Jenson Button leads Brawn to third one-two (Monaco Grand Prix review)

Jenson Button scored his fifth win of 2009 at Monaco

Jenson Button scored his fifth win of 2009 at Monaco

The 67th running of the Monaco Grand Prix was not a classic.

But it was another vital victory for Jenson Button who stretched his 2009 win record to five from six starts on a day when simply no-one could touch him.

Drivers struggle on super-softs

Any concerns Button might have had about Kimi Raikkonen passing him on the run to the first corner vanished when the red lights went out.

Rubens Barrichello made a perfect getaway from third on the grid to pick off Raikkonen for second. It was the only position change in the top ten as the race got off to an orderly start.

Barrichello’s lightning start was thanks in part to his decision to use the super soft tyres. Button had done the same, and the pair quickly left Raikkonen behind.

Sebastian Vettel, fourth, had also started on the super soft tyres but soon hit trouble. By lap five he’d already dropped six seconds behind Raikkonen and Felipe Massa was starting to make moves to pass at the chicane.

On lap six Massa out-braked himself and cut the chicane. It put him ahead of Vettel but Massa quickly acted to give the position back, wary of getting a penalty.

But he reckoned without the opportunistic Nico Rosberg. The Williams driver latched onto the rear of Vettel’s Red Bull and followed him past Massa, who was powerless to respond.

Four laps later Rosberg got past Vettel on the run towards the chicane, and Massa followed him by. As Heikki Kovalainen demoted Vettel further, the Red Bull driver came in for an early pit stop.

Up at the front, Barrichello was also struggling with the super soft tyres, his rear tyres having started to grain. By lap 12 he’d fallen 7.5s behind Button and had Raikkonen all over his gearbox. Rosberg was 16.5s adrift thanks to his delay behind Vettel.

Drama at Ste Devote

Vettel’s race had started poorly, but with his super-soft stint out of the way he at least had the potential to progress later on. But it didn’t work out that way – on lap 16 he carried a little too much speed into Ste Devote, lost the rear of the car, and spun into the barriers. It ended his race – and may have ruined his championship chances as well.

This was the second drama of the day at Ste Devote. Earlier on Sebastien Buemi out-braked himself and shunted Nelson Piquet Jnr out of the race.

Raikkonen made his first pit stop on lap 15 and took another set of soft tyres. Brawn reacted by bringing in Barrichello on the next lap to cover, and kept the Ferrari behind.

Button came in on lap 17 and, like Barrichello, switched from super-softs to softs. It allowed Rosberg briefly into the lead, but only for one lap before his pit stop.

Williams took a gamble on Rosberg, electing to give him a long middle stint to limit the amount of time he would have to spend on the super-soft tyre later on. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out too well for him.

Barrichello made some progress in reducing Button’s lead during their second stint – shaving off two seconds between laps 23 and 46, but that still left Button 14.5s ahead. Plus, Barrichello had less fuel on board, so he had to pit earlier, leaving Button comfortably in control.

Hamilton’s race to forget

Lewis Hamilton made his final pit stop a few laps later on the 53rd tour, taking on a new front wing as well as fresh tyres. His race had begun poorly as he tried to make progress on a short-fuel strategy that was hopelessly unsuited to the tight confines of Monaco.

He was, at least, still in the race, which could not be said of team mate Heikki Kovalainen. He lost his car at the entry to La Piscine, much as Massa did in qualifying yesterday, except he made it as far as the barrier…

Raikkonen was the first of the leaders to switch to the super-soft tyres, pitting on lap 53. That left him with 25 laps to complete on the unfavourable rubber, when other drivers had struggled to manage a dozen earlier in the race.

However the increased build-up of rubber on the track surface meant the super-softs now coped much better. This was bad news for Rosberg, who made his final stop 12 laps later than Raikkonen but wasn’t able to capitalise. Having run fourth, he fell to sixth by the finish.

His team mate failed to see the chequered flag, as he understeered off at Mirabeau, crashing into the barriers. He joined the three other drivers who had crashed out of the race plus Robert Kubica, who retired in the pits on another miserable day for BMW.

Button runs in the winner

The Brawn pair took their third one-two of the season with no such dramas in the closing laps. Button did not make a single error until after the race had finished, when he parked his car in the pits instead of on the start/finish straight, as is traditional at Monaco.

In a remarkable display of fitness, he sprinted down the start/finish straight seemingly oblivious the the 78 laps and 1hr 40 minutes of racing he had just been through.

It wasn’t just the driver that showed exceptional longevity but his engine as well. The Mercedes V8 in Button’s car was the same one he’d used in the last two Grands Prix, meaning he’d won three races on the trot with the same engine.

