Monday, 19 October 2009
Webber wins at Interlagos while Button proves his worth with a stunning drive to clinch the World Championship
As the track was cleared out of debris, the Safety Car came back in at the end of lap 5. This is when BrawnGP's Jenson Button gave it the beans. At the re-start, he was immediately all over on the back of Grosjean's Renault just in front. Although Grosjean was defending heavily, Button made an aggressive move at the Senna Esses and overtook Grosjean. On the next lap, he pulled off another impressive overtaking move on Nakajima going into turn 1. Over the next few laps, Button was constantly pushing Kobayashi trying to get past, but the Japanese rookie was defending ferociously. After trying for several laps, Button finally made it past the Toyota into the entry of turn 1.
Meanwhile in front, although Barrichello set a new fastest lap of the race, he had Webber following him closely behind. When Barrichello pitted on lap 21, that released Webber who then drove some scintillating laps to build up a good advantage. Barrichello rejoined the race in 8th place and right in the middle of traffic, when what he needed was a clear piece of track to put in some fast laps. Almost as soon as he was out of the pits, he was overtaken by the lighter and faster car of Vettel to move back another place. At the same time, race leader Mark Webber set a new fastest lap. Barrichello's main contender Jenson Button was now up in 2nd but yet to make his first pit stop.
After driving some stunning laps and setting several personal best times, Button pitted on lap 29 to come out in 10th behind Buemi. On lap 33, Button got into Buemi's slipstream on the main straight, then pulled out and outbraked him, went on the inside of turn 1 and got good traction to come out in front of Buemi going into turn 2. This overtaking move was risky, as at one point Button was very close to hitting Buemi, but the Briton kept his calm and made it stick, resulting in perhaps one of the most brilliant overtaking moves of the season.
Button, who started the race with a heavier fuel load than Barrichello, was running longer in the second stint as well. So when Barrichello pitted on lap 50, he rejoined the race in 6th place while Button was up in 4th. Button made his second and last pit stop on lap 55 and rejoined the race in 6th, but was straight away overtaken by the lighter car of Heikki Kovalainen. Although when Kovalainen pitted 4 laps later, it released Button again to move up to 5th.
Barrichello was in 3rd at this stage and if the race was to finish like that, with himself in 3rd and Button in 5th, Button would seal the title. Unfortunately, the Brazilian's situation was not getting any better. He was suffering from graining on his right front tyre, and was told by his race engineer Jock Clear to look after the tyre. Then on lap 61, as Lewis Hamilton got into Barrichello's slipstream and overtook him going into turn 1, the McLaren's front wing briefly touched the BrawnGP's left rear tyre causing a puncture. This forced the Brazilian to go back into the pits to change his tyres just 8 laps before the Chequered Flag. He rejoined the race in 8th and as far as the Championship goes, it was surely all over for him.
Meanwhile out in front, Red Bull's Mark Webber had been driving beautifully throughout the race. After Barrichello made his first pit stop, Webber took the lead and maintained that lead for the remaining duration of the race. It was eventually a cruise to the finish line for him as he comfortably took the win, his second ever Grand Prix victory. At times however, Webber was slightly troubled by BMW's Robert Kubica, and although the BMW did not quite have the pace to win, Kubica drove out of his skin to get a more than deserved 2nd place. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, starting way back in 17th, made his long first stint work and drove a fantastic race to finish in 3rd, his first podium in Brazil. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel also did all he could after starting from 15th on the grid and ended up finishing 4th thanks to his one-stop strategy. However, at the end of the race, a hugely disappointed Vettel conceded that it was his poor qualifying that meant that he could not challenge for a win. Vettel's Championship dreams were also over as he needed a minimum of 2nd place finish to keep the title open. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, after having to make an early pit stop to change his front wing, did well to recover and eventually finish in 6th place.
Button becomes the 10th ever Briton to win the World Championship. His name goes down in history with previous greats such as Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton. After the race at Interlagos, Button told the media that he now wants to create history by being the first ever Briton to win back to back World Championships. Some of the Britons before had won multiple titles, but no one has been able to successfully defend a World Championship. Jenson Button wants to shut all his critics up and prove that he is not a one-hit wonder by being the first Briton to have successfully defended the World Championship.
It is equally important not to forget the contributions of the rest of the BrawnGP team, starting from the team boss Ross Brawn to chief executive Nick Fry down to all the guys at the factory in Brackley, England. Last winter, they were all going through a very tough time and after Honda announced their withdrawal from Formula 1, all the 600 or so employees were left stranded. However, Ross Brawn and Nick Fry held the team together and with the help of Honda, the FIA, engine partner Mercedes-Benz and the whole of FOTA, they made it on to the grid for the season opener in Australia as the re-branded BrawnGP. They had to let go of some staff since then as the team continued to work through a limited budget most of this year, but amidst all the highs and lows, they pulled through together as a team and as a family and now, they have a double World Championship to celebrate. So congratulations Jenson and congratulations Ross and the team!
With the World Championship wrapped up, Formula 1 now leaves the hustle and bustle of Sao Paolo and heads off to the wonderful new Yas Island built in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert for the season finale. The Yas Marina circuit will host the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Round 17 of 17 of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship. As a brand new venue and scheduled to host Formula 1's first ever twilight race, it should be an exciting event. Until then, drive safely everyone!