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. DGR-F1 said on 11th May 2009, 8:25

    I think it strange:
    a) if Ruben’s engineer knew that Button had switched tactics, why didn’t they change Ruben’s tactics too?
    b) why didn’t Massa use his KERS advantage at the start? He moved up ONE place before the first corner – surely he could have made at least three with the extra power?
    c) why does Kimi’s car always break first?
    d) whats so different between this year and last year? We have different teams in front, but the outcome looks like being the same old thing, boring boring…..

    • Patrickl said on 11th May 2009, 8:52

      a) If Rubens’ engineer even knew this, I’m sure he would have realised that Barrichello could never pull off a 30 lap stint.
      b) Maybe he did use KERS, but the graphic didn’t work? It showed he used KERS a bit though. Maybe he didn’t feel like running into the Brawns?
      c) It doesn’t. See Australia end China. Where Massa’s car broke down.
      d) Nothing. You’re watching F1 racing. What do you expect, go-karts? Or touring cars? This is the best it gets and I think it’s great.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 12:28

      a)i donn’t know.
      b)maybe he has an injured thumb.
      c)because he is finnish.
      d)modified aerodynamics,slick tyres, 8 engine rule,ban on inseason testing & most importantly BRAWN MERCEDES.

    • DGR-F1 said on 11th May 2009, 13:20

      Patrickl – a)listen to the commentary/radio, at the crucial point, Rubino’s engineer tells him that Button has switched to ‘Plan A’
      b)Yes, I saw the graphic move a little, and he moved past Vettel. He could have tried a little harder, maybe, and got past Button, he wasn’t that far ahead?
      c)I stand corrected, but you see my point? (he’s finnish)
      d)I know its not Touring Cars, but we were promised more overtaking everywhere, so where is it?
      Actually I must agree its better than last year already, perhaps I’m expecting too much too soon…..?

    • Patrickl said on 11th May 2009, 18:13

      a) Well IIRC Rubens was told that Button changed strategy after he made his own stop. So sure by then his engineer knew, but that’s a bit too late isn’t it?

      d) The cars are closer to each other than I can remember them being and they basically start in the order of who’s fastest to who is slowest. By definition that stops any overtaking right there.

      Besides there has been plenty overtaking. Not sure if it’s more or less, but at least the tyre lottery and the rain has produced a lot of overtaking so far.

      Of course when teams like Red Bull opt not to install any of the devices like KERS or moveable front wing, then yeah, they can actually assume they will have a more difficult task overtaking other cars.

  2. chaostheory said on 11th May 2009, 11:39

    It was boring 95% because of the circuit mostly. To overtake at Barcelona the KERS button would had to give them ability to rise into air for couple of seconds and land ahead of a car at front.
    I think they really did a good job with redesigning cars and rules to improve overtaking, whats left are some of circuits that should be ‘adjusted’.

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 12:33

      chuck away this circuit. it should be used only for testing. it is belived to favour only cars with good aero grip. thats why mclaren performed so badly. even i find it difficult to overtake on this circuit,even while driving a mp4/4 or a fw14.jarama is a better circuit.

  3. Zine el-abidine said on 11th May 2009, 12:03

    Thanks Jenson Button you give us again the pleasure to see, watch and look F1 and been intersted by this nice sport Thank you. Zine

  4. Ronman said on 11th May 2009, 12:09

    Why is it whenever Webber makes it to the Podium, it’s in a relatively low key way. his move back on Alonso was great, but then he didnt do anything worth the director’s time, and all of a sudden he’s third…..

    i like him a lot as a personality, and as a driver he has his amazing moments, but he’s quite low key if you ask me…i guess we just tend to forget about him because he’s always SOL..

  5. mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 12:41

    i agree with you. he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. i think the aussies at the moment are more obsessed with rugby & V8. he needs a win to get the nation behind him. even kevin rudd belives he’s a better driver than jenson button.after all mark webber was the one who drove that useless minardi to a points finish in aussie gp in 2002. even shoemaker couldn’t have done that.

  6. schumi the greatest said on 11th May 2009, 13:27


    i like webber i think hes a good driver but…have you seen the race from 02? only 8 cars finished! and the mayehm at the start helped him no end. great drive as it was.

    what do you mean even you find it difficult to overtake on that circuit?? are you some f1 driver that we dont know about??

    • mp4-19 said on 11th May 2009, 15:31

      what i meant was,even i find it difficult to overtake on that circuit on my playstation ,rfactor,gp4 & f1 challenge, even though i use some of the most dominant cars like senna’s mp4/4 & mansell’s fw14b. that circuit has nothing to offer to “REAL” racing drivers. its only good for testing.

  7. Oliver said on 11th May 2009, 22:22


    Massa could only use KERS after he was running at over a 100km/h. About when he had reached that point, he had to take avoiding action as he went past Vettel, then there was no point using KERS just to run into the back of Button as he braked for the corner.

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