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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Webber wins; Button, Brawn lock up titles in Brazil

Throughout the second half of this Formula One season, many were asking for Jenson Button to drive like a champion. In Brazil, that’s exactly what he did, coming from 14th on the grid to finish fifth and take the 2009 drivers championship.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Race


Fifth and eighth from Rubens Barrichello were enough to clinch the constructors title for Brawn, as well, capping off a storybook season for a team left for dead last December when Honda announced it was leaving the sport.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, Mark Webber drove a brilliant race to win his second of the season. Robert Kubica was second in the BMW Sauber, and Lewis Hamilton came from 17th on the grid to take the final podium spot.

Button was on it from the start, benefitting from some first lap shenanigans to jump to ninth by the end of the lap. Jarno Trulli, Adrian Sutil and Fernando Alonso all saw their races come to a premature end.

A furious Trulli was all over Sutil when they got out of the cars, though an investigation ruled it a racing incident. The stewards did not take kindly to Trulli’s actions, however, reprimanding and fining him for ‘failing to leave the track as required by the marshals immediately after the incident and aggressively confronting Sutil.’

Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen both were forced to pit at the end of the lap. More drama ensued as Kovalainen was released early, with fuel hose attached, and Raikkonen was forced through a ring of fire as a result.

That, too, drew the attention of the FIA, and McLaren was fined for the incident and Kovalainen handed a drive-through post race (25 seconds added to his time).

On the restart, as Barrichello tried to pull away from Webber, Button went to work making up more ground. He soon dispatched Romain Grosjean, Kazuki Nakajima, and impressive Toyota rookie Kamui Kobayashi.

Unfortunately for Barrichello, he did not have enough car for Webber today, and after pitting the Australian took the lead. Not only that, he also lost a spot to Kubica, and it looked as though the Brazilian’s notorious bad luck at Interlagos was once again rearing its ugly head.

Sure enough, under pressure from Hamilton, who changed to a one-stop strategy after the safety car at the start of the race, Barrichello suffered a puncture that forced him to make a third stop and dropped him to eighth and gave Button fifth.

After the weekend’s antics, Webber was quoted as wanting a boring afternoon. He got his wish, and the Red Bull driver had a quiet road the rest of the way to the checkered flag, having driven an absolutely superb race.

But the day rightly belongs to Button and Brawn GP. Button believed, despite his qualifying position, he could finish fifth or sixth today, and was proved right. Though he had a share of the good luck he has benefitted from all season, he did it by driving like a champion, taking risks when necessary, and not making dumb mistakes.

For a man who didn’t know if he’d have a job at the beginning of the season, so often dismissed as not good enough, it would take a hard heart not to smile as he sang “We are the champions my friends!” over the radio to his team.

Next up, the final race of the season at the brand new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix (71 laps)
  1. Mark Webber, RedBull-Renault
  2. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Mercedes
  4. Sebastian Vettel, RedBull - Renault
  5. Jenson Button, Brawn - Mercedes
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  7. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  8. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn - Mercedes
  9. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota
  10. Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari
  11. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India-Mercedes
  12. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren - Mercedes*
  13. Romain Grosjean, Renault +1 lap
  14. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso - Ferrari +1 lap
  • Kazuki Nakajima, Williams - Toyota, 30 laps completed, Accident
  • Nico Rosberg, Williams - Toyota, 27 laps, Gearbox
  • Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 21 laps, Out of fuel
  • Fernando Alonso, Renault, 0 laps, Accident
  • Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 0 laps, Accident
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 0 laps, Accident
*penalty

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