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The Betfair Contrarian: Why Jenson Button won't win the Formula One Drivers Championship

Formula One RSS / / 14 May 2009 / 2 Comments

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He's leading the Formula One World Championship by 14 points but the Betfair Contrarian is convinced the Brit won't be top of the standings when the final chequered flag of the season is waved. Here's why...

Of the many varieties of defeat enjoyed by The Contrarian over the years, one that never loses its magic is the sight of a big lead squandered. Jenson Button ([1.68] on Betfair) has an impressive 14 point lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship after winning four of this season's first five races. However, taking into account the fact that greats such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost have missed out after winning three of their first four in the past, the Contrarian has no doubts that a Brit can fritter away a similar advantage. Here's why The Contrarian is giving the red flag to Button's chances of the championship.

Early advantage isn't too significant

It's too early to write off the other challengers. In the last two seasons, the driver that topped the standings after five races - Alonso in 2007 and Raikkonen last year - finished the season in third. Two years ago Raikkonen had just 23 points at this stage, less than Rubens Barrichello ([16.0]) has now and the same as Sebastian Vettel [5.3] and trailed Alonso by 15 points, but still finished the season as champion.

Internal problems could hinder his progress

It didn't even take a superhuman effort for Raikkonen to recover that deficit either, with five wins from the remaining 12 races proving enough for him. Instead the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Alonso became so preoccupied with fighting each other that they forgot about Raikkonen, who trailed by 17 points with two races remaining, allowing him to steal the title from under their noses. Last week in Barcelona Rubens Barrichello felt the Brawn team favoured his colleague Button and prevented him from winning. History repeating?

Button's form could nosedive...

Emphasising the point that a strong start doesn't guarantee title success is the way Raikkonen aquaplaned out of contention last season. After last year's Spanish Grand Prix he had 29 points, however he didn't win another race all season and finished on the podium just six times in the final 14 races, ending up closer to Heikki Kovalainen than to Lewis Hamilton. If a reigning world champion can lose form so drastically, then there is every possibility that someone with no prior experience of being in this position will too.

...and that's happened before

The last time Button finished a Formula One season in double figures was in 2006, when he suffered a big mid-season dip. At Monaco, which follows the Spanish Grand Prix, he started a barren five-race run. That year he averaged 2.67 points a race in the first six and 5.83 in the final six while taking only 0.83 in the six races in between, all of which came at Hockenheim, which is not on this year's calendar.

Vettel won the most important race

Vettel may have only won one race so far but it was significant that he triumphed in China because the winner there has gone on the claim the driver's title in three of the last four years, including each of the last two. In contrast, Buttons victories in Malaysia where just two of the last seven winners have won the title and Spain where just one of the last four victors have claimed the main prize, don't hold him in quite as good stead.

Brits don't win in consecutive seasons

Not since Nelson Piquet in 1987 and Ayrton Senna in 1988 have two different drivers from the same country won the Driver's Championship in consecutive years. Not since 1969, when Jackie Stewart took Graham Hill's crown, has the trophy stayed in Britain for longer than 12 months.

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Comments (2)

  1. Marcus | 19 May 2009

    Surely your comment about China is largely irrelevant?

    The Chinese GP has been at the tail end of every season other than this year (penultimate GP in 2007/2008, third last in 2006, and actually the last GP in 2005!).

    So, it is pretty weird to call it the most important race and base your comments on a race that's occupying a different place in the calendar this year?

  2. F1 princess | 23 June 2009

    Bizarre reasoning but most drivers win win in melbourne the first race of the season go on to win the championship and button won in melb as did raikkonen and hamilton in the previous years

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