After a difficult second half of the 2009 Formula One World Championship, Jenson Button has finally fulfil his dream ambition in winning the drivers’ title after an aggressive drive in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Starting in P14 after a frustrating qualifying session, the Brawn GP driver pulled off some impressive overtaking manouvres to land fifth spot in the end. This was enough to secure the championship.
It capped off an amazing season and Jenson has undoubtedly silenced his critics whether he fully deserves the drivers’ title following this thrilling Grand Prix, won by Mark Webber.
The result also gave Brawn a remarkable Constructors’ Championship title in the team’s first year, less than 12 months after Honda’s departure left its staff facing an apparently bleak future.
As for the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix, this was a comfortable victory for Mark Webber. The Australian took the lead after the first round of pitstops and never look back.
Behind the victorious Red Bull, Robert Kubica took his best result of the year in second for BMW while Lewis Hamilton came through from the tail end of the field to take third for McLaren.
For Rubens Barrichello, who started his home Grand Prix in pole position, the Brazilian’s crude luck at Interlagos continued. Even though Rubens had the opportunity to take the championship down to the wire if he wins, his mid-race pace wasn’t enough to prevent his team-mate in taking the title. A puncture eight laps from the chequered flag while running in fourth ending his chances.
As for Sebastian Vettel, who started alongside his title rival in P15, the German drove his heart out in the 71-lap Grand Prix but fourth was not enough to keep his title bid alive.
The opening lap was quite dramatic with Vettel making contact at the Senna S with Heikki Kovalainen, who spun his McLaren and was almost collected by Giancarlo Fisichella, who took avoiding action in the Ferrari. Both were able to continue but at the tail end of the field.
Kimi Raikkonen was also involved in the chaotic first lap when he broke his front wing against the back of Webber’s Red Bull as the Australian defended his position into the Descida do Lago.
Through the next corner Toyota’s Jarno Trulli went wide onto the grass – accusing Adrian Sutil of putting him there – and spun back across into the Force India, which was then collected by the Renault of Fernando Alonso. All three were out on the spot and prompting a safety car.
There was even more drama under the yellow, as Kovalainen took the McLaren fuel hose with him as he left the pits, resulting in a flash fire as fuel splashed out of the hose onto Raikkonen’s close-following Ferrari! Remarkably both were able to continue without delay.
As the race stewards began investigating all of those incidents, Button and Vettel found themselves ninth and eleventh in the restart queue, with Barrichello leading the race over Webber, Rosberg and Kubica.
Both Button and Vettel immediately charged forward with some aggressive passes, before getting stuck behind Kamui Kobayashi’s Toyota and Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams in seventh and ninth respectively.
It took until lap 24 following several near-misses before Button successfully dived inside Kobayashi at the Senna S. By that time his title prospects looked much better, for Barrichello had fallen from first to third after the first pitstops.
The Brawn had only managed to pull two seconds clear of Webber, and when Barrichello stopped on lap 20 he emerged into the thick of the traffic and was further delayed being overtaken by Vettel. He not only lost out to Webber, but also fell to third behind Kubica, with Rosberg losing a chance to also get involved in this fight when he retired on lap 26.
That settled the lead battle for the rest of the race. Webber ran a comfortable five seconds ahead of Kubica, with Barrichello becoming an ever more distant third. The Brazilian’s only hope of keeping the title fight alive was now that Button finished eighth or lower, but the Briton’s excellent progress continued as he moved up to second before making the first of his two stops on lap 29.
Vettel ran a similar strategy but pitted even later, which enabled the German to jump Button at the final stops, but by that time they had moved up to fifth and sixth – which was not enough for the Red Bull driver but it was perfectly adequate for Jenson in the Brawn.
Just to underline that Barrichello’s task was hopeless, he was passed for third by Lewis Hamilton ten laps from the end, then fell to eighth with a puncture – no thanks to a brush with the McLaren – two laps later.
Hamilton had pitted under the safety car to immediately get rid of his soft Bridgestone tyres, meaning he could run the rest of the race on a one-stop strategy. He then had the pace to quickly move through the field, keeping up with the lighter-fuelled cars, and emerging fourth behind Barrichello as others stopped.
Behind Vettel and the euphoric Button, Raikkonen recovered to sixth, with Sebastien Buemi scoring two points for Scuderia Toro Rosso in seventh.
Kovalainen finished in ninth, with Kobayashi losing ground as others around him ran longer strategies, but pushed past Fisichella for tenth in the closing laps.
The Toyota rookie escaped a frightening incident with compatriot Nakajima – who he had already banged wheels with through the Senna S – that saw the Williams have its front wing swiped off on the rear of Kobayashi’s defensive Toyota as it came out of the pits. Nakajima lost control on the grass and speared into the Descida do Lago barriers, but was unhurt.
So, congratulations to Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team in winning the title. For Button, this was a dream come true and he becomes the tenth British driver to taste success as the world champion.
What is ever more remarkable is that Brawn GP has achieved the constructors title in its first-ever season. Credit to the all the members at Brackley and especially Ross Brawn in leading the outfit to championship glory.
Race results from Interlagos, 71 laps:
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h32:23.081
2. Kubica BMW Sauber +7.626
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +18.944
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +19.652
5. Button Brawn-Mercedes +29.005
6. Raikkonen Ferrari +33.340
7. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +35.991
8. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes +45.454
9. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +48.499
10. Kobayashi Toyota +1:03.324
11. Fisichella Ferrari +1:10.665
12. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes +1:11.388
13. Grosjean Renault +1 lap
14. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:13.733
Nakajima Williams-Toyota 31 laps
Rosberg Williams-Toyota 28 laps
Heidfeld BMW Sauber 22 laps
Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1 lap
Trulli Toyota 1 lap
Alonso Renault 1 lap
World Championship standings, round 16:
1. Button 89
2. Vettel 74
3. Barrichello 72
4. Webber 61.5
5. Hamilton 49
6. Raikkonen 48
7. Rosberg 34.5
8. Trulli 30.5
9. Alonso 26
10. Glock 24
11. Kovalainen 22
12. Massa 22
13. Kubica 17
14. Heidfeld 15
15. Fisichella 8
16. Sutil 5
17. Buemi 5
18. Bourdais 2
1. Brawn-Mercedes 161
2. Red Bull-Renault 135.5
3. McLaren-Mercedes 71
4. Ferrari 70
5. Toyota 54.5
6. Williams-Toyota 34.5
7. BMW Sauber 32
8. Renault 26
9. Force India-Mercedes 13
10. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7
Next race: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit. October 30-November 1.