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Brazil race analysis - Button and Brawn get the job done 19 Oct 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix and Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix celebrate with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates victory.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 celebrates his second position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates his third position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009

Mark Webber drove a near perfect Brazilian Grand Prix, but his win was too little too late to keep Red Bull in the hunt for the constructors’ title. Similarly, there was nothing the Australian could do to prevent team mate Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of the drivers’ crown evaporating. Instead it was Brawn’s Jenson Button who was singing ‘We are the champions’ as the chequered flag fell. He’d made up nine places on his P14 grid slot, while team mate and polesitter Rubens Barrichello had lost seven, sealing the destiny of both championships in the process…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P1
Sebastian Vettel P4

Webber had an almost perfect day, preserving his Red Bull’s rubber in the early going as he chased Barrichello and fended off Kubica, then pulling out a big gap after out-running them in the first round of pit stops. Thereafter it was just a matter of bringing the car home, his only real problems being to rein in his natural urge to push, and the fact that his second success was overshadowed by Button’s. Vettel made ground fast in the opening laps, and felt that fourth was the best he could have expected after his qualifying drama. Like Barrichello, he was philosophical that his title chance was over, but was also happy to have overtaken the Brazilian. Red Bull were likewise resigned to Brawn wrapping up the constructors’ championship.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P2
Nick Heidfeld, Retired lap 22, fuel rig problem

Kubica admitted that he was surprised by his BMW Sauber’s pace, especially as he had to wind down the revs from the 15th lap when the engine showed signs of overheating. He was also unlucky to get stuck behind four cars after his first pit stop, which allowed Webber to increase his lead, but otherwise he was grateful for a strong result in what has been a really tough season. Heidfeld was one of several drivers who qualified way down to get the breaks on the opening lap. He was pushing Vettel hard when he made his first stop, and thereafter he ground to a halt out of fuel after his refuelling rig short-changed him.

Lewis Hamilton, P3
Heikki Kovalainen, P9, penalised to P12

Hamilton benefited when McLaren changed their refuelling strategy under the safety car, and got the hammer down in a fabulous but tough drive that took him from 17th on the grid to the podium by the chequered flag. It was a typical feisty showing from the world champion. Kovalainen’s race was ruined at the start when Vettel tapped him into a spin, then came the early release from his pit stop which left him trailing his rig’s hose. McLaren were fined $50,000 for making an unsafe release, while Kovalainen was subsequently adjudged a drive-through penalty after the race; 25s was hence added to his race time, dropping him from ninth to 12th.

Rubens Barrichello, P8
Jenson Button, P5

Button was absolutely delirious after a fantastic drive brought him the fifth place points that he needed to cement his world championship. After a few wobbly races his was a fighting performance that made him a worthy champion. It also sealed the constructors’ championship for an emotional Ross Brawn, making his team the first in history to win the title in its first season. Poor old Barrichello led initially from pole, but lacked the ultimate pace to fend off Webber after the first stops, or Kubica. Later, while fighting for third with Hamilton, his BGP001 sustained a puncture that dropped him down to an unhappy eighth place finish and finally killed his own world title aspirations.

Kimi Raikkonen, P6
Giancarlo Fisichella, P11, classified P10

Raikkonen had an adventurous race, with a first-corner swipe from Sutil which punctured his left rear Bridgestone, then a clash in which he wrecked his front wing hitting Webber. After his forced pit stop at the end of that opening lap he literally had to run through fire after Kovalainen’s premature exit from the McLaren pit. All things considered, the Finn did well to take sixth place. Fisichella had to avoid a spinning Kovalainen at the bottom of the first turn on the opening lap, switched to a one-stop strategy, and then suffered when his KERS operated intermittently.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P7
Jaime Alguersuari, P14

Once again Buemi drove a nice race, and deserved his two points after a strong showing for Toro Rosso. They were his first since China. Alguersuari was happy just to finish after his dramas in Japan.

Kamui Kobayashi, P10, classified P9
Jarno Trulli, Retired lap one, collision

Button was quite critical of Kobayashi’s tactics, especially under braking, but the Japanese rookie did a good job to finish 10th on his debut after running ahead of the champion-elect for a while. He survived a major brush with Nakajima along the way, and generally acquitted himself well. Trulli was livid with Sutil after their first-lap clash, but the stewards sided with the German and fined the Italian $10,000 for disobeying marshals’ orders and remonstrating with Sutil.

Force India
Tonio Liuzzi, P12, classified P11
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap one, collision

Sutil had a brush with Raikkonen in the first corner as the KERS system in the Ferrari boosted it into third place. Then he got hit by Trulli, and exited the race in spectacular style. Liuzzi made a first-lap pit stop to get rid of his supersoft tyres which would not have lasted long on a car with so little downforce. His first stint on mediums was good, but subsequently he had oversteer on his second set of them.

Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 27, gearbox
Kazuki Nakajima, Retired lap 31, collision

Brazil seemed to promise so much for Williams, but it all went wrong again. Rosberg was running fourth when his gearbox malfunctioned, while Nakajima was eliminated in spectacular style after a clash with Kobayashi.

Romain Grosjean, P13
Fernando Alonso, Retired lap one, collision

Grosjean gained experience bringing his R29 home 13th, complaining that it lacked grip, but Alonso was the innocent victim when Sutil came back on track after his clash with Trulli, and was a first-lap retirement.