Button extends title lead with third win

2009 Bahrain Grand Prix review

Jenson Button made it three wins from four starts in Bahrain

Jenson Button made it three wins from four starts in Bahrain

Jenson Button scored his third win of 2009 after fighting through from fourth on the grid.

He made up crucial ground in the early stages of the race, passing Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, putting himself in a position to take up the lead after the lightly-fuelled Toyotas had pitted.

Sebastian Vettel minimised the damage in the drivers’ championship by taking second, while Jarno Trulli finished third after starting from pole position.

Glock grabs the lead

Frantic starts are becoming the norm in 2009, and this one had a huge role in determining the outcome of the race.

First, Timo Glock beat Jarno Trulli off the line to take the lead. Further back, the fast-starting KERS cars saw some drivers approach the first corner five-wide.

Lewis Hamilton scorched past Button and went down the inside of Vettel to take third. Button fought back, taking Vettel around the outside for fourth, defending strongly on the run-up to turn four.

Next Hamilton took on Trulli, but the McLaren ran wide, losing its grip on second place.

With the field compressing so tightly at the first corner contact was inevitable, and Felipe Massa, Kazuki Nakajima and both BMWs both ended up heading to the pits for new front wings – Robert Kubica having had his knocked off by team mate Nick Heidfeld. Kubica made things worse by missing the pit call first time around and not making it in until the end of the second lap.

As lap two began Button caught Hamilton’s slipstream on the start/finish straight and slipped past at the first corner. This proved the critical moment of the race, as Button was able to set off after the Toyotas while Vettel languished behind the McLaren.

Mark Webber had a remarkable getaway from 18th and got up to 11th within a couple of laps. But crucially, he couldn’t find a way by Nelson Piquet Jnr despite the Renault driver having over 20kg more fuel on board.

How Sebastian Vettel lost the race (Bahrain Grand Prix start analysis)

Button passes the Toyotas

Timo Glock, Toyota, Bahrain, 2009

Timo Glock, Toyota, Bahrain, 2009

Despite having a lighter fuel load Glock struggled to open up a gap over Trulli. The German pitted on lap 11, and his team mate was in the next time by, letting Button through into the lead.

Button didn’t have to make his first pit stop until lap 15. Hamilton came in on the same lap, handing the lead to Vettel, though the Red Bull had been over 10 seconds behind Button beforehand.

Button and Hamilton both took on another set of super soft tyres, unlike the Toyotas, which had switched the medium compound for their long middle stints. That stategy failed, with Glock slipping far down the order, though Trulli fared rather better.

Barrichello and Webber came in on lap 14, the latter having failed to get ahead of Piquet. Barrichello’s stop now left him behind Piquet, but he found a way by the Renault and, on lap 20, took Glock for seventh.

Vettel stayed in the lead until lap 19 when he pitted. He resumed behind Trulli and couldn’t get close enough to pass the Toyota and reveal his true pace. This played into Button’s hands brilliantly when the Brawn driver resumed the lead following Raikkonen’s pit stop on lap 21.

Barrichello’s gamble backfires

By the halfway point in the race Button had a nine second lead over Trulli, with Vettel and Hamilton within 1.2s of the Toyota. Barrichello was four seconds back but catching them quickly, Glock already 9.4s behind.

As Barrichello came within range of the three-car train Brawn elected to change his strategy to avoid him being delayed by the trio. On lap 26 he was in the pits for a second time, risking his race on a three-stop strategy.

It didn’t pay off. When Trulli finally pitted on lap 37 he came out ahead of Barrichello, and although Barrichello passed his rival the Toyota driver quickly reversed the move.

Hamilton had come in on the same lap, his team mistakenly believing that Trulli was fuelled two laps shorter. Button also pitted, putting Vettel back in the lead. The Red Bull driver had just two laps left in the tank, but it was enough for him to put in a couple of quick laps and leap past Trulli after his return to the pits on lap 40.

Barrichello’s final stop on lap 47 dropped him to fifth behind Hamilton, where he finished.

Third win for Button

Jenson Button, Brawn, Bahrain, 2009

Jenson Button, Brawn, Bahrain, 2009

After an exciting start to the race the final laps were fairly settled.

Trulli switched back to the super-soft tyres for the final phase, but couldn’t use them to get ahead of Vettel.

