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Barrichello Heads Brawn 1-2 in Monza

September 13, 2009

Rubens Barrichello took two more points out of teammate Jenson Button’s championship lead this afternoon, taking victory in a tense Italian Grand Prix, that saw pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton ditch his McLaren on the final lap.

Hamilton took an early lead from pole, putting in fastest lap after fastest lap to pull out a comfortable lead over Kimi Raikkonen, who had snatched second off Adrian Sutil on the first lap. With the front three on a different strategy to the Brawns, Hamilton was the first to pit on lap 15, rejoining the track behind Barrichello and Button in 3rd and 4th respectively.

Lewis regained the lead after both Button and Barrichello pitted for their first and only scheduled stop of the afternoon on laps 28 and 29 respectively. On lap 34, Hamilton was in again having only managed to pull out a 16 second lead over Barrichello. He rejoined behind Button, and it was there that the fight for victory began.

Barrichello had it in the bag, with the one-stop strategy working in the Brawn team’s favour, and it was Button who needed to hold off the charging Hamilton. With the gap down to a second between the two Brits, Rubens had the victory in touching distance on the final lap, while an aggressive Hamilton, hungry to snatch back second, pushed too hard and dropped his McLaren on the exit of the first Lesmo, having just set the fastest time for the first sector, for the whole race.

Hamilton said of the incident: “Every lap I was pushing like a qualifying lap. I was pushing as hard as I could.” He apologised to the fans and to the team for the accident.

Martin Whitmarsh said that Lewis’s accident just showed his aggression to racing, pushing as hard as he could to gain second in the closing stages of the race.

It seemed Brawn chose the perfect strategy for both their drivers, as the two-stoppers of Hamilton, Raikkonen and Sutil, who had all qualified on the front two rows of the grid, failed to maintain their lead when it mattered. Barrichello said of his win: “It feels great, like I said on the lap after the chequered flag. I have no words.” He added: “The car was there all the time, and it felt great.”

Barrichello’s win edges him closer to Button in the drivers standings, with just 14 points now separating the two. Sebastian Vettel, who currently sits third in the standings, is twelve points behind Barrichello, managing to pick up a single point in eighth after Hamilton’s accident. Mark Webber remains fourth in the championship after his race finished on the first lap after a tap from Robert Kubica sent him sideways into the gravel trap.

Prior to the race there had been high hopes for Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who fuel corrected, would have been on pole. However Heikki, who started fourth with a heavy fuel load, lost out to fifth place starter Barrichello at the beginning of the first lap, and a half a lap later lost fifth to Button in the second Lesmo corner. From there his afternoon remained rather quiet, and he finished sixth, bringing home just three points for the McLaren team.

Kimi Raikkonen filled the final step of the podium following Hamilton’s crash, finishing just ahead of Sutil. Fernando Alonso finished fifth ahead of Kovalainen in sixth, Nick Heidfeld in seventh and Sebastian Vettel in eighth.

As the European leg of the season draws to a close, all eyes are now on the Brawn boys for the final four races of the season. With Button maintaining a comfortable gap of 26 points to third place man Vettel, it is looking more likely that the title fight will be between Button and Barrichello.

 

The next race takes place on the flood-lit streets of Singapore, with qualifying on Saturday 26th September, and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on the 27th.

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One comment

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