The Scrutineering Bay is Badger’s way of taking a hot Grand Prix racing topic and getting people from the Sett involved to put their opinions across. From predicting races, arguing stewards decisions to just deciding who was/is/will be the best, anything is fair game!
Everyone has their favourites in F1, and more often than not the driver everyone roots for is a Brit – it definitely is the case at Badger. After the utter madness that was Canada, and Jenson Button emerging on top after as many setbacks an afternoon’s racing can throw at a driver, we are asking:
“Was that the greatest drive by a British driver?”
This week’s entrants into the Scrutineering Bay are myself, Craig Normansell, Jimmy Von Weeks, and Benson Jammichello, who goes first;
Let’s start with the fact I don’t care whether it was the greatest ever drive by a British driver. Well, that’s not quite true, but I simply don’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every drive by someone from this sceptred isle.
What I do know though, is that it was a fantastic drive, no matter how you look at it. To overcome the conditions, the incidents and, I would assume, the mental trials that accompany such a race speaks volumes for Button not only as a driver, but as a man.
The extreme focus required to keep your mind on driving a 200mph car around a very narrow strip on a wet, and then drying, track is incredibly impressive. Yes, others managed it, but they didn’t do it with the same difficulties Button faced or simply, be as fast.
He managed to be over a second faster than Vettel towards the end of the race. A second. That’s light years faster in F1 time and it showed – Vettel made (possibly) his only mistake of the season and let Button past.
A great drive by a great driver. Was it the best, who knows? Was it brilliant, whatever nationality he is? Yes.
Up next is Jimmy;
Jenson’s drive to victory on Sunday was truly something special. At least what we saw of it was. I for one didn’t notice the McLaren driver’s resurgence until he popped up in P4 with bags of pace in hand and started picking people off at will.
But the greatest by a Briton in the sport’s history? Can it really eclipse the legendary performances of the past?
There are so many that Jenson has to beat: Damon Hill dragging the ’97 Arrows to within two miles of victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix; John Watson coming from 22nd on the grid to win at Long Beach in 1983; Graham Hill’s 1965 Monaco victory, when he went straight on at an escape road, climbed out of the car, pushed it back on to the track and went to win by over a minute; Jackie Stewart’s triumph in appalling conditions at the German Grand Prix of 1968; and let’s not forget Jenson’s team-mate, whose 2008 victory at Silverstone by over a minute was something very special.
Add to these the many, many examples I’ve omitted and you get an idea of how difficult it is to answer this question definitively. A future project, perhaps, if the Badger team has a spare six months.
But what is clear is that this was Button’s finest victory in Formula One. When the Frome Flyer has long retired from the sport you’ve got to feel that Canada 2011 will be remembered as his magnus opus. If he can top this then perhaps we will be able to start talking about the finest win by a Brit.
And last to have a go is me;
We can all remember certain drives as fans, ones that stick out because of an incident or event that sticks with us. Rarely you get drivers performing out of their skin for the whole race, like Panis in Monte Carlo and Senna at Donington, which are both now iconic. Was Jenson Button’s race in that same vein though? Oh yes, and to quote Felipe, “for sure”.
The only other race that comes close in recent years was Lewis Hamilton’s dominance on a sodden track at Silverstone in 2008. But, did Lewis have to contend with his team-mate driving into him, a drive-through penalty, a new nose and several changes for tyres? Nope. Was he ever in last place in ’08 too? Nope. That’s what makes Sunday’s victory so special for Jenson.
As his engineer said to him on the radio, JB had been in every position possible in the race, and still took the win. Had it been in dry conditions or hadn’t been as wet as it ended up being, I don’t think JB would’ve won – he doesn’t have the skill to push a car beyond it’s limits like Hamilton does – so it was just a case of right place at the right time. Fantastic result and one for the ages.
Whether you think it was Britain’s greatest Grand Prix result or not, Canada was one of the most exciting races of the modern era. What do you think?