F1 Gold | Brawn GP's 2009 success - A vision only one man believed in


It's 2008, and BAR-Honda is looking to withdraw from Formula 1.

It's far from an ideal situation for those making up the team because their livelihoods are at stake. In every sense of the word, team members are looking at a very difficult 2009. And the recession of the time is also not helping.

Ross Brawn was the team boss for BAR-Honda at the time, and he was frantically trying to convince both Honda and its partner, BAR, to stick around for at least one more year. Honda was in a pickle because throughout 2008, Brawn was designing the 2009 race car.

They knew what was at stake, and everything that Brawn laid on the table looked promising. Do they listen to Brawn and believe in his vision? Or, do they make a financially sound decision and walk away from a sport that's not bringing in the financial successes they had hoped for?

By the end of the 2008 season, Brawn had bought the team for £1 - a symbolic gesture by both parties to ensure the team's survival for at least one more year. But Honda was done.

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BAR-Honda's 2008 F1 car. Image: Getty Images

A winning team

By the time the first race of the season came along, Brawn had aptly renamed the former BAR-Honda team to Brawn GP. He retained the driver pairing of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello for 2009 to ensure some continuity in the team. 

But their race car… boy, it was sad. It was bland and only featured the white and green paintwork. No major sponsor was parading on the bodywork. No fancy colours to draw attention. If the car's visuals are anything to go by, 2009 would be another sad year for the team.

READ: F1 Gold - The time Michael Schumacher won the 2004 French GP with 4 pit stops!

Only it wasn't.

Button raced to victory at the season-opening Australian GP and followed it up with another in Malaysia. Then he and Brawn GP took more victories at the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh races of the season! Barrichello would add his name to the 2009 winner's list with victories at the European GP (eleventh race) and Italian GP (thirteenth race).

Button took six victories en route to championship glory that year, and Brawn GP would win the 2009 Constructor's championship.

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Jenson Button (left of centre) celebrates winning the 2009 championships with team mate Rubens Barrichello. Image: Getty Images

Time for change

With Honda having pulled out of the sport in 2008, Brawn had to find an engine partner. Fortunately, Mercedes-Benz was keen on providing the firing power, and the team's full name for 2009 would be Brawn-Mercedes. Merc was already the McLaren team's engine partner.

As 2009 drew on, Brawn and Mercedes would have regular talks about the future, which led to Daimler, Merc's parent company, buying the team from Brawn. Brawn was retained as team principal for 2010 and beyond (until he left at the end of 2013), but Button and Barrichello's times were up.

Button joined McLaren-Mercedes to partner Lewis Hamilton, but apart from a few victories here and there, he would never rekindle to spark that drove him to his 2009 championship glory. Barrichello got a racing seat with Williams, but following competitive sprees with Ferrari and Brawn GP, Williams never gave him a car that can challenge for either a podium spot or a race win. He retired at the end of the 2011 season.

READ: F1 Gold - That time Sebastian Vettel won a drenched 2008 Italian GP in an uncompetitive Toro Rosso

Brawn GP, now Mercedes-AMG Petronas, had two new drivers for 2010: Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, who came out of retirement at Ross Brawn's request. There was lots of hope for the team to continue their 2009 success into 2010, but politics, egos, and too many voices prevented that from happening. Eventually, as alluded to earlier, Brawn left the team, Schumacher's contract came to an end, and a few others also found their way out of the door.

While Mercedes-AMG is enjoying unprecedented successes in the sport today, it's a success recipe that began in 2009. And the basis for the car that’s been winning the last six championships… Yip, Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher had a part to play.

Who said F1 was boring?

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Ross Brawn (right) and Michael Schumacher during their time at Mercedes-AMG. Image: Getty Images
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