2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button relives Brawn GP's magical year through the new Hulu doc series
Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story premieres on Hulu this week (beginning November 15). Actor Keanu Reeves tells one of the greatest sagas in Formula 1 history. Through the insights of Ross Brawn and revered racing icons like Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, all is revealed in this gripping four-part series.
From the formation of Brawn GP see their remarkable journey through strategic maneuvers and financial trials during an exceptionally competitive era in the annals of the sport.
British race car driver and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button joins SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about the documentary series and his career.
"It's great to be talking about the biggest year of my life, 2009. It's been 14 years now that won the World Championship and so much has happened since then. I've been through quite a lot, positive and negative. I've got married and had kids which is awesome and you just don't stop. So when I got the call from Keanu Reeves and team I was so excited. First because it's nice that the whole world will get to see the small team fighting against the big team, but for me on a selfish note, I got to stop and look back at the year in my life, such an important year. I hope that other people really enjoy the season. It was an unusual year in the sport."
Brawn GP formed after Honda withdrew from the sport at the end of 2008, leaving its former technical director Ross Brawn to take over the operation and rename it after himself. With Mercedes engines and a clever interpretation of the aerodynamic rules, Brawn F1 dominated the first half of the season, winning six of the first seven races with drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Button went on to clinch the drivers’ title, while Brawn F1 secured the constructors’ championship.
"When you're racing, you are fully focused on the driving part but the off track stuff and the business side was a tricky time for the team (Brawn GP). We just had enough funds to go racing. It got to the point where the care was too quick so the other teams protested us. It was all about this double diffuser that everyone said that's why we won the World Championship. There were six cars out of the 22 cars on the grid that had a double diffuser. There were two other teams (Toyota and Williams). Everyone seems to forget that. They just didn't perform as well as we did. The reason was because the car was great. Not just the rear diffuser but everything about the car. With Formula 1 cars it's always about aerodynamics and it's how the air flow goes from the front of the car all the way to the back. It doesn't just happen at the back. Ross and the team did such a fabulous job with the car. When you're winning, you always make enemies."
Other teams, especially Ferrari, targeted Brawn and accused that team of cheating, claiming the rear diffuser was illegal. Competitors claimed it gave them an unfair advantage. Brawn desigend the diffuser to exploit a loophole in the regulations that allowed more downforce and better performance.
Several teams protested against Brawn F1’s diffuser at the first race in Australia, but the stewards ruled that it was legal. They took the case to the FIA’s Court of Appeal. ,The court upheld the stewards’ decision and cleared Brawn F1 of any wrongdoing.
"These other teams helped us get onto the grid, which was fantastic. Then we started beating them, it upset them. When you watch the documentary series, it's great because you still see that feeling they have of how they lost that championship to a small team like us. I like those interviews with the likes of the Ferrari boss at the time Luca di Montezemolo, it really does mean something hearing their stories."
Button doesn't think what happened in 2009 could ever happen again with a small team outracing the big teams in the sport.
Even though he retired from Formula 1 racing in 2017, Jenson Button continues to race. He's been competing part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series. What's his next goal?
"I love my endurance racing at the moment. I love the team effort of working with teammates. In F1, the first person you have to beat is your teammate. But it endurance racing your working with your teammates because you are all driving the same car. So, Daytona '24 would be amazing and I might have an opportunity, who knows?"
Below is the rundown of "Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story" on Hulu.
- EPISODE 1 - Part 1
Keanu Reeves tells one of the greatest underdog stories in Formula 1. The story of Brawn GP.
- EPISODE 2 - Part 2
Success for Brawn causes unrest amongst the teams that helped them.
- EPISODE 3 - Part 3
The teams’ revolt against Formula 1 and Brawn GP fights to keep its championship dreams alive.
- EPISODE 4 - Part 4
Can Jenson and Brawn GP transform their nightmarish scenario into a remarkable fairy tale ending.
You can SEE the SportsJam interview with Jenson Button here.