Button wins again with the old two-stop

2009 Spanish Grand Prix review

Jenson Button scored his fourth win of the year

Jenson Button scored his fourth win of the year

Surprise, surprise – the Spanish Grand Prix pole sitter went on to win the race.

But there was rather more to it than that – Jenson Button had to wrest the lead from team mate Rubens Barrichello in a strategic switch that’s got everyone talking.

And it was another frustrating race for Sebastian Vettel, who rolled in fourth after spending much of the afternoon bottled up behind Felipe Massa.

Trulli triggers shunt

All eyes were on Felipe Massa at the start to see if the Ferrari driver could use his KERS power to get in among the leaders. He did, making a bold lunge down the inside of Sebastian Vettel for third.

But his second row companion Rubens Barrichello made an equally good getaway – not only passing Vettel but also drawing alongside team mate Button and sweeping by into the lead.

Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg also went into the first corner side-by-side, but with a rather different result. Alonso squeezed Rosberg who, faced with a choice between colliding and diving off the track, opted for the latter.

As the Williams driver rejoined Jarno Trulli took evasive action and spun into the path of Adrian Sutil. Sebastien Bourdais stood on the brakes to avoid the wreckage and was collected by team mate Sebastien Buemi. The safety car was summoned and the next time around the cars carefully picked their way through a track littered with debris.

Read more: Trulli, Sutil, Bourdais and Buemi in four-car crash at start (video)

Webber takes on Alonso

At the restart the Brawns got away cleanly, untroubled by Massa and his KERS button. Fifth-placed Mark Webber, however, had his hands full repelling an attack from Fernando Alonso boosted not by KERS (Renault having dropped it for this race) but by his home crowd.

Despite being squeezed by Webber, Alonso got past using the pit lane entrance and part of the grass on the run towards turn one. But an inspired Webber dived back to the inside, somehow got his RB5 slowed down for the corner, and took the place back.

Unfortunately that was to be pretty much all the racing action we saw. Lewis Hamilton picked Nelson Piquet Jnr off for 12th place (KERS-assisted) shortly after the pair of them dodged past the other McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen.

Soon the other Finn joined him in retirement, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari grinding to a halt on the strip of tarmac that used to be the La Caixa corner. He had made it up to tenth from 16th on the grid and was trying to pas Nick Heidfeld at the time.

Strategy fails Barrichello

Barrichello had a slender 1.3s lead over Button by the time the Briton came into the pits on lap 18. Having originally planned a three-stop strategy the team now moved him one a two-stopper, having noticed Nico Rosberg’s Williams was 18.6s behind and due to stop much later.

Barrichello remained on a three-stop strategy and this decided the outcome of the race. He came out of the pits ahead of Rosberg, and quickly pulled away from the fuel-heavy Button. Barrichello return to the pits on lap 30, with Button 13.5s behind.

Had he continued that rate of progress in his third stint he would have had enough time in hand to complete his extra stop and stay in front of Button. But Button’s lighter BGP001 was now lapping quicker, and Barrichello found his third set of tyres were off the pace. After his final pit stop on lap 50, he ended up 7.1s behind Button.

Read more: Did Brawn deliberately give Barrichello a poor strategy to let Button win?

Massa’s fuel problem

The rest of race was largely processional and dictated by strategy. Webber’s pit stop on lap 19 may have been team mate Vettel’s undoing. The Red Bulls started with identical fuel loads, so Ferrari could assume that Vettel would pit on the lap after Webber. He did – and Ferrari brought Massa in too (probably earlier than he was able to run as he started with more fuel than Vettel) allowing them to keep Vettel behind for another stint.

Webber took on more fuel in his first pit stop but Vettel, bottled up behind Massa, was unable to escape his team mate. Webber made his final stop seven laps after Vettel’s, neatly jumping ahead of his team mate and Massa.

To Vettel’s frustration his final pit stop on lap 43 coincided with Massa’s once again. But it soon emerged the Ferrari was in trouble – too little fuel had got into its tanks and Massa would have to slow down and save fuel.

