The 2009 Formula One season has been a fairytale for Ross Brawn and his Formula One team. In just the first season in the sport, Brawn GP clinched the constructor’s title way back in mid-season while both their drivers held the top two spots on the race to the championship title going into Brazil. However, only one side of that Brawn team will be really happy as Jenson Button, and his crew, have a World Championship title to celebrate.>
The team radio crackled with “We are the Champions…”, a Jenson Button rendition that showed clearly how much this title has meant to the man. Button has been at the background of most teams & their more “media-savvy” drivers but on Sunday evening, when he grabbed and kissed a random cameraperson through his helmet, the elation of being the best in the world shone through on a fantastic day for the Briton.
The race began with an extraordinary lap.
To the delight of the Brazilian fans lined up in the stands, local lad Rubens Barrichello had qualified in pole, giving the fans something to cheer when they come to the tracks. A must-win situation for Barrichello was coupled with a poor starting spot for Button and a poorer-still, spot for Sebastian Vettel.
There was drama from the word go at Interlagos. On turn one, Sebastien Vettel sent Heikki Kovalainen into a spin while Mark Webber broke Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing. The biggest was yet to come as Jarno Trulli tried an improbable maneuver around Adrian Sutil’s Force India, but ran onto the grass before spinning in a bid to compensate for the off-track run. Trulli smashed into Sutil and sent the Force India spinning into the Renault of Fernando Alonso. >
The safety car came out as first Kovalainen, then Raikkonen, brought their cars in for repairs. Kovalainen sped out of the pit box but the fuel hose had remained attached to his car, almost dragging a crew member along. The ripped hose spilt fuel all over the pit lane and Raikkonen, leaving his pit box behind Kovalainen, drove through the fuel, setting it ablaze. For a moment, Raikkonen’s car was engulfed in flames but an instant later, the fuel had burnt out causing little damage, if any.
The Brawn pit crew took the hose of Kovalainen’s car as he stopped up front, before heading back out onto the track again.
Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli got into a tussle with Adrian Sutil as the Italian pushed the German around, clearly blaming him for the crash that saw both go out from promising places on the grid. However, Trulli had simply tried an astonishing maneuver and unsurprisingly, failed to complete it in those tight starting moments of the race.
Trulli was, later, fined by the stewards for unsporting behaviour in what they found to be a fair accident. >
Jenson Button followed the safety car period with a succession of overtaking maneuvers before getting stuck behind rookie Kamui Kobiyashi. Rubens Barrichello had swapped speed for longevity as he started the race with a lower fuel load. Failing to lose Mark Webber and Robert Kubica, Barrichello pitted at lap 21, his normal schedule despite the safety car period.
Barrichello came out of the pits and ran straight into the Kobiyashi motorcade, just ahead of Vettel. Vettel went past the Brawn with ease and Barrichello was left to hold off Lewis Hamilton. Kubica, taking advantages of these holdups, came in for his stop and headed out ahead of the Brazilian.
Things weren’t going right for Barrichello and it seemed that the season was over for him even at this early stage. >
Webber came in for his stop and left again, still in the lead. Button, right behind Webber, decided to come into the pits a lap earlier than scheduled, just to avoid the fully-loaded Red Bull racecar of Webber. The move was almost disastrous as he left the pit lane and hit Monday traffic on a Sunday afternoon.
Barrichello was heard, at this point, franctically asking his team “What’s happened to the car?”. Due to the early safety car phase, and the pitstops taken under it, all strategies were muddled up and no one could predict what was going to happen next.
The rain, that was to help Barrichello, never came and Hamilton nearly lost it all on the exit of the pit lane, almost causing McLaren’s second pit-lane-endangering maneuver of the day.
Barrichello was left to battle it out with Hamilton and the tussle left Hamilton without an end-plate of the front wing while giving the Brazilian a puncture. >
The race ended with Webber grabbing a race win and Robert Kubica coming in for a very well deserved second place. Third place, surprisingly, went to Lewis Hamilton who wasn’t looking likely for such a finish having started 18th from the grid. Sebastian Vettel finished ahead of a fifth-placed Jenson Button, having started from 15th place himself while the newly crowned World Champion had done just enough to gain a well-earned 5th place.
Kimi Raikkonen drove through fire to end up in 6th while Buemi and Barrichello finished the 7th and 8th spots in the points table.
Although Button may have a host of accidents and his low-starting spot to thank for escaping the mid-field melee, he will still emerge as the best driver for 2009, having held off a brave Rubens Barrichello.
Rubinho will be quite disheartened with his race performance especially after doing excellently in qualifying. However, some poor decisions and manuevers led to his undoing. Sebastien Vettel may have been third in the race for the title but in all honesty, the title challenge depended more on Button’s mistakes rather than Vettel or Barrichello’s abilities.
Undoubtedly, the Brit sealed his incredible season with a world championship title and celebrating wildly from the cockpit of his Brawn, as one-time championship contender Felipe Massa waved the chequered flag, there was no doubt that the party will be on till late, back home in England.