Single-season stars Brawn GP have taken another step towards having their incredible 2009 performance immortalised after driver Jenson Button and his former Brawn GP team were each nominated for a prestigious international sports award.
The Laureus World Sport Awards are presented annually for outstanding contributions to the world of sport and, having been founded in 1999, are backed by a number of international brands. Some, such as Mercedes and Vodafone, are extremely familiar with Formula One.
The latter is the title sponsor of Button’s current race team, McLaren, while the former has, of course, just taken over management of Brawn GP and provides engines to both outfits.
A selection panel of sports editors, writers and broadcasters from more than 150 countries votes on a shortlist for each category and then members of the Laureus World Sports Academy hold a secret vote to pick the winners.
They will be announced at a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday March 10.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its backers, motorsports personalities appear regularly in the lists of nominees. But the choice of category for Button is a little unusual – the Formula One world champion usually finds himself nominated for the Sportsman of the Year Award.
Button has instead been nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award for his feat in coming almost from the back of the grid in a struggling Honda to helping Brawn GP to a double drivers’ and constructors’ success.
He will be facing competition from fellow Britons Mark Cavendish, who won six stages of the 2009 Tour de Franceand became the first Brit to wear the green jersey for two days in a row. Also nominated is young Olympic gold medal-winning diver Tom Daley.
Argentinan tennis star and winner of the US Open tennis star Juan Martin del Potro, South Korea’s talented young golfer Ji Yai Shin and the German football team VFL Wolfsburg are also in the running.
Laureus World Sports Academy Member and double Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen said: “Jenson Button thoroughly deserved to win the World Championship. He has certainly had to wait a long time for this, having taken part in 169 Grand Prix.
“And to do it in a revamped team which nearly went out of business in the winter makes it even more remarkable. His early season form when he won six out of the first seven Grand Prix was breathtaking.”
Brawn GP is facing stiff competition for the team award with fellow nominees including football’s Champions League winners FC Barcelona, the German women’s football team, victors of a fifth straight European Championship, and the Los Angeles Lakers basketball squad who won a 15th NBA title in their record 30th play-off appearance.
Also nominated are the New York Yankees baseball team for a record 27th World Series win, and the South Africa Rugby Team, the international rugby team of the year, and winners of the Lions and Tri-Nations series.
As mentioned above, it is very common for Formula One world champions to be nominated for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award, with Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher all receiving that recognition.
However only Michael Schumacher has actually won it, taking the award in 2002 and 2004. He is the second most-nominated candidate, after golfer Tiger Woods.
Last year Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was nominated for the Breakthrough of the Year award but did not win. That privilege went to swimmer Rebecca Adlington. Lewis Hamilton won this prize in 2008 following his stunning debut season in Formula One and Juan-Pablo Montoya, a driver for Williams and McLaren, was the winner in 2002.
Button himself has previously been nominated for this award in 2001, following his debut season in Formula One.