Opportunity is a golden commodity in motor racing. Recognise it for what it is and wring absolutely everything from it, because it won't always be there. There will be times when you will be just waiting for the next golden moment. The more you maximise these opportunities, the more other opportunities will tend to come your way, but there might be big gaps in between.
Jenson Button knows this. He spent nine years waiting to get his backside into a car as good as the Brawn. Now that it's happened, he's not about to let anything go.
"I've become a bit of a boring bastard this year," he said at Monaco, "because in between races I'm studying all the data, looking at everything, thinking about how to improve, asking the engineers stuff, whereas before I would work hard at the track but just chill in between."
It's something that Ross Brawn has noticed: "Any competitive person, when they get an opportunity, focuses on that opportunity. When you're at the sharp end it's in your thoughts all the time. Last year I'm sure Jenson was glad to forget about it when the race was over. This year he wants to think about it. It's nice to hear but it doesn't surprise me."
Ross has as his benchmark Michael Schumacher, maybe the hardest working driver of all time. Together Brawn and Schumacher - and the staff around them - squeezed the juice from every single opportunity and as a consequence those opportunities began to come more often. But even they went through times when it deserted them. After his 2005 season - when the ban on tyre changes rendered Ferrari and Bridgestone uncompetitive - Schumacher admitted to difficulties in staying as motivated as he was when in a more competitive situation. "Sometimes there is just no juice left in the lemon," was how he described it.
"I worked with Michael for 15 years," continued Ross, "and this is only my second year with Jenson so it is very difficult to make comparisons. Both are obviously highly talented and I think this opportunity that Jenson has got has made him focus very hard on what is happening and why it is happening - and even though they are very different characters, they are similar in this respect."
Robert Kubica knows all about opportunity's fickle nature too: "Last year I was pushing the team to convince them I could push for the championship. I was saying a second chance might not be there again. It might come one year later, five years later, 10 years..."
He finds himself in a BMW that is clearly not going to give him the opportunity of a title this year, that is a very long way from being as competitive as the car he took to the lead of the world championship part way through 2008 before the team ceased serious development - to concentrate on the '09 car, ironically as it turns out.
"Sure, I like to win when possible," adds Kubica. "But frustration doesn't help. It's a normal way of racing. Sometimes you are on top, sometimes not. The time is very important, so we have to make sure we can come back as quickly as possible and if we can come back to fight for the top positions - either this year, in three races, 10 races, never... we will see."
At Monaco, the BMWs were joined at the back by the same Toyotas that two races ago were fighting it out at the front. They ran the first stint in Bahrain 1-2, but faded to a 3-7 finish after an over-conservative tyre choice for their middle stints.
That choice, like that of BMW in deciding to forgo last year's opportunity, smacked of not recognising the rare thing that opportunity can be, of being over-confident that you can control it. You sometimes get the illusion of control, but it's nothing more than that.
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