Jenson’s lead is now so big that he doesn’t really have to win any more
“I’d definitely put my money on him,” said the defending drivers’ title winner, Lewis Hamilton.
Coulthard’s friend David Coulthard, meanwhile, wrote in his Telegraph column after Monaco: “That’s it. All bets are off.”
But don’t say that kind of thing to the 29-year-old Brawn driver’s face, who after his fifth win of the season at Monaco last weekend, extended his points lead to 16 points over teammate Rubens Barrichello, and 28 over Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Told by a reporter that the championship is now his to lose, Button retorted: “You are sort of putting a bit of negative energy in there. I wouldn’t put it like that. It is all to play for.”
Despite Ferrari’s form leap at Monaco, the main non-Brawn challenger remains Red Bull, and Ross Brawn said he is concerned about the RB5 going into next weekend’s Turkish grand prix.
“Perhaps the area of the high-speed performance (is) where we know we are not quite as good as Red Bull,” the team owner and boss admitted.
Before leaving Monaco, Brawn also reminded the press that his Brackley team is a “boutique” outfit rather than a hugely-resourced team like Ferrari or McLaren.
Certainly the sport’s paymasters are hoping Brawn and Button are seriously challenged, with Bernie Ecclestone admitting on the Monaco grid that he was concerned the season is becoming too “predictable”.
F1 majority owner CVC’s Donald Mackenzie was also in Monte Carlo and heard to confess that Brawn’s current dominance is not doing the business “any good”.
Christian Horner, Vettel’s team boss at Red Bull, told the Austrian news agency APA: “The championship is not over yet for Sebastian. It’s much too early to say that.”
However, with the current points system, and if Button simply stays consistently on the podium, it may already be too late for Vettel to catch up even if the 21-year-old German begins a winning streak.
On the other hand, with Ecclestone’s ‘medals’-type system in place, Vettel would be able to win the next four races and tie the championship in time for the Valencia street race in August, and then have a further six rounds until the Abu Dhabi finale.
“Jenson’s lead is now so big that he doesn’t really have to win any more, he can drive more tactically for podium finishes,” Ferrari’s Felipe Massa told spox.com.
“For sure he is in a very good position to win the championship, but in formula one anything is possible,” the Brazilian added.