Sunday, June 28, 2009

Man or the Machine

This has been a highly debated thing since the early 90’s where we always wanted to know how much of a difference does a driver make to the team and also how much does he needs from a car to go on and dominate the series.

Jensen Button was dominating the 2009 season till Silverstone where an inspired Vettel and his RBR car pulled off such a dominating performance that now suddenly Brawn’s dominating season may not be as dominating as one would expect and the Red Bull team can pose a very serious challenge to both the titles which just a week ago was all set to be won by Brawn without even sweating out much.

Button made in debut during the 2000 season for the Williams F1 team and though he was never pulled off a rookie performance like a Hamilton or a Jacques Villeneuve but still he was impressive enough was immediately touted as a potential world champion in the coming years. But then after 2 years in the Renault/Benetton teams he switched to the BAR team and inspite of a contract lock-up with the Williams team which he eventually got out from, he stuck with the BAR team which became Honda and finally it turned up as the Brawn GP team.

There was a stage when Button became from a potential champion to a very consistent F1 driver and at one stage BAR/Honda test driver Antony Davidson was said to be as good as Button but if nit for his looks and contacts he should have been in Button’s race seat and not Jenson Button!!!

Now Button’s performance this season is compared with the performance which Schumacher put during his championship winning 2004 season. Schumacher has proved that he could infact be the best possible driver ever to have raced in F1 but not only ending up owning every possible F1 record possible but also joining a languishing Ferrari and making it into the superpower that it is now. Prost and Senna were great drivers of the 80’s but they never were part of a team which was struggling to score points, they were always with the best.

How do you judge the driver’s skills unless they all have identical cars but then this is done at junior formula levels and by the time a driver enters F1, you know how much potential he will have. I am sure that everyone on the grid knows that Kazuki Nakajima is never a world champion potential and he is in F1 thanks to Toyota’s connection with Williams while teammate Rosberg can potentially be a world champion if he does have a good car.

There are drivers who are good and they also need a very good package to win races and world titles and these includes the likes of Kimi, Massa, Hamilton and even Button but then there are drivers who no matter how much bad the car can be, they still put up an astounding performance day in and day out and currently on the grid Alonso and Vettel does it. Alonso has proved once again this season that it is just not about the cars and he can pull off an amazing performance even with a poor car.

Sebastian Vettel is a once in a lifetime sort of talent and he has taken the Schumacher route to F1 and everyone still remembers his first win at Monza with the Toro Rosso team at rainy conditions where more experienced drivers were struggling for grip while Vettel having his first full season took an amazing win or his overtaking on Hamilton at last year’s Brazilian GP where Hamilton driving one of the best cars on the grid but Vettel on a Toro Rosso overtook him at the last lap to go with ease.

If it was strictly cars which make a difference then Rubens Barrichello should have won atleast one world championship now as he had a nearly identical car to Schumacher and now to Button. But then though how much ever he may crib about team orders and all, there has never been a whole season where he has consistently beaten either Schumacher or Button.

It is not only the cars but the drivers also matter but off late the car element has gone up so much that and though Jenson Button is a good driver, there are atleast half a dozen guys on the grid who are better than him but still thanks to a very good car he is able to put a dominating show whereas guys like Alonso is struggling to even score points.

It will be amazing if both Alonso and Vettel would join Ferrari by 2011 and if Ferrari can produce a car which is as good as anyone on the field then it would be amazing to watch 2 of the best drivers on the grid battle it out with an equal package and we can surely know that who is the best among the lot as right now if you forget the car and go by sheer driving skills, then Alonso and Vettel are surely on top of the grid by ease now.

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