Hamilton ended the race fourth, but encouragingly for McLaren only 22s behind Button’s Brawn, a marked improvement over their earlier performance.

Raikkonen was sixth behind Barrichello, finally putting some points on the board for Ferrari, with Glock a disappointing seventh after leading. Alonso took the final point.

Nico Rosberg was ninth, almost a minute behind Button after an anonymous weekend for Williams. Team mate Kazuki Nakajima was the only retirement of the race, Williams choosing to retire his FW31 as its oil pressure was running high.

Nelson Piquet Jnr finished tenth, 13s behind Alonso and a much-needed improvement for the under-fire Brazilian. He successfully thwarted Webber’s recovery drive after his qualifying woes, consigning the Red Bull driver to 11th.

An early pit stop to replace a damaged tyre spoiled Heikki Kovalainen’s race – he finished 12th. Sebastien Bourdais was 13th ahead of Massa, who also came into the pits early after his KERS developed a problem.

He also survived a brush with Giancarlo Fisichella after the Force India driver turned in on the Ferrari at turn 11. That sent Fisichella off the track, and he returned in time to worry leader Button, who gave the VJM02 a wide berth as he lapped it.

The second Force India of Adrian Sutil was 16th, beating Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso in a straight fight. After their collision on the first lap the BMWs finished last, 18th and 19th.

Button complete a straight run of podium finishes in the ‘flyaway’ race to put him in a very strong position as the championship heads back to Europe. Several teams are planning to bring new components to Barcelona, and we could see another shake-up of the running order. Until then, Button and Brawn are the team to beat.

Championship standings after Bahrain

Driver of the race

My pick for driver of the day is Jenson Button following his excellent passes on Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton which won him the race.

Your picks for driver of the day via Twitter:

Chittaranjan Button & Vettel always had da pace. Kimi, I think did well 2 bring ‘some’ pts. Esp. after his nick with Massa at da start.
MartinB1884 driver of the day for me was Button but honourable mention to lewis.
Handbag_Junkie Drive of day has to be Button, passing Lewis without benefit of KERS. Also must mention Piquet in 10th only 2 behind Alonso
RDFGrant got to be Raikkonen for driver of the day. He showed real hunger and excellent pace throughout to finish ahead of Glock.
aimi_g driver of the race is a close call between button and trulli for me, button had a brill race, and trulli kept up well.
somefool I’d have to go with Button. As that said on comms, won on first lap.
adamsapples Button all day long
brodyberg driver of race: raikkonen, took bad car to points and attacked and defended on the way about
noelinho No-one really sticks out today. Kimi, Fernando or Webber. perhaps?
MarkF1 without question it is Button.
GeneralKonsens button was great vettel very solid too

Who’s your driver of the day? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Rate the race: Bahrain Grand Prix

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli, Bahrain, 2009

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli, Bahrain, 2009

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51 comments on Button extends title lead with third win

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  1. rahim said on 26th April 2009, 17:16

    No doubt…its Raikkonen, amazing DETERMINATION!

  2. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 26th April 2009, 17:24

    Right – who sang the cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” that BBC used for their highlight reel? Would really appreciate anyone being able to tell me.

  3. Rahzam said on 26th April 2009, 17:36

    Raikkonen was sixth behind BARRICHELLO

  4. Clare msj said on 26th April 2009, 17:37

    I am so so pleased for Button, I really hope he can continue to do this well over the whole season. I know its a bit early to think about it but I would LOVE him to take the title.

  5. Andrew said on 26th April 2009, 17:38

    Someone, possibly Leggard, suggested that Brawn had upgrades worth six tenths coming in the next race. Has that been confirmed anywhere?

  6. Juhhi said on 26th April 2009, 17:41

    Today there was Kimi what it should be allways…really fighting his way…
    Button was really good offcourse, so did Lewis.
    Only one thing was really impressive and keeps in my mind, Alonso´s pass over Trulli, really amazing!!!

  7. Patrickl said on 26th April 2009, 17:42

    I though Hamilton was most impressive. In his much slower car he was able to follow Vettel and Trulli. Until the end when he simply settled for fourth of course. Raikkonen was nice too, but still very far off the pace and he should be able to keep up with hamilton. His car proved fast enough in Qualifying.

    I’d say Alonso stuck out with a poor performance. his car is faster than Hamiltons, but Alonso was nowhere near. Completely invisible and even Piquet was able to keep up with him.