He did this quite dramatically in the final laps, letting Vettel and Alonso by. Massa rolled across the line in sixth, then ground to a halt with no fuel, much like turbo F1 cars used to do in the early ’80s.

Heidfeld and Rosberg took the final points places, with Hamilton ninth after a fruitless race. Timo Glock and Robert Kubica finished outside the top ten having made it to Q3.

Nelson Piquet had an anonymous run to 12th ahead of Kazuki Nakajima and Giancarlo Fisichella, the latter making four visits to the pits after an early stop under the safety car.

Button’s fourth win of the year means he now has a 14-point lead over Barrichello in the drivers’ championship. Perhaps more significantly, Vettel is now 18 points adrift after finishing fourth.

Red Bull are expected to bring their development of the ‘double diffuser’ at the next race in Monte-Carlo. But even if it doesn’t appear the car still looks strong and Vettel remains a threat for victories – if he can break this habit of ending up stuck behind slower cars.

Button may have four wins from five but this championship’s not over yet.

Man of the race

I pick Mark Webber as my man of the race for the Spanish Grand Prix because of his smart re-pass on Alonso that kept him in the running for a podium – which he delivered on.

Here’s some of your nominations posted via Twitter:

cholle2001 – driver of the race would be alonso. we saw some pretty brave moves from him today.
moitio – Has to be Jense, not a great start but he made up for it in consistency and he dominated here today.
brodyberg – driver of the race: Brawn, clearly :-/
andrew_rickmann – Button
chlorinekid – gotta agree with DC and say Mark Webber. He did well to come out ahead of massa / vettel and hold 3rd.
gselmer – webber, great drive, awesome resolve, stunning move on FA
MarkF1 – Webber for that awesome re-pass on Alonso after the safety car.
smboyce – Mark Webber? So close to second, really didn’t think he’d beat Vettel or Massa today
noelinho – Definitely Webber. Solid drive from Button, but Webber jumped Massa and Vettel, and wasn’t far off 2nd. Great drive.
pcambra – the best has been without a doubt Webber, and the worst, again Massa
40_thieves – Webber for me. Quiet, but beat Vettel
pastamaster39 – JB – adapted well to the change of race strategies and basically nailed it today – champion form!
adam_macdonald – I want to say MAS, just for finishing. lol.
therealtopper – jensen button!
pieman40 – Driver of the day Button, then Webber
kayels – Webber for surprising and getting 3rd

Share your picks for man of the race below.

Read more: Championship standings after Spanish GP

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52 comments on Button wins again with the old two-stop

  1. Patrickl said on 10th May 2009, 18:45

    Bizarre how Sutil and Trulli rejoined the track from opposite sides at the same point and then collided.

  2. rob said on 10th May 2009, 18:56

    Kimi definitely.

    He passed more cars than any one else, unfortunately he could not finish due to his teams unreliable car. He was the best while it lasted.

  3. Fer no.65 said on 10th May 2009, 19:15

    Now we see how pointless the “most wins” system would have been.

    Button has 4 wins from 5. With 12 races to go we could have a championship winner in no time.

    Who on earth thought that could be a good idea?.

    • Patrickl said on 10th May 2009, 20:21

      Indeed.

      Also the only change the “most wins” system would have brought about is not more overtaking for the lead, but Brawn would never have allowed Barrichello to take another win for the whole season.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 5:40

      “Who on earth thought that could be a good idea?.”

      there is only one man in this world we know would have thought of this being a good idea.

      & there are no prizes for guessing who that man is.

      that man is a real dimwit. thats all i can say.

    • Owen G said on 11th May 2009, 5:52

      Devil’s advocate mode:

      Under the ‘most wins’ system Vettel would be ahead of Button if he won the next 4 races.

      Under the current system he could win the next 4 races and still be 10 points behind him.

      @Patrickl – for me, that is the main flaw in the ‘most wins’ proposal.

  4. Sush Meerkat said on 10th May 2009, 19:20

    For me DRIVER OF THE RACE is … drum roll please …

    MASSA!

    I’ll give you guys a second to recover your socks that just blew off… He drove perfectly, and kept Vettel’s much faster Red Bull behind him by not making a mistake, reminds me of someone else.

