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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Four of five for Button and Brawn

There was a lot of talk about Brawn facing a stiffer challenge when the series mades its way back home to Europe, but in the end, it was Jenson Button and Brawn GP who dominated Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

F1 Grand Prix of Spain - Race

Taking advantage of a change in strategy following a safety car period brought about by a four-car pile-up on the first lap, Button took his fourth win of five ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Mark Webber finished third in his Red Bull, breaking through past Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in the final stages of the race as the Brazilian was forced to conserve fuel. Stablemate Sebastian Vettel was fourth.

Massa would also fall to hometown favorite Fernando Alonso on the final lap, having to settle for sixth after an otherwise outstanding race.

Nick Heidfeld picked up two points for BMW Sauber, and Nico Rosberg finished eighth to round out the points scorers.

The first lap accident was in many ways the story of the race, eliminating Jarno Trulli, the Toro Rossos and Adrian Sutil, and bringing out the safety car for five laps.

As Barrichello took off in the lead when the safety car came in, teams scrambled to alter their strategies. Brawn chose to take Button off the three-stopper they had Barrichello running, and it proved to be the correct decision.

It was a difficult day for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton lapped and both cars out of the points. The World Champion lamented not having a car to challenge for the title. Also out of the points were Toyota and BMW Sauber, and Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella was the final classified runner.

Two other retirements of note: Heikki Kovalainen due to gearbox issues, and Kimi Raikkonen on lap 18. Raikkonen also suffered from KERS issues after using the system to give him a great boost at the start.

Spanish Grand Prix (66 Laps)
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn - Mercedes
  2. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn - Mercedes
  3. Mark Webber, Red Bull - Renault
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - Renault
  5. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  7. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams - Toyota
  9. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Mercedes, +1
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota, +1
  11. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, +1
  12. Nelson Piquet, Renault, +1
  13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams - Toyota, +1
  14. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India - Mercedes, +1
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 17 Laps
  • Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren - Mercedes, 7 Laps, Gearbox
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso - Ferrari, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso - Ferrari, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Adrian Sutil, Force India - Mercedes, 0 Laps, Accident

Rubens Barrichello was visibly disappointed to see his win slip away. Was it another case of Ross Brawn favoring one driver over another? Brad Spurgeon has some thoughts on that.

So does James Allen, who also thinks Button is now “uncatchable.”

Romain Grosjean won race one while Edoardo Mortara took race 2. Find out more here.

Helio Castroneves took pole for this year’s edition of the Indy 500 on a good day for Penske. Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti round out the front row. See first day qualifying results and qualification for places 12-22 here.


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