World of F1: Brawn supremacy up front and Ferrari flagging at the rear, this upside-down grid is full of seasonal cheer


Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates victory in China

New kid on the block: Red Bull driver Vettel celebrates victory in China

It may be what 40,000 miles of air travel in three weeks does to your faculties, but I do not think it crazy to suggest that we are witnessing the stirrings of a season for the annals.

There has been the emergence of Jenson Button and his Brawn GP car, with wins in dry Australia and monsoon-tossed Malaysia. The boys from the estate had taken on and beaten the rich kids up the road.

Hail the radical revamp of the regulations introduced this season. Hail Max Mosley, the FIA president, for his part in that.

The grid is upside down and the racing keener for it.

Then, just as it looked as if Brawn's supremacy was in danger of carrying Button to his first world championship title long before the end of the 17-race programme, up pop Red Bull and their German protege Sebastian Vettel to triumph at China last Sunday.

Although they have been consistently quick, it may well prove that his win, reinforced by team-mate Mark Webber's second place, owed much to the wet conditions and that the Brawns will reassert their dominance in Bahrain this weekend.

Even if they do, we can hear the hooves of the chasing pack.

Listen out for Toyota, clearly brisk and surely near to claiming their first victory.

Jenson Button in his Brawn GP car takes a corner in Shanghai

Racing line: Jenson Button in his Brawn GP car takes a corner in Shanghai


As for the big beasts, McLaren are showing glimpses of improvement. Ferrari, though struggling abjectly, are throwing everything at their machine to find speed and save face. But will it not be too late?

If not in Bahrain, then during the early part of the European season - at Spain and Monaco - Brawn's pursuers will make serious upgrades. Will they be enough to outdo Brawn's own enhancement package?

Will the Red Bulls, under the design leadership of Adrian Newey, then set the new mark after fitting the double diffuser device which is thought integral to Brawn's current pace?

Will Button demonstrate that he is more than a brilliantly smooth driver, unflappable when in charge of a race, and show that he can wring out results by grappling for position wheel to wheel? His championship fate may hinge on the answer.

Vettel streaks to victory in the Chinese Grand Prix

Spray way: Vettel streaks to victory in the Chinese Grand Prix

It takes a crystal ball and a doctorate in physics to get close to definitive predictions. But that it is what this season of early delivery and glorious promise is turning out to represent: the unknown and the unexpected from the unheralded.

Lewis Hamilton

Big hitter: Lewis Hamilton

Remind me, what was Lewis Hamilton's classification at the Australian Grand Prix?

Look at the factsheet McLaren presented to the media in China last week and you would think he had come third.

Which he did, of course, before being disqualified. Who says McLaren cannot get even the simplest things right?

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One of Grand Prix racing's newer varieties of alphabet soup - FOTA, or the Formula One Teams' Association - appears to be past its sell-by date already.

Formed last year amid fanfare, it is decaying. Asked whether it will be able to remain united, Williams' chief executive Adam Parr said: 'I think it is unquestionably a challenge.'

Renault boss Flavio Briatore (right) with friend

Lot of front: Renault boss Flavio Briatore (right) with friend

It may be too late for that. The rot set in when four teams - Renault, Red Bull, Ferrari and BMW - challenged the double diffusers used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams.

Ross Brawn

Brains behind Brawn GP: Ross Brawn

Legal fees and courtroom vituperation ensued, with Ferrari's coruscating QC Nigel Tozzi accusing the team's former engineering guru Ross Brawn of 'supreme arrogance' at his eponymous championship-leading team.

Then Renault team principal Flavio Briatore sauntered into the argument, with his Latin shrugs and one-liners.

He called on Brawn to resign as head of FOTA's technical working group, adding that any Chinese taxi driver would do a better job.

Brawn advised him to change his medication.

It shows that in the heat of battle, far removed from their cosy conclave in Geneva, FOTA's membership return to all their competitive and selfish instincts.

It's about survival of the quickest and well-meant intentions go straight out of the cockpit. That's why Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone still rule.

They suspected the words generated at this talking shop would not last a hundredth of a second when the engines were switched on.