  5. Dan Thorn said on 10th May 2009, 19:41

    Good races from a few drivers today. Webber, Alonso, Massa and of course Button all drove very well, but for me the driver of the day is Heidfeld – he made up a load of positions at the start with a heavy car and then held off a lot of faster cars to grab a somewhat unexpected 7th place.

    • Patrickl said on 10th May 2009, 20:33

      Good drive from Heidfeld indeed. Who did Heidfeld hold off with his heavier car though? Kubica, Hamilton and Piquet were behind him during the first stint. Piquet and Hamilton were just as heavy and Kubica probably wouldn’t have felt like taking a risk.

      Heidfeld was a bit lucky to get past Rosberg with their stops. I know Theissen calls it great pit crew work, but in reality Rosberg was held up by Massa just ahead of his last stop.

      BTW Hamilton went from P14 to P9. Pretty good result too. Although his last stint was really appalling. He still kept Glock behind him though. Guess KERS helped him there.

    • Patrickl said on 10th May 2009, 20:34

      Oh Raikkonen was behind Heidfeld of course. Never mind.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 5:24

      to me the driver of the day was Bernd Maylander. even he deserves some credit.

  6. Leahonard_e said on 10th May 2009, 20:24

    Talking about Keith’s overtaking article, I believe we can’t say overtaking is going so well… But what was proved today is that it’s not that easy, and not if it’s impossible or how difficult it is.
    About KERS helping at the start, I belevieve it works somehow. On the other hand, watch Massas’s start: he didn’t used it to overtake Vettel…

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 5:48

      the OWG is a complete failure. that ultra-modern-high tech simulator of mclaren needs a lot of fine tuning or perhaps reformatting. its ironical that the OWG members consisted of Mclaren, Ferrari & Renault, all of whom performed pathetically. lesson to be learnt is that simulators cannot be trusted, just like microsoft’s flight simulator X. every pilot to whom i’ve spoken says that FSX is a complete misguide. this proves that mclaren have not only got a bad car but also a badly calibrated race simulator.

  7. Chaz said on 10th May 2009, 20:48

    What a season this is turning out to be! Putting the Rubens issue aside, I feel a little sorry for Vettel but wow Webber seemed to come from nowhere, and what about that move on Alonso. That’s what I like too tune in for.

    One last thing, I wish I could be a fly on the wall in the Ferrari padock / offices as they really have dropped the ball with the Massa fuel debacle and Kimi’s mechanical hiccup. I wonder if the big wigs are talking of letting Kimi go at the end of this year, or maybe even sooner. Who would they put in his place if they fired him early? Now theres a topic of discussion…

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 6:00

      alonso should stay put at renault, thats the safest place for him to be. i think this is all a shoemaker conspiracy. he wants a drive again. otherwise whats he doing hanging around in the ferrari garage all the time??? is he a mechanic?? hasn’t he already wrecked formula1 enough. imo shoemaker must be banned from f1 races. its really annoying & infuriating to see his big jawed face everytime. i will not be surprised if he does make a re-entry into f1. ferrari will give a dumb reason. kimi’s lost his motivation & schoemaker is the only driver to have driven a car which is full of fuel. i have a strong feeling kimi will quit at the end of the year. he says he admires james hunt & he does remind me of james hunt. even james hunt quit early. but james hunt got himself a decent job as a commentator. he performed really well with murray walker. but who will give kimi a job as a commentator??? his mumble is very difficult to understand. BBC perhaps??? wouldn’t that be nice??? kimi & mika commentating in english for the BBC?????

  8. anirudh said on 10th May 2009, 20:56

    Force India is cursed………………….

    yeh fesi aur sutil toh F1 driver kya rickshaw driver banne ke bhi layak nahi hei!!!

    Im expecting a 2nd pointless session for FI… nd they have a history of never letting my expectations down………

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 4:51

      “yeh fesi aur sutil toh F1 driver kya rickshaw driver banne ke bhi layak nahi hei!!!”

