ISTANBUL // Ross Brawn spent 15 years working with Michael Schumacher, helping the German to an unprecedented seven world championships. A dream team at Benetton and Ferrari, their paths were paved with success. Three years on since that last title win, Brawn is savouring triumphant times again.
Jenson Button is the reason for that. A sixth win in the first seven races this season has elevated the Brawn GP driver among the sport's Hall of Fame, joining Alberto Ascari, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio and Schumacher as men who have achieved such an accomplishment. Only Schumacher went on to greater heights with 12 wins in 13 during a glorious 2004 campaign. It is a target now for the championship leader Button and, despite being only seven races into the season, Brawn believes he deserves his place in history and sees similarities with Schumacher.
"In terms of ability there has to be many comparisons," he said. "I had a long time, 15 years working with Michael and this is only my second year with Jenson. "But he's an enjoyable person to work with and incredibly quick. "They are different characters and different people, but what I see in Jenson is the dedication, the commitment, the focus and he is superbly fit. He really enjoys his fitness work and that is similar to Michael, which is interesting. There's also a winning mentality. Michael acquired it and Jenson is getting it.
"Up until this year, Jenson won one race in slightly odd circumstances, so it comes. "What's nice is that it's coming with Jenson, but he's still keeping the same attitude, a same balanced approach as a person which is delightful. "The fact he's been through some tough years means he won't let it go to his head, I know it won't. "The commitment he made to the team and the loyalty he showed to the team in difficult times, I cannot think of anyone more deserving.
"The guys in the team told me Jenson was exceptional, and I didn't see it last year, but now I believe them." While the efficiency and power of the car has been a major factor in his change of fortunes, Brawn admits his driver deserves credit too. "He is driving fantastically well," he added. "I can't say enough about how well he's done. "It was an absolute perfect performance. It was very smooth, very controlled. He pushed when he needed to. Looked after the tyres, looked after the engine and gained a bit of fuel at different parts of the race when he needed to think about fuel consumption to make the laps. Maybe it was not the most dramatic performance, but it was the best performance.
"It's just astonishing what he's been doing and it looks he is getting better and better. This was the best performance I have seen this year." Button is keen to heed those words as he outlined his new target. "I know I would love to win every single race this year, but I know I've another 19 guys on the circuit that want to stop me doing that," he said. "I'm in a good position, and this race showed we do have the best car, but I think we have the best package.
"At the moment you would say the situation is perfect, but it could quite easily go the wrong way. You've got to keep pushing. "I've a 26-point lead, which is just out of this world, but I'm still not going to lift off." One man who could yet upset him is Rubens Barrichello, his Brawn GP teammate and closest rival in the drivers' standings. He retired in Istanbul after a host of problems, but is determined to push Button at the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
Their team boss, Brawn, has said there are no orders in place right now to favour Button's championship bid and they were free to race. Barrichello, who suffered with that issue at Ferrari alongside Michael Schumacher, said: "I get on with Jenson quite well and both of us want to win. We had a talk with Ross and we want to understand if we were fighting. Both of us wanted to be free to race and it was different from the Ferrari times. For six years I couldn't race Now that I can, it's good.
"I have to look ahead to Silverstone. I love the place and love the track. I want a hat-trick there; fastest lap, pole and the win. email@example.com