So, after more twists and turns than an episode of Alias, the team formerly known as Honda is now Brawn GP – a going concern with a car out on the test track at Barcelona today.
And, in what couldn’t have been a better start for the fledgling team, Jenson Button managed to put his car at the top of the timesheet in the morning session in his first track outing since mid-November with a fastest lap of 1:21.140.
It was a sweet moment for all the fans of team and driver who had begun to believe that the slated management buyout, and promised “dozens” of suitors were vanishing into thin air as the season start approached.
Admittedly, with only a handful of test days left before the season start in Melbourne on March, and with a chassis adapted to take a Mercedes engine instead of the Honda one it was originally designed for, the team will realistically have its work cut out to achieve even mid-field performance.
In fact, we might be looking at the high point of Brawn GP’s first season right now – Button fell to fourth in the afternoon session and will almost certainly fall further when the season begins.
Only a fool would expect different – but Ross Brawn is no fool. He’s on record predicting early-season reliability gremlins and his targets revolve around saving jobs and achieving respectability.
However, even given all that, what we see so far is great, thanks very much.
Our Jense has stared down the sceptics and secured a drive. His old mucka Rubens Barrichello, one of our favourite drivers here at Brits On Pole, has escaped seeing a 15-year Formula One career fizzle out at the back of the Interlagos grid.
This site will likely always cheer on McLaren. It’s practically a patriotic duty. But the management here has always had a terrible weakness for the underdog. And in these days of teams owned by motor manufacturers or billionaires there aren’t a lot of them around.
Now all that could be changing.
We’ve got a new British team with a British driver to cheer on – Ross Brawn, who’d have thought it in the Ferarri days, eh? – and that suits us just fine.
Maybe Brawn is just keeping the seat warm until the economy picks up and Honda can come back. Maybe his stint as a team owner will be similar in length and effectiveness to that of Eddie Jordan or Peter Sauber. Or Aguri Suzuki.
Or maybe we’re witnessing the birth of something akin to when Colin Chapman, Bruce McLaren or Frank Williams first hit the track.
Time will tell. And at Brits on Pole we’ll be watching with interest and, yes, with excitement too.