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Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 17:55 UK

Martin Brundle column

Jenson Button celebrates with his Brawn GP team
Button and Brawn GP have built up a lead in the constructors' championship

Martin Brundle
By Martin Brundle
BBC Formula 1 broadcaster

Bahrain provided the first straightforward race of the 2009 season with no interference from the safety car, red flags or torrential rain.

Many in the paddock were looking forward to a 'boring race' with no safety car, bizarre as it seems.

It was an intriguing rather than exciting race that's for sure.

For the first time, the true relative pace of the cars revealed itself and, as we head into Europe, Brawn GP are leading the way followed by the fast-closing Red Bull and Toyota teams.

Strategy was the key word and Brawn GP got theirs spot on.

Race winner Jenson Button was on a two-stop strategy. He used the super soft tyres over the first two stints and that made all the difference to his race.

Brawn made the right tyre choices, but there was another key element to Button's win. It was critical that he re-took Hamilton - and he did so with a brave and audacious move

Martin Brundle

The Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock started on the front row but they chose to run the medium tyres in the middle stint. On the slower tyres they lost critical track position and so lost ground in traffic. Trulli was then blocked behind Vettel's Red Bull in the closing stages when the young German was on the slower tyre.

That strategy was never going to work because the medium tyres had less performance in Bahrain and there is no point having a fast car but then chosing a strategy which forces them to overtake on the track to make it work.

Brawn made the right tyre choices, but there was another key element to Button's win.

It was critical that he re-took Lewis Hamilton when the world champion, Kers (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)-assisted, passed him off the start to snatch third place.

Button managed to overtake Hamilton's McLaren with a brave and audacious move at the start of the second lap. If he hadn't made it stick he would have been in real trouble.

The end result was that Hamilton ended up holding up Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull and that gave race-leader Button some more breathing space.

The race fell to Button in some respects. If Vettel, who won last time out in Shanghai, had not been held up in the early stages by the fast starting Hamilton he could have given the Englishman a real run for his money.

Jenson Button overtakes Lewis Hamilton

Highlights - Button wins Bahrain GP

As a team, Brawn gambled on an each-way bet in Bahrain - and Rubens Barrichello ended up being on the loser.

Barrichello opted for a three-stop strategy. Team boss Ross Brawn says the Brazilian was not entirely happy with his car but he pulled off some great overtaking moves, and he will be moderately pleased to finish fifth.

Button, Barrichello and Brawn proved that they are still right on top of their game in Bahrain but with four races down where do they go from here?

Well, with three race victories under his belt Button must be thinking this is not just an end to a miserable winter and a fairytale start to the season.

He must now seriously consider that he has a real chance to win the 2009 world championship.

The Englishman is driving beautifully and you can really see the momentum and spirit growing within the team.

But Button insists he needs fresh developments on the car and it will be heads down at their Brackley HQ from now on.

Ross Brawn admitted in Bahrain that the team have had "nothing left in the cupboard". Over the first four GPs they have used all the performance goodies which were already in place as they packed their bags for race one in Melbourne.

So the question now is do they have the resources, time and budget to develop the car further and keep their dual title bids alive?


We understand that there will be some new pieces coming over the next few races, but they will have to look over their shoulders because the tide is turning on the relative performance of the main rivals.

The McLarens have stepped forward while the Red Bulls and Toyotas have been consistently strong. Most teams are also promising major updates at the next race - the Spanish Grand Prix.

Button and Brawn will head to the European leg of the season with some breathing space. Whatever happens Jenson will still lead the championship after the next race. That's a nice position to be in.

The ban on in-season testing means their rivals teams will not be able to try out major technological updates before they arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya other than in straight line aero testing at a bumpy airfield.

Barcelona is also not the easiest place to make up ground on those with the early season advantage.

If your car is not working through the long fast corners of Catalunya then a driver simply cannot manhandle it around the circuit.

Smart Brawn and silky Button will take some beating.

Martin Brundle was talking to BBC Sport's Sarah Holt.

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see also
Button expects close title battle
27 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Highlights - Button wins Bahrain GP
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Brilliant Button wins in Bahrain
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix as it happened
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix photos
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Trulli on pole as Toyota dominate
25 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Martin Brundle column
20 Apr 09 |  Formula 1

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