Rubens Barrichello earned his first victory of the season thanks to an aggressive drive in the European Grand Prix at Valencia. It has been five years since the Brazilian last took the chequered flag for Ferrari. By coming home first Rubens has silenced his critics and after all that frustrations in previous events, this result was well deserved.
The Brawn GP driver inherited the win in what appears to be a mistake by the McLaren pit crew during Lewis Hamilton’s second pit stop. A delay in bringing out the Bridgestone tyres cost the chance for Lewis to take his second consecutive victory, which is a shame as the defending world champion was dominating this race from the front.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen drove a solid race to finish in third ahead of fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren.
Nico Rosberg continues to deliever more points for Williams with fifth, with home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso sixth for Renault. A big improvement compared to his early retirement last year.
Championship leader Jenson Button had a difficult race in the Brawn and was disappointed to finish the European Grand Prix down in seventh. His lead is the drivers’ standings have been reduced to 18 points with his team-mate becoming his nearest challenger for title honours.
But at least Jenson’s main title rivals Red Bull Racing failed to score any significant points with Mark Webber finishing in ninth while a second engine failure ended the race for Sebastian Vettel.
Robert Kubica finished a poignant eighth for BMW Sauber. An appropriate result given the events last month.
As for the rest, Adrian Sutil did a solid job in the Force India to finish tenth, ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella.
The Toyota pair of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock came next in P13 and P14, with the latter setting the fastest lap of the race – two from the end.
The rookies took the final positions, with Romain Grosjean leading home Jaime Alguersuari and Luca Badoer.
The Ferrari stand-in driver seemed out of depth during the 57-lap race resulting in a drive-through penalty after crossing the white line exiting the pits and a spin in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.
Sebastien Buemi was the only other retirement with late-race brake failure in the Toro Rosso.
So Brawn increased their constructors’ championship lead over Red Bull, 126 points to 98.5, and Barrichello vaulted back to second place in the drivers’ with 54 points to Webber’s 51.5.
Barrichello’s win marked the 100th by a Brazilian driver, and fittingly he dedicated it to Felipe Massa, who had advised him on racing lines only last week. It was also the 250th race for the McLaren Mercedes partnership, and Bridgestone’s 150th victory. And it left the title fight wide open as the paddock heads to Belgium next week.
Race results from Valencia, 57 laps:
1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1h35:51.289
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +2.358
3. Raikkonen Ferrari +15.994
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +20.032
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +20.870
6. Alonso Renault +27.744
7. Button Brawn-Mercedes +34.913
8. Kubica BMW Sauber +36.667
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault +44.910
10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +47.935
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +48.822
12. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes +1:03.614
13. Trulli Toyota +1:04.527
14. Glock Toyota +1:26.519
15. Grosjean Renault +1:31.774
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Badoer Ferrari +1 lap
18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +3 laps
Fastest lap: Glock, 1:38.683
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 42 laps
Vettel Red Bull-Renault 24 laps
World Championship standings, round 11:
1. Button 72
2. Barrichello 54
3. Webber 51.5
4. Vettel 47
5. Rosberg 29.5
6. Hamilton 27
7. Raikkonen 24
8. Trulli 22.5
9. Massa 22
10. Glock 16
11. Alonso 16
12. Kovalainen 14
13. Heidfeld 6
14. Buemi 3
15. Kubica 3
16. Bourdais 2
1. Brawn-Mercedes 126
2. Red Bull-Renault 98.5
3. Ferrari 46
4. McLaren-Mercedes 41
5. Toyota 38.5
6. Williams-Toyota 29.5
7. Renault 16
8. BMW Sauber 9
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 5
Next race: Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps. August 28-30.