The Brawn F1 team is returning from yesterday’s final Barcelona test day brimming with confidence after Jensen Button set the fastest time in the new outfit’s ’09 car.
Button’s 1:19.127 around the Spanish circuit was more than one second faster than Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.
While test times are not a true indicator of race competitiveness - especially as Brawn F1 needs to pull out all the stops to impress any potential sponsors – Button’s sterling ‘P1’ performance will help to confound critics who thought the former Honda outfit’s days were numbered.
According to trackside reports, Button completed a full race distance in the new car yesterday, including pit stops. The team also simulated qualifying and evaluated various set-ups.
‘After all the challenges we have faced, to come here and get such an encouraging start is just what we needed. All that effort paid off, and everyone can feel very proud,’ said Button, who earlier this week told Autosport that his Brawn F1 drive felt like a chance to start his career all over again.
Speaking in the middle of the three day test, team principal Ross Brawn claimed to be unsurprised by his car’s performance.
‘It’s 15 months work. We said we would sacrifice last year to concentrate on this car, and what you see is what we said we would do. So it is perfectly rational in my mind,’ he said.
What might not seem quite so rational now, particularly in Tokyo, is the decision by Honda to axe its F1 participation in the first place – especially as rival Toyota is also showing strongly in testing and threatening its best season yet.
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