Pit Stop

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am

I'm not a great fan of Queen, but I have to admit I liked a recent rendition of We Are the Champions. Jenson Button belted it out on the in-car radio after his heroics in Brazil, even with a touch of vibrato at the end. Fair play to the lad, he's earned his moments of euphoria, even if his shouts of 'I'm the world champion baby!' were a little too Austin Powers for me.

After his six victories at the start of the season, it was a crawl to the line in the end, but that shouldn't take away from his achievement. The race at Interlagos put to bed any arguments about his right to be champion. It was a stunning race by the Englishman, peppered with breathtaking overtaking that was more impressive for the fact that one mistake could have ruined his season and, by extension, his career.

He wasn't the only one having a big afternoon. Ross Brawn became the first person to mastermind the world championship with three teams. To win both the drivers and constructors titles in the first year with your name over the door, despite having to fight to keep the company afloat, has been his biggest achievement. No wonder the normally Zen-like boss was reduced to tears.

Spare a thought for a man who fancies his chances of winning this weekend in Abu Dhabi and won in Brazil, Mark Webber. The Australian has had a stellar season but his second win was virtually ignored and the podium celebrations seemed an intrusion into the good-natured riot in the Brawn garage.

Sympathy for Webber is dwarfed by the feelings any sane person will have for Rubens Barrichello. His only chance of being world champion has gone. He is unlikely to find a race seat in a competitive team next year, if one at all. It's a measure of the man that he gave his teammate such hearty and heartfelt congratulations. Let's hope he's still in the paddock next season.

Next year is where minds are being focused right now, not Abu Dhabi. The future is a lot clearer now that Jean Todt has been voted in as the new president of the sport's governing body, the FIA. It's not so much a retrograde step as no step at all. Given that he was backed by Max Mosley, the outgoing boss, you have to fear for the future.

The former Ferrari principal is very much the establishment choice, and won at a canter. Despite the secret ballot forced on delegates by the other candidate, Ari Vatanen, the turkeys weren't going to vote for Christmas. Michael Schumacher was very much Todt's cheerleader on election day and is tipped for a top job overseeing Formula One. It would seem old cliques will thrive in the new regime.

Vatanen would have been a better choice, a break from an overbearing leadership that seemed to thrive on confrontation. Still, Todt has promised harmony with the teams and unity within the FIA itself, and I guess we should wait to see if it comes to pass. Fine words don't always translate into fine actions.

It's just one element that will make 2010 another fascinating year in Formula One. New teams on the grid will bring a host of fresh faces behind the racing helmets. It's not at all clear where some of them will end up. Let's hope that Kimi Raikonnen doesn't decide to leave the sport and does end up at McLaren.

I say that because I fully expect to see Button still with Brawn and not as teammate to Lewis Hamilton. Fascinating though the prospect of seeing the last two world champions in the same team was, all that talk was pure theatre - part of the very public pay negotiations Brawn and Button are engaged in.

There's not the sea change in regulations there were this year, and that should see the big boys back at the front of the grid, given their budgets. Expect Hamilton and Ferrari-bound Fernando Alonso to be banging wheels on the front row. Button talks about back-to-back titles, but his team won't have the advantage of surprise or pots of cash.

If they manage to pull it off, Brawn isn't just a genius, he's a national treasure.