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Unstoppable Button Takes Victory in Turkey

June 7, 2009

In the four year history of the Turkish Grand Prix, the winner has always started from pole. Kimi Raikkonen turned pole position into victory in 2005, and Felipe Massa made a hat-trick of poles and wins in 2006, 07 and 08. But as the lights went out at the Istanbul Park circuit for the seventh race of the 2009 championship, Jenson Button accelerated away on a mission to prove you could still win from P2. As he took the chequered flag 58 laps later, he had a clear message for his rivals: that he is unstoppable. 

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel didn’t have an answer for Button. After running wide in turn nine on the first lap he gifted the lead to the Brawn, and despite chasing him down in the second stint, the Red Bull struggled to overtake in its dirty air. 

After losing the lead to Button early on, Vettel, who was on a three stop strategy, had a lighter car than the Brawn and was able to close the gap on Jenson by less than a second. However, with his teammate Mark Webber two stopping, Vettel could not make up enough time to catch him after his final pit stop, and the German finished in third behind Webber.

Button’s teammate Rubens Barrichello was less fortunate, and despite starting on the clean side of the grid, problems with the clutch off the start line saw him slip back through the pack behind Heikki Kovalainen who had started in 14th. The pair spent the first few laps of the race jostling for 11th position, with Barrichello overtaking Kovalainen into the final corner of lap 6, only for the Finn to hit his KERS button and claim the position back on the start/ finish straight. Contact between the pair a lap later put Barrichello in a spin, and he soon found himself trading Heikki’s McLaren for that of Lewis Hamilton who had been running in 17th. Barrichello’s bad luck didn’t end there and the Brazilian retired on lap 49 after having spent most of the race without seventh gear. His retirement is the first for Brawn since making their F1 debut in the 2009 championship.

For Massa and Raikkonen they finished 6th and 9th respectively, with the McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen finishing 13th and 14th. After failing to score points in the last three races, fans of the Woking-based team are calling for an updated car to be introduced following a bad showing so far this season. The car appears to be difficult to drive, with Hamilton lacking significant pace through turn eight, and losing track position to several of the slower cars on numerous occasions. The reigning world champ appears to have admitted defeat in recent races, and a new, mature approach spells that the Brit is focusing on enjoying the drive for this year, and getting competitive again for next year.

Whilst last year’s champion struggles in his McLaren, Button is proving race-on-race to be unstoppable. With 61 championship points and an advantage of 26 over his closest rival, teammate Barrichello, Button appears to be in the zone, in a league of his own. Despite having more fuel onboard at the start of the race to Vettel’s Red Bull, he managed to pull out a significant lead over the German early on. With the championship just short of the half way stage, it looks like Jenson could well be on his way to championship glory in 2009.

 

But will Button be making it seven out of eight races at Silverstone in two weeks time? The British Grand Prix will be making its final appearance at the Northampton circuit in a fortnight, with qualifying on Saturday and the race at 1pm on Sunday 21st on BBC One.

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