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  Brawn GP BGP001 Mercedes
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:2009
Numbers built:3
Successor:Mercedes-Benz W01
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 19, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOne of the great things about sports is the sheer unpredictability of the results. It is not uncommon for the favourite to fail and the underdog to overcome adversity. In a tightly regulated sport like Formula 1 there is unfortunately little room for surprises. The successful teams can develop their winning cars often creating bigger gaps with the competition. Only drastic rule changes can upset the status quo with immediate effect. The start of the 2009 season was a prime example when for once the underdog stole the show. Winning six of the first seven races, Jenson Button and the newly formed Brawn GP left the previous year's top runners well in their wake.

Just a few weeks before the first race of the season, this scenario seemed absolutely impossible. Honda had withdrawn from Formula 1 late in 2008, offering their England based operation for sale. Although there were various interested parties a new owner could not be found. Eventually a management buy-out led by team principle Ross Brawn seemed the only solution. Launched early in March, the 'new' team was labelled Brawn GP and pretty much continued where Honda had left off. Compared to the competition, the team was two months behind on testing. Nevertheless seasoned drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello stunned observers by their pace straight out of the box.

Perhaps forced by the economic or tired of the poor results, Honda could not have timed their withdrawal worse. Very early on Brawn and his men had decided to forget about 2008 and concentrate all their efforts on the new car. Dramatic changes to the aero and tire regulations meant that the 2009 contender would require a virtual clean-sheet design. Honda was the first team to start the developments and had a clear head-start. Insiders already predicted a great year for the team after so many dire seasons. When the Japanese manufacturer announced it would cease the Formula 1 activities many feared we would never get to see just how good the car was.

Three months later we did get to see the new machine. Painted in a white with Day-Glo yellow stripes livery, the Brawn GP BGP001 was revealed at the Silverstone circuit. Honda had also stopped the supply of engines but fortunately Mercedes-Benz were able to increase their production. In record time the Brawn GP engineers adapted the chassis to accommodate for the Mercedes V8 engine. The most controversial element of the car was the 'double decker' diffuser. Even though Ross Brawn had already talked about its legality with the FIA in 2008, many of the other teams were convinced the diffuser was illegal. Toyota and Williams used similar designs and obviously sided with Brawn GP. The protests overshadowed the first races but came to nothing.

Although everybody knew the Brawn GP cars were very quick, few expected the pre-season testing pace could be maintained during the race weekends. The Brawn GP team could and in spectacular fashion. Even though the team did not exist a month earlier, Button and Barrichello piloted the striking and virtually sponsorless BGP001s to a one-two victory during the season opening Australian Grand Prix. The previous season's top contenders McLaren and Ferrari both failed to score points. Rarely had the tables turned so dramatically in Formula 1. As the season progressed more and more sponsors were found but what maintained was Button's incredible form and the unusual white and yellow livery.

Button scored six wins in the first seven races and held a massive lead in the standings. With one hand on the championship trophy, he and the Brawn team hit a slump as the rest of the field caught up. The Adrian Newey designed Red Bull RB5 emerged as the biggest challenger of Button's reign. Despite only scoring a few points for several races, the rivals did not catch him hand over feet because each of these races had a different winner. Barrichello also added two victories to his tally after a five-year drought. As his lead gradually decreased, the pressure on Button increased. In the penultimate race at Interlagos, he finally clinched the title with a drive worthy of a world champion. The Brawn GP team ended its fairytale season with the Constructor's trophy as well.

Working on a tight budget, Brawn GP only built three chassis and Jenson Button used the same car throughout his championship winning year. Before Honda's withdrawal a 'RA109' tub was constructed but that could not be used with the Mercedes engine. Shortly after the 2009 season, it emerged that this was a one-off season for Brawn GP as the team was bought by Mercedes-Benz. The 'Silver Arrows' will not be piloted by Barrichello and Button as they have left for Williams and McLaren respectively. With nine wins in seventeen races and securing both driver's and constructor's in their only ever season, the Brawn GP will undoubtedly enter the history books as one of the most successful Formula 1 teams ever.

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  Article Image gallery (28) Specifications