    Massa with one of his insane overtaking moves again. When will this guy learn that you need to drive alongside other cars and not straight through them. How on earth did he not get a penalty for simply running Fisichella off track?

    • Fernando Alonso’s drinking pump failed during the race, leaving him without water for the duration of the race. He subsequently suffered from dehydration as he got out of the car. He has now fully recovered

    • Patrickl said on 26th April 2009, 21:28

      Yeah I saw that. I remember Senna had something similar. He stopped right after the line and they had to carry him away. IIRC Senna won the race though.

  8. kurtosis said on 26th April 2009, 17:58

    I think Raikkonen did a great job defending from Glock on inferior tyres (Glock was on options, and Kimi on mediums in the last stint) – it certainly wasn’t the KERS alone that helped him, it was a fundamentally sound drive in a very twitchy car. He kept his mouth shut and drove a good race. He definitely outdrove his car this time.

    Trulli vastly outperformed Glock the whole weekend. Kudos to him for another well-deserved podium. Looks like the Toyotas have tyre management problems. The Brawns expected heat-management problem never materialized.

    Finally, Hamilton had great pace, being able to match the Toyotas and Brawns for most of the race. He’s now a threat for regular podiums I think.

    All three of the above outdrove their cars – so they all deserve drive of the day in my book,

  9. Internet said on 26th April 2009, 18:00

    No way is Kimi the driver of the race. I would say it was Hamilton. He’s beaten both Ferraris and Renaults which were on similar pace.

  10. Dan Thorn said on 26th April 2009, 18:04

    Between Button and Raikkonen for me, although Piquet drove a very good race and it was entertaining to watch Rubens having to pass a few cars on his 3 stop strategy. Also Alonso’s move on Trulli was fantastic.

    I think the pace of Lewis and the McLaren in this race is a little bit false. Yes they’re probably the 4th best team at the moment (certainly at this circuit anyway) but he was only in contention for a podium for so long because of Trulli being slow on the prime tyre and backing them up. Once Lewis was on the harder tyre he was dropping off quite quickly from the pace of Vettel and Trulli, but still an encouraging result for the team.

  11. Mahir C said on 26th April 2009, 18:13

    The driver of the day should be either Button or Hamilton. I’d rather give it to Button for his 1st lap. Since Australia, McLaren have moved up in front of BMW, Williams, Ferrari and Renault. But today they were helped by the circuit itself. Even Hamilton said they were helped by not having long fast curves where downforce matters and long straights where KERS helps a lot.

  12. kurtosis said on 26th April 2009, 18:23

    Odd that the Ferrari principals are saying 6th is about where they are in terms of speed.
    Domenicali: “… sixth place is a fairly accurate reflection of our current situation.”
    Dyer: “… sixth place represents what we could have reasonably expected to do.”

    Huh? 6th place would imply being the 3rd fastest team out there, from when did they start thinking they are third fastest on the grid?

    They should be thanking Lady Luck and Raikkonen for staying ahead of Webber (luck), Alonso, Kova, and Glock (skill) who _all_ have better performing cars at the moment. Did they forget he started 10th?

    Strange attitude.

    • Patrickl said on 26th April 2009, 20:14

      Probably all team bosses “lie”. Briatore (and Alonso) was shouting off the roofs that Renault was back (well at the back off the grid maybe), Theissen claimed at Melbourne that Kubica was 2 secs a lap quicker than Button (when in fact they were on exactly the same pace).

      Not sure if they actually beleive their nonsense, but I really doubt it. It’s probably PR related or something.

      On the other hand, Kimi was 4th in Q2, so maybe they really did expect him to do better. To be honest I thought he would be able to fight with Hamilton and Alonso for the whole race since they set such similar times.

  13. Agree with Mahir C.
    Button or Hamilton.
    Both have driven an excellent race.

  14. Oliver said on 26th April 2009, 18:29

    Just imagine if the medal system was being used this year.

  15. Definetly Hamilton, consistently proving his talent despite the lack of quality in his car, his placement compared to that of Kovalainen throughout the race shows the boys quality.

    Best team display has to go to Brawn GP, brilliant tactics led to Button’s win and whilst Barrichello’s gamble backfired that was the only negative from the entire race for the outfit.

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