Europe race analysis - Barrichello wins, Button trails 24 Aug 2009
As Rubens Barrichello revelled in his return to form at Valencia, winning his first race in five years and his first with Brawn GP, team mate and championship leader Jenson Button again found himself on a damage limitation exercise, failing to find the same pace in his BGP001. Despite still leading the standings by 18 points, Button has averaged less than three points per race over the last four Grands Prix, and only had Red Bulls poor showing to thank for his still considerable advantage. We examine Sundays action team by team
Rubens Barrichello, P1
Jenson Button, P7
Barrichello was cock-a-hoop to score Brazils 100th Grand Prix victory and Bridgestones 150th, and his first since he left Ferrari in 2004. He has been threatening to do it all year, and he said his BGP001 was almost perfect as he kept Kovalainen under pressure until slipping ahead during the first stops then taking advantage when McLaren fumbled Hamiltons second. His success, which gave Brawn 10 of their days 12 points, highlighted the trouble Button is in lately. The Englishman virtually maintained his points advantage - losing a half point thanks to Barrichellos win - but showed no sign of digging himself out of the bunker he has been in since Silverstone. Brawn, however, pulled clear again of Red Bull, with 126 points to their 98.5.
Lewis Hamilton, P2
Heikki Kovalainen, P4
For a while it seemed that the 250th race for the McLaren-Mercedes alliance would yield their second victory of the season, but there was a mix-up calling Hamilton in for his second pit stop on the 37th lap. First he was told to come in, then to do one more lap, but by the time he got the second message he was already pitbound, and his front tyres were still attached to their heaters in the garage. That delay proved crucial, and according to some - though not the team - lost them the race. Hamilton was gracious about it and said they win and lose as a team, and there was no denying that the MP4-24 is a much improved machine. Kovalainen could not keep ahead of either Barrichello or Raikkonen, but 13 points boosted the team to fourth place overall ahead of Toyota, and only five behind Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen, P3
Luca Badoer, P17
Raikkonen said his car felt pretty good most of the way through the race, after a great KERS-assisted start put him in immediate contention for the final podium place. Badoers performance was woeful, as he circulated at the back of the field and finished 17th overall with Nakajimas delayed Williams the only classified finisher behind him.
Nico Rosberg, P5
Kazuki Nakajima, P18
Yet again Nico Rosberg was in the thick of things for Williams, his fifth place marking his seventh consecutive points finish and his ninth of the season. Hed entertained thoughts of keeping ahead of Raikkonen, but soon had to concede there was no way that was going to happen. He said that the FW31 now seems to suit every circuit on which it races, and that the level of development is gratifying. A podium is an increasingly likely possibility given just a little bit better fortune. Nakajima has been short on that lately, and Valencia was no exception. A puncture on lap 38 really hurt his chances of a top 10 finish, and then he was called in to retire with two laps to go just in case his gearbox had been strained by the slow running back to the pits when the tyre failed.
Fernando Alonso, P6
Romain Grosjean, P15
As usual, Alonso got the best out of his Renault R29, and today that was sixth place. He said it was tough because of the heat and the need to push throughout during a series of battles. Grosjean had problems on the opening lap when his front wing was damaged in traffic and he had to pit for a replacement. Later he lost time with a half spin.
Robert Kubica, P8
Nick Heidfeld, P11
Kubica lost out in the early going but then reported good pace on his shorter stints. He was able to pass Webber in the second stops, which meant the difference between scoring the final point and losing out. That was the first time BMW Sauber had scored since Silverstone. Heidfeld finished 11th yet again, after letting Kubica by because he was running a lighter fuel load. Then he had to fend off Sutil, which proved crucial because when Kovalainen rejoined after his second stop the German could not attack him even though he was running lighter because he had lost ground on the leading group.
Mark Webber, P9
Sebastian Vettel Retired lap 24, engine
Webber didnt mince words and said the long and short of it was that he wasnt quick enough, meaning he and the RB5. He had struggled all weekend. Vettel was running fifth at the time of his first pit stop on lap 16, but then had to make another on lap 17 because they werent able to get the fuel into the car first time around. Subsequently he lost the engine seven laps later, giving the team their first pointless race since Australia.
Adrian Sutil, P10
Giancarlo Fisichella, P12
Both drivers fought hard, but 10th and 12th places were the best they could realistically have hoped for.
Jarno Trulli, P13
Timo Glock, P14
This was another poor race for Toyota. Trulli made nothing from the start, and struggled immediately for grip just as he had in qualifying before his first stop on lap 34. Glock pitted for repairs after a first-lap brush with Buemi, then ran until lap 32 before refuelling. Curiously, he was then able to set fastest lap in the closing stages, for no reason that was immediately apparent to his team!
Jaime Alguersuari, P16
Sebastien Buemi, retired lap 42, spin
Buemi ran into trouble on the opening lap after a front wing-damaging brush with Glock prompted an unscheduled pit stop for replacement. Thereafter he ran at the back until a brake disc problem halted him on the 42nd lap. Alguersuari found the race much tougher than Hungary, and with 10 laps to go couldnt get anything from his drinks bottle.