Button 2009 World Champion as Webber Wins in Brazil

October 18, 2009

Jenson Button drove like a champion in this afternoon’s Brazilian Grand Prix to be crowned Formula One World Champion 2009, with Mark Webber taking victory.

Button held it together, putting in some impressive overtaking manoeuvres to prove that he is the worthy champion of the season. While a first lap collision saw the end of Jarno Trulli, Adrian Sutil and Fernando Alonso’s races, Button held his nerve to take the championship with one race left to the season.

Button, who sang Queen’s We Are the Champions over the radio at the end of the race, said: “It is amazing. After the last few races I’ve had this one make up for it and I am world champion baby!” He added: “I never expected to be world champion in F1. We have done it today!”

An emotional Ross Brawn said of Button’s performance: “He had a great race. He knew what he had to do.” He said that it still had to sink in.

And when you look back to just weeks before the start of the season when Honda pulled out of F1 with it looking like Button and teammate Rubens Barrichello would not make the grid in Australia, it is amazing just what the Brawn team have achieved, taking both the drivers’ and the constructors’ title in the same weekend. But at the start of the race it didn’t look hopeful for Button, as with Barrichello on pole it seemed likely the title would go down to the last race in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time.

The Senna ‘S’ on the first lap normally always claims its victims, but everyone got round in one piece, with the hairiest moment being Heikki Kovalainen tripping up and very nearly collecting Giancarlo Fisichella as he went into a spin. But the first lap carnage came after turn five, when Trulli and Sutil collided sending Trulli to the left, and Sutil over the grass to the right, collecting Fernando Alonso as he came back across the track.

Contact between Kimi Raikkonen and Sutil in the first few corners saw damage to Raikkonen’s front wing, and the Finn was soon being passed on track. As the safety car came out, Lewis Hamilton, who had started 17th, pitted, with McLaren switching him to a one-stop strategy. But it was Kovalainen’s stop that caused havoc in the pitlane, as he drove away with his fuel hose attached, spilling fuel, which ignited in Raikkonen’s face as he drove out of his pitbox and down the pitlane behind Heikki. Fortunately, both were able to make a getaway, with the Brawn mechanics releasing Kovalainen’s hose.

At the restart the champion came alive in Button, and while it was Barrichello who had the lead, it was Button making the moves, passing Romain Grosjean on the first lap after the restart, and Kazuki Nakajima on the second. It took him longer to pass rookie Kamui Kobayashi, who stands in for Timo Glock at Toyota after his crash in Suzuka two weeks ago, but after pulling an impressive move into the first corner a bit later in the race, it was all about holding his nerve and bringing it home.

After the first round of pitstops, it was clear Barrichello had lost out, with both second and third placed Webber and Robert Kubica leapfrogging him. With Hamilton one stopping, Barrichello needed to stay in third for six world championship points, with Button no higher than eighth to keep his title hopes alive. But after Barrichello’s second stop, Hamilton soon caught the Brawn driver and passed him for third. Contact between the two resulted in a right rear puncture for Rubens and he had to pit for a third time, and he could manage no higher than eighth and one world championship point.

Going into the race, Sebastian Vettel had been a contender for the title, and having started 15th, just behind Button, Red Bull were hoping for a clean getaway, through the first few corners, but with a safety car to shake things up a bit. That was what they got, and while Webber stormed to victory with a solid performance, Vettel put in a solid drive to finish fourth, to take second in the drivers’ standings with one race to go.

While the champagne is set to flow for Button and Brawn after taking the title, Mark Webber deserves praise for his impressive victory, his second of the season. The Australian driver was able to leapfrog Barrichello in the first round of  pitstops, and after pitting later than his rivals, he was able to maintain the lead as he exited the pits following his first stop. He produced a faultless drive, finishing ahead of Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton. Vettel came through in fourth ahead of the new champion Button in fifth. Despite his first lap woes, Raikkonen came through in sixth ahead of Sebastien Buemi in seventh, and Barrichello in eighth.

Less lucky, Nick Heidfeld ran out of fuel on the track shortly after his first stop, where his fuel rig failed to put fuel into the car, Nico Rosberg retired with gearbox failure, and Kazuki Nakajima went flying off the track at turn four after contact with Kobayashi.

While Button cannot be toppled from the top spot in the championship, second is left to decide, with Vettel now just ahead of Barrichello. Hamilton now sits in fifth behind Webber, having taken a point out of Raikkonen. In the constructors’ championship, while Brawn and Red Bull have secured first and second, McLaren have now snatched third from Ferrari. But with the last round in Abu Dhabi being somewhat of an unknown, anything could happen before the season draws to a close.


The next race is in two weeks, with qualifying on Saturday 31st October and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on Sunday 1st November.


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