the team did not have the time to develop the system yet. On 20 March it was confirmed that Brawn GP will be allocated the final pitlane slot, with Force India moving up one slot. Bernie Ecclestone suggested that this is due to the takeover involving a name change, saying that 'If it was called Honda... whatever was due to Honda, they would have got'. For this reason Brawn GP were initially assigned numbers 20 and 21 after Force India were assigned Honda's old numbers of 18 and 19. This however was changed at the request of Force India because their promotional material had already been printed with numbers 20 and 21. Brawn had no objection and were reassigned numbers 22 and 23, with 18 and 19 not assigned to anyone.
The team started off strongly on the Friday Practice of the Australian Grand Prix finishing in the top five.

In qualifying at Australia Jenson Button took pole with fellow teammate Rubens Barrichello coming 2nd followed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. This was followed by a race win for Jenson Button, who led from start to finish, with Rubens Barrichello second giving Brawn a 1-2 finish on their debut, which had not happened since Mercedes did it in 1954.
Jenson Button won the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix from pole and picked up the fastest lap. With the win in Malaysia, Brawn GP became the second constructor to win their first two races since Alfa Romeo won the first ever two World Championship Grands Prix at the 1950 British Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix.
At the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix Barrichello qualified in front of Button for the first time this season but in the rain Jenson Button finished 3rd with Rubens Barrichello 4th behind the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Button won again at the Bahrain Grand Prix from fourth on the grid with Barrichello in fifth from sixth. Button ran most of the race in clean air and maintained the lead after the Toyotas pitted and fell down the order. This was the first time they were slower, with the fuel corrected qualifying times, in the season and was blamed on the lack of development on the car.
At the 2009 Spanish Grand Prix, Brawn achieved their second 1-2 of the season with Button leading home Barrichello again.

Brawn BGP 001

Following Honda's withdrawal, development of the BGP 001 never stopped and on the day of its debut, Jenson Button performed its shakedown – the car featuring white, fluorescent yellow and black colours. The team gave the BGP 001 its first test at Circuit de Catalunya on 9 March 2009, topping the timesheets many times. With the testing moving to Circuito de Jerez, Brawn GP continued to set the pace, finishing the test leading two of the three tests. During an interview Brawn said there was more speed to come after he explained that '...The BGP 001 car is the result of 15 months of intensive development work and the team have been nothing less than fantastic in their commitment to producing two cars in time for the first race'.
At the first race an official complaint was launched by four teams against the rear diffusers of the Williams FW31, Toyota TF109 and the Brawn BGP 001 on the grounds that they did not fall within the dimensions set out in the regulations, but after analysing the cars the race stewards reported that the cars were legal. This ruling has been appealed, the appeal was heard after the second race of the season. However motorsport's governing body ruled that the car was legal. There was another complaint at Malaysia after which BMW Sauber joined the appeal after they were deemed legal, again. After the appeal the diffuser was deemed legal by the FIA. In Spain, the car received its first improvements since Australia and gave Brawn a 1-2, just as in Melbourne.

The sponsors that were still with the Honda team stayed on as sponsors, including Bridgestone.
Through the early stages of the 2009 season Brawn has obtained various sponsor deals. On 26 March 2009, Brawn GP announced a partnership with British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd. The company will supply the team with clothing and footwear and their brand will appear on the BGP 001. On 28 March 2009 Sir Richard Branson announced Virgin as a major sponsor for the team. On April 17 Brawn announced an agreement with MIG Investments. They would sport the logo on the front of the car. It was also confirmed on April 19 that Ray-Ban, a sunglasses manufacturer, would carry on sponsoring the team - their logo appears on the drivers' helmets. At the 2009 Bahrain Grand Prix Virgin sported their Virgin Galactic logo instead of Virgin. They re-signed Endless Advance and NCE and signed a new supplier deal with safety harness supplier Willans before the Spanish Grand Prix. Only for the Spanish Grand Prix, Sony Pictures joined the team with the cars featuring promotional imagery from the upcoming film Terminator Salvation.

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