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!
If the first lap was exciting, the second one was all the more as the Toyota of Jarno Trulli nearly ran into the back of Sutil and in avoiding that, spun off the track into the barriers. Sutil himself spun off and collected the Renault of Fernando Alonso along with him! That brought out the safety car and with just three odd laps, we already had a pretty bunched up field with Barrichello, Webber and Rosberg in the top three positions with the rookies in the midfield and Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel behind them as the McLarens and Ferraris brought up the rear!
At the restart, Kubica managed to get ahead of Rosberg and slotted into third place. Behind him, Jenson Button got held up behind debutante Kamui Kobayashi for a bulk of his first stint and was desperately looking to get ahead, which he had to for making his strategy work. He finally managed to pass him and open up enough of a gap so that he came up into the points and continued to drive aggressively. He was handed some hope as after the first round of pit stops, both Mark Webber and Robert Kubica managed to get ahead of Rubens Barrichello. Nico Rosberg had to retire with a mechanical problem and Williams’ day went from bad to worse as Kazuki Nakajima broke his front wing off the back of the Toyota of Kobayashi and careened off into the barriers. Nick Heidfeld was another retirement, again with mechanical problems.
As the second round of pit stops shook down, few of the early stoppers found themselves mixed up with the front runners and pretty much all of the drivers were on the less-preferred softer tyre compound. Sebastian Vettel managed to get ahead of Jenson Button into fifth place but still wasn’t enough to keep alive his championship hopes. Rubens Barrichello was running in third place but the KERS-equipped McLaren of Lewis Hamilton did manage to get ahead of him, thus ensuring that Jenson Button – even if he finished in sixth – would be crowned champion at the end of the race. And Barrichello’s luck finally ran out as he picked up a puncture (probably in the overtaking manoeuvre of Lewis) and dropped down to eight place. Though Kubica picked up his pace at the end of the race, Webber held on and took his second career victory as the Chequered Flag was waved on by Felipe Massa.
Brawn GP now achieve the distinction of winning the Constructors and Drivers’ title in their first season in F1 and they and Jenson Button translate their early season dominance into championship winning performance as the 2009 F1 season inches towards its close. The last race in Abu Dhabi is now academic as far as the championship battle goes but there will still be several mini-achievements to be fought for. The race will be the first one at the desert track and should make for an exciting watch. Bring.It.On.
Congratulations to Jenson Button and Brawn GP. 🙂