Button and Brawn clinch title double as Webber wins in Brazil 18 Oct 2009
Jenson Button went into the Brazilian Grand Prix looking for a miracle. And he found it. After 60 of the 71 laps, as Mark Webber swept to a dominant victory for Red Bull ahead of BMW Saubers Robert Kubica and a fighting Lewis Hamilton, he had done enough. And a late puncture for Brawn GP team mate Rubens Barrichello, which elevated him to fifth, merely eased his path to glory.
It made him the 10th Briton to take the title, and marked the first time England has celebrated back-to-back drivers' champions. At the same time, his success was more than sufficient to cement the constructors crown for Brawn, a unique and historic achievement in their first season.
Right from the start Button benefited from carnage to jump up from his 14th grid place to ninth at the end of a dramatic first lap.
It began when Kimi Raikkonens Ferrari brushed wheels with Adrian Sutils Force India going into the first corner. Then Sebastian Vettels Red Bull tagged Heikki Kovalainens McLaren on the exit, the Finn spinning and forcing Ferraris Giancarlo Fisichella to run on to the grass in avoidance.
Further round the lap Jarno Trulli pulled his Toyota alongside Sutil but lost control as he was squeezed over the outer kerb. He tangled with the Force India, each spinning off in different directions. As Sutil speared back on to the track, he bounced right in front of Renaults Fernando Alonso, who had nowhere to go and retired with rear suspension damage. Not surprisingly the safety car was deployed as debris all over the place was cleared up.
As if all that wasnt dramatic enough, there was excitement in the pits as Kovalainen and Raikkonen both stopped at the end of the lap. The Ferrari driver had damaged his front wing against Webber, who had got away second behind Barrichello at the start. Kovalainen pulled away too soon from refuelling, taking his fuel hose with him. Raikkonen, right behind, then ran through a flash fire as fuel spewed from Kovalainens trailing fuel hose.
When the racing resumed on the sixth lap Button launched an attack on Franco-Swiss rookie Renault driver Romain Grosjean. They ran side by side and repassed one another a couple of times in some tense wheel-to-wheel racing, but this was the Jenson Button who won six of the first seven races and he wasnt having any of that and soon settled the issue. Next on the list was Williams Kazuki Nakajima, whom he deposed on the seventh lap. Rookie Kamui Kobayashi proved tougher, but after one failed attempt in Turn One Button made is stick.
From the 35th lap he had the championship in his sights, as the pit stops ebbed and flowed. The ones that really mattered came from the 50th lap onwards. Barrichello pitted then from second place. On Lap 55 Button pitted from third. On Lap 56 Vettel pitted from third. When the dust had finally settled on the 59th lap, Webber was leading Kubica by 5.2s, with Barrichello third from Hamilton, Vettel and Button. Thus Button had 88 points; Barrichello 77, Vettel 73. The miracle had happened.
As Webber reeled off the final laps after a superb drive that was inevitably overshadowed by the title drama, and Kubica maintained his surprise second place despite nursing an overheating engine, Hamilton came pushing up behind Barrichello after McLaren cleverly changed his strategy after the first-lap carnage, and overtook him on the 61st lap. The Brazilian, so desperate to win on his home ground, was in trouble. A tyre had punctured, and he needed to make a third pit stop two laps later. It was the final icing on Buttons cake, as he jumped up to fifth place behind Vettel.
Raikkonen brought his Ferrari home sixth after the team also changed his strategy early on when he needed that new front wing. Sebastien Buemi was in the hunt all afternoon for Toro Rosso and deserved his seventh place finish ahead of the deeply disappointed Barrichello, while Heikki Kovalainen could yet be penalised heavily from his ninth place as stewards investigate opening lap contact with Ferrari's Giancarlo Fisichella and his subsequent pit-lane drama.
Kobayashi finished 10th after a great debut for Toyota, while Fisichella had another unobtrusive race to 11th in the second F60 ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi in the surviving Force India, Grosjean and Jaime Alguersuari. Neither Williams finished, Kazuki Nakajima crashing heavily after an incident with Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg suffering gearbox problems. Nick Heidfeld also joined the retirement list, for mechanical reasons.
Finally, with 89 points nobody could beat Button whatever happens in Abu Dhabi, and to rub salt into Barrichellos wounds he dropped to third on 72 behind Vettels 74.
All through the slowing down lap, Button sang over the radio to his delighted team: We are the champions my friends!
And afterwards he could not stop himself. Its great to be sat here as the world champion, and personally I feel that I deserve it. I was the best over 16 races and thats what world champions are. I am it. I am a world champion! And Im gonna keep saying it all night!