Mark Webber drove a strong race and took maximum advantage of a perfect strategy to win the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo but the big winner of the day was Jenson Button as he drove magnificently to finish fifth and clinch the 2009 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in the penultimate race of the season. He had a touch of good luck as well! Pole sitter Rubens Barrichello first lost out on the race lead to Webber and fell down into third place and then picked up a puncture to fall behind Button and thus spell the end of his title challenge.
BMW’s Robert Kubica also drove beautifully as he finished in 2nd place, having started in eighth place. More satisfying would be the 3rd place finish of Lewis Hamilton, who started down in sixteenth place! Sebastian Vettel also had a good race as he finished 4th having started fifteenth. Button took 5th place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in 6th with Sebastian Buemi finishing 7th and Rubens Barrichello taking the last point-scoring position in 8th. Button now has 89 points and an unassailable 15 point lead in the championship with just the one race remaining. Sebastian Vettel leapfrogs Barrichello into 2nd place with 74 points compared to Rubens’ 72. Brawn GP also take the Constructors’ Championship and Red Bull will finish second. Hamilton and McLaren leapfrog ahead of Kimi and Ferrari into 5th place in the drivers’ and 3rd place in the constructors race.
The start of the race was a frenetic one as pole sitter Rubens Barrichello managed to pull away clearly with Mark Webber behind but it was a close run for third place as the KERS-powered Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen came close onto the tail of the Force India of Adrian Sutil and there was some wheel banging and wing touching as Sutil had to squeeze between the Ferrari and Red Bull. Kimi lost his front wing as he tagged the back of Webber and had to make an early pit stop to rectify that. At the tail-end of the field, Heikki Kovalainen got caught into a spin and nearly tagged the Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella behind him. That also brought him into the pits and there was a scary moment therein as Kovalainen drove off with the fuel rig still attached and the Ferrari of Kimi following behind, managed to light up the spraying fumes and causing a flash fire on the Ferrari!
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula One World Champion as the title was decided AFTER the Chequered Flag had waved down on Felipe Massa’s dramatic victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso finished second and Kimi Raikkonen third and that ensured the Constructors’ Championship was won by Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth – just enough to make him Champion. Dramas dominated at the fag end of the race as Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Hamilton with two laps to go thus dropping him to sixth place and thus ensuring Massa would become the Champion but Timo Glock’s Toyota – who was in fourth place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton - slowed down just before the finish line thus giving back fifth position to Hamilton, and thus making him the Champion.
Brazilian Grand Prix Podium Finishers - Fernando Alonso 2nd, Felipe Massa the winner & Kimi Raikkonen 3rd
There was a big surprise in store even before the red lights could go off as the rain started belting down on Interlagos before the formation lap and as a result, the race start was delayed by ten minutes. All the teams then strapped on intermediate tyres as the rain quickly stopped but the track was still wet. The start was pretty much hectic and everyone kept their places but the ones to lose out were David Coulthard, in his last Grand Prix who was tucked into a spin by Nico Rosberg; Heikki Kovalainen who was overtook by Fernando Alonso & Nelson Piquet, who spun out of his home grand prix. Felipe Massa kept his lead but teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to pass second placed Jarno Trulli in the opening laps. Hamilton did what he had to do – stay out of trouble & keep within fifth place – and was scarcely troubled.
Teams’ strategies were compromised as they had to make an extra pit stop to replace the intermediates with dry-weather tyres and temporary advantage-gainers were the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella, who ran as high as fifth before dropping down the order. Trulli also fell steadily down the order and it was Sebastian Vettel who initially troubled Massa at the head of the order. Fernando Alonso kept his good start intact and steadily ran in third place and towards the closing stages, had to fend off a charging Kimi Raikkonen.
But there was some more surprises in store as it started to rain with just five laps to go and all the drivers had to make a splash-and-dash pit stops for fitting on intermediate tyres. And amidst all of that, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel – with a Ferrari engine in the back – pulled off a stunning overtaking manoeuvre over Lewis Hamilton and thus put him in sixth place, which meant if it finished that way, Felipe Massa would become Champion. It was a nail-biting finale and as the Chequered Flag waved down on Felipe Massa, Vettel led Hamilton onto the finish line but crucially ahead of them, the Toyota of Timo Glock slowed down and let these two pass, which meant Vettel had finished fourth and Hamilton fifth, handing the WDC title back to Hamilton! It couldn’t have been scripted better than that!