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Button Produces Faultless Win at Monaco

May 24, 2009

The Monaco Grand Prix is the showcase of the Formula One season, where narrow streets and slow-speed corners wind their way past the casino, through the tunnel, and alongside the glamourous harbour. Qualifying means all or nothing to your race: put it on pole and you’re halfway to victory, but drop it in the barrier in quali one and you may as well watch the race from onboard Flavio Briatore’s lavish yacht.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton proved just that this afternoon. After placing his Brawn on the front row of the grid in qualifying yesterday, Jenson made a storming start to turn his pole into victory and edge his way even further into the lead of the championship. After breaking late into Mirabeau in quali one yesterday, and incurring a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, Lewis started 19th and could only manage 12th in a drawn-out race at the Monte Carlo circuit.

Flashback to this time last year and Lewis Hamilton won the race in spectacular style, despite a puncture to one of his tyres after an early collision with a barrier. Then it was raining, today it was hot. Then he was driving a fast car, today he was driving an injured car. Then he won in car 22, today it was Button’s turn to win in car 22.

Button’s drive couldn’t have been more faultless, in fact the only error he made all afternoon was where he parked his car at the end of it. Unlike the other races on the calendar where park ferme is in the pit lane, Monaco sees the top three cars line up on the grid in front of the podium. But in the true fashion that comes with a driver who has rarely been at the top- and never won the Monaco Grand Prix- Button parked his Brawn in the pits, meaning he had to run back to the grid for the podium ceremony. Still, considering some of the errors that are frequently made at this narrow street circuit, this was only a minor blunder, and somewhat amusing at that.

Button’s getaway was quick, but it was teammate Rubens Barrichello who made the fastest move off the grid from third to second, passing Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen before he could even think about hitting his KERS button.

Button lead for the majority of the race, gifting the lead to Rosberg on lap 16 at his first pitstop, only to re-claim the lead a lap later, and again to Raikkonen at the second pitstop for two laps.

Raikkonen’s teammate Felipe Massa showed that Ferrari are on the move again after a slow start to the 2009 season. Raikkonen finished alongside the Brawn drivers on the podium, with Massa following closely behind. Mark Webber was the sole Red Bull to pass the chequered flag after Sebastian Vettel clipped the barrier on the exit of turn one early on in the race.

Despite running third before his first pitstop, Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen lost control of his McLaren going past the swimming pool in the last third of the race, and became one of five retirees.

After six races of the 2009 season, and with Button claiming victory at all but one, it appears Lewis Hamilton needs to get a move on if he wants to defend his title. His fellow Brit has set the pace for the remainder of the season, and with his 16 point lead over teammate Barrichello, and 42 over Hamilton, it is clear that Lewis and indeed the rest of the pack have some catching up to do. After Hamilton’s second pitstop, his lack of pace in the first half of the race became apparent to be his front wing which was broken early on. The defending champion soon picked up the pace in his final stint, proving the McLaren is more than capable to match the pace of the Brawn. Towards the end of the race Hamilton made a charge and managed to improve on his race-long second-to-last position. However the champion has some catching up to do in the coming races if he wants to retain his title at Abu Dhabi in eleven races time.

As for Button, he can leave for the next race in Turkey knowing that he is somewhat unstoppable. He went into the race saying he was taking each race as it came and would only worry about the championship come the final race in November, but surely if anyone is going to catch him, they’re going to have to pull something out of the bag, and sooner rather than later…

 

The next race is in Turkey in a fortnights time, with qualifying at 12pm on 6th June, and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on the 7th.

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