      WHAT THE HELL DOES IT MEAN

  9. Juhhi said on 10th May 2009, 21:35

    Barrichello for sure was man of the day….how the hell his team managed to lose his maiden win with Brawn…I´m not sure but I think this thing stinks..!! Kimi also passed cars very nice…Button wins but could not be sure was it arranged…

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 6:02

      it was race-fixing. wondering how much branson paid brawn for rigging up that one!!!!

    • Macademianut said on 11th May 2009, 18:48

      MP4-19,

      Once you make up your mind on this, there’s no way you can see this BAR fiasco in any other way.

  10. Owen G said on 10th May 2009, 22:49

    Button is proving his doubters wrong this season. In just about every race he’s put in the quick laps when necessary to get him in front, whether it be in qualy or in the race.

    Also, he’s hardly made an error.

    I may have heard this wrong as it was late at night, but was it Vettel who was told to save fuel after his first stop with Massa as they realised they’d be stopping on the same lap next time? This is a potential pro for getting rid of refuelling. They were basically telling him not to push to overtake on the track so they could do it with a pit stop instead. Next year Vettel would have had no option but to try for an overtake on the track if fuel wasn’t an issue.

    Whether he would be able to do it is debatable! Vettel has spent a lot of laps stuck behind slower cars this year.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 6:06

      button is turning out to be another mansell.which is very good. but he’ll be champ only if he gets rid of that ridiculous beard.

    • Owen G said on 11th May 2009, 6:24

      @mp4-19
      I disagree entirely. It’s about time a champion sported some facial hair. Mansell was the last to do it with his magnificent moustache, and before him you probably have to go back to Graham Hill.

      More hirsute drivers in F1 I say! Heidfeld for 2010 WDC…

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 12:47

      no sir. keke rosberg had a wonderful moustache as well.he was the 1982 champ. i like moustache but a beard looks really shabby,especially shabby when an englishman sports it. englishmen are known better for their subtle facial hair.

  11. HounslowBusGarage said on 10th May 2009, 22:55

    I hope you are right about next year, Owen G.
    I’m worried that we may see drivers slowing down and avoiding ‘racing’ at all in order to make the end of the race as they are no longer allowed to refuel.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 6:10

      that would sort of bring back good old memories of the days of the turbo era. turbo vs naturally aspirated engines. the had something called a colin chapman trophy for cars running non-turbo engines during the turbo days.

  12. chaostheory said on 11th May 2009, 0:19

    And now imagine next year race at Barcelona with no refuelling. Even more boring. They need to rebuild this circuit or find/built another in Spain.

    And Rubens my driver of the race again. Hope he’ll start winning soon.

    • todd said on 11th May 2009, 3:25

      yeah this is why i cant see how people are for the no refuling, there’ll be less stops for tires and no pace difference because of the same fuel loads, just a bit long train of cars.

      at least with different fuel loads there was the button and rubens race – and webber from 5th to 3rd.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 5:19

      they should dump both barcelona & valencia circuits. they should return to Montjuich Park or jarama.

  13. Sorry being off the topic,but we are conducting a debate whether Lewis Hamilton is a “true” champion..We are looking for Views from UK F1 fans..Here is the link to join the debate

    • Patrickl said on 11th May 2009, 8:46

      Spamming for your lame blog?

      If you cannot see that Hamilton has been doing a superb job this year then you shouldn’t be running a F1 blog to begin with.

  14. mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 5:32

    mclaren are definitely going to win at monaco. history favours them. they’ve won 15 times in the last 25 years.

    Year Driver Constructor
    2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
    2007 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes
    2006 Fernando Alonso Renault
    2005 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
    2004 Jarno Trulli Renault
    2003 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW
    2002 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes Report
    2001 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
    2000 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes Report
    1999 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
    1998 Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes
    1997 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
    1996 Olivier Panis Ligier-Mugen Honda
    1995 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault Report
    1994 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford
    1993 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Ford
    1992 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
    1991 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
    1990 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
    1989 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
    1988 Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
    1987 Ayrton Senna Lotus-Honda
    1986 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
    1985 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
    1984 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG

    • Owen G said on 11th May 2009, 5:57

      I hope you’re not a gambling man mate.

      Winning 60% of the last 25 doesn’t scream definite winners to me!

      Hope I’m wrong though…

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