Brackley, Saturday: World championship leader Jenson Button’s mid-season slump in performance has been blamed on the Brawn GP’s policy of using budget airline easyJet to fly to races.

Excess baggage: Budget carrier easyJet
Excess baggage: Budget carrier easyJet

The Briton won six of the year’s first seven races, but then failed to finish on the podium in any of the following five Grands Prix. Only in last week’s Italian Grand Prix did Button finally take to the rostrum again, finishing second behind teammate Rubens Barrichello.

However, Brawn have revealed today that the reason for Button’s lack of performance in the last few races is that he was reluctant to win any more trophies, having encountered problems earlier in the season in getting them to conform to easyJet’s stringent baggage regulations.

“If I put a trophy in my suitcase I would invariably be over the weight limit for hold baggage,” Button confessed today. “And these trophies are such odd shapes, they would never fit in the overhead locker or under the seat either. In the end I was having to pay extra to put them in the hold, which at £50 per kilo is a little excessive.”

Team principal Ross Brawn admitted that he had instructed Button to aim to finish off the podium to avoid such problems in the middle of the season. “With money a little tight at present, we couldn’t afford to be spending hundreds of pounds every race on shipping trophies,” the team boss said. “So we asked Jenson to aim for fourth at best, although obviously sometimes we miscalculated and he ended up about seventh instead.”

Button’s return to form has been attributed to the hiring of a motorcycle courier to convey the trophies back to Brackley without incurring prohibitive airline expenses. Brawn declined to identify the motorcyclist in question, believed to be an unemployed German male, though he did specify that the trophies would be brought to the UK “at breakneck speed.”