Brawn GP bounce back with one-two at Monza 13 Sep 2009
Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button took Brawn GP a significant step closer to both world championship titles at Monza on Sunday afternoon, in a race rendered dramatic by a last lap shunt for McLarens Lewis Hamilton, as he was pushing hard in third place after Button.
As expected, it was Hamilton who led from the start, using KERS in his lightly-fuelled McLaren to sprint ahead of Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen and Force Indias Adrian Sutil. Barrichello and Button crucially slipped into fourth and fifth places, ahead of Heikki Kovalainens fuel-heavy McLaren, which an aggressive Vitantonio Liuzzi also overtook for sixth place in the second Force India.
Hamilton stretched his lead after setting a series of fastest laps, until his first refuelling stop on the 15th lap. Sutil stopped on the 17th, Raikkonen the 19th, those three the only men on one-stop strategies. That left the Brawns one-two from Lap 20 until their much later pit stops, on the 28th lap for Button and the 29th for Barrichello.
That was where the race was won for the Brazilian and lost for the Englishman. Button was 2.1s adrift before his stop, 4.2s after it, and Barrichello proceeded to pull away as they set after Hamilton, Raikkonen and Sutil, who had repassed them while they refuelled. Each had another stop to make, however.
When Hamilton made his on Lap 34 and emerged behind the Brawns, the writing was on the wall, but the champion refused to give in. As Button responded they ate into Barrichellos 5.4s lead, which dwindled steadily. Barrichello had things under full control, however, and so did Button.
Hamilton, however, did not. Going into the last lap Button was 3.3s behind Barrichello, with Hamilton a second further back. But going through the second Lesmo Hamilton lost control of his McLaren, spun and thumped the inner wall before spinning again and strewing the track with debris. Out went the safety car, as Barrichello crossed the line to score his second victory of the year and to reduce Buttons championship points advantage to 14 points, 80 to 66.
It was an emphatic victory for Ross Brawns team, on a day when Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull took a mere point, and one that was gifted to them courtesy of Hamiltons shunt. To make matters worse for Red Bull, Mark Webber had been shunted out of the race by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica at the second chicane, on the opening lap.
Brawn thus have 146 points to Red Bulls 105.5.
Raikkonen hung on to the final podium place, but Sutil was only four-tenths adrift at the finish as he scored his first points of the season. Liuzzi might have had a shot at the podium with his single-stop strategy, but retired after 22 laps with mechanical problems.
Fernando Alonso thus brought his Renault home fifth ahead of Kovalainen, while BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld held off Vettel for seventh.
Giancarlo Fisichella had a quiet race to ninth for Ferrari, ahead of Williams' Kazuki Nakajima who held off the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock and, close to the end, triggered an incident in which Trulli nearly collected Glock after having to avoid Nakajima in the middle of the road going into the first chicane. The German chased the Japanese driver home, but the Italian fell back to 14th behind Hamilton and Toro Rossos Sebastien Buemi.
Romain Grosjean was an undistinguished 15th in the second Renault ahead of Williams Nico Rosberg, whose chances were ruined by an early pit stop. Liuzzi was classified 17th ahead of Toro Rossos Jaime Alguersuari and BMW Saubers Robert Kubica, who both retired with technical problems, and an angry Webber was 20th.
While Red Bull will bounce back, the title chase is now beginning to look more and more like an in-house Brawn duel, with Button 27 points ahead of Vettel, and Barrichello 13.