Barrichello finished second ahead of the resurgent Ferrari duo, Webber salvaging some points for Red Bull with fifth. Rosberg was sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, and Sebastien Bourdais scored the final point.

In ninth place was Giancarlo Fisichella following an excellent drive from 13th. Timo Glock, who started the race from the pit lane with 95kg of fuel on board, was tenth after a single pit stop on lap 57.

Nick Heidfeld was 11th, his BMW faltering in the final laps, with Hamilton 12th ahead of Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil. Despite his crash, Kazuki Nakajima was classified 15th.

It was a predictably one-sided race but Ferrari have shown signs of genuine progress with their best result so far this year. Sebastian Vettel’s lost another ten points to Button in the championship hunt and must turn things around at Istanbul in two weeks if he is to have any chance of keeping Button from the crown.

Driver of the Day

Here are your nominations for Driver of the Day from Twitter:

rjmoseley It has to be Button, a superb drive, he didn’t put a foot wrong and led for all but
filipefurtado Button. But both Webber and Bourdais did a great job on the back
ducolombi Webber did a great race, but the driver of the day is Button, who had a perfect weekend
Clarekelsio absolutely kimi! This is definitely a huge breakthrough for Ferrari and Kimi himself. 1st time to get a podium this year
MarkF1 It has to be Jenson Button he drove a perfect race
shaohanmandy button
smboyce It has to be Button – so fast and consistent. Rosberg was unlucky with strategy…the team can’t sack him now surely
Lou_uk Jenson. Did exactly what he had to, flawless race, and enough energy left over for a little jog’n’skip to the podium! :-)
noelinho Jenson. No other candidate today. Honorary mention to Buemi for his expert take-out on Piquet – beat him at his own game
matthewmaber why Button of course!
AlasdairCM1982 Fisichella, as much as it pains me to say it
40_thieves How about Brundle and Legard for finding enough to talk about during that boring race?

Name your Driver of the Day below…

Read more

Main image (C) Bridgestone

Advert | Go Ad-free

51 comments on Jenson Button leads Brawn to third one-two (Monaco Grand Prix review)

  1. StrFerrari4Ever said on 24th May 2009, 16:11

    Driver of the day thats a tough one but i’m going to say Bourdais not being biased but good that he stayed out of trouble and didnt get lapped even on a long 1 stopper.

  2. deslucent said on 24th May 2009, 16:39

    Hi Ketih,

    any comment about the longish second stop Ferrari made on Kimi’s car? Do your reckon that robbed him of a second place finish? Was the pit stop a botched one? It did seem long but the telecast did not give a timing, though the commentator (Steve Slater) noted that it was in the 11s/12s and that Ferrari (once again) made a hash of a pit stop.

  3. Navs said on 24th May 2009, 16:39

    Button was phenomenal this weekend. I’m glad Brawn has him to execute well in an exceptionally well-designed car. The whole team is executing everything so perfectly, not a single mistake!

    Raikkonen was first to open Ferrari’s points account in Bahrain and now the first to open their Podium account. Say what you will about his motivation, he seems to be doing alright. I doubt an unmotivated driver can really push the car at Monoca – so close to the barriers and completely on edge every lap. He out-qualified Massa and, unlike Mass who almost spun into the barriers in Qualy, didn’t make a single mistake as far as I can see. Plus he cut the chicane just once, versus Massa’s innumerable times.

    A final word for Bourdais, who’s been under the microscope for being unable to adjust his driving style to F1 (he’s clearly talented). A good solid drive, kept his nose clean and got the car home on a difficult track. Well deserved single point. Kudos to him.

  4. Navs said on 24th May 2009, 16:42

    Forgot to add – Barrichello’s smiles are looking increasingly forced! He only has himself to blame as his best chance for a WDC slips away race by race.

  5. Up at the front, Barrichello was also struggling with the super soft tyres, his rear tyres having started to grain.

    Interesting that we heard all weekend that “you need to be aggressive to extract the extra bit of Mônaco, but I think that the Jenson´s smooth driving style was decisive for him to save some soft rubber in the first stint where he really and got the win.

    He was really aggressive in his pole lap and before his stops. He won this race mainly with the brain!

  6. Navs said on 24th May 2009, 16:54

    Domenicali:
    “”For sure Felipe did a great race, but there was also a good race from Kimi, so this is important,” he added.”

    When they’re talking up the driver who finished behind Kimi, you know Kimi is out at the end of this season. Second time the team heads have done it this season (Bahrain too).

    • Kate said on 24th May 2009, 17:57

      Assuming these are Domenicali’s comments from the BBC interview, which has been edited and written up on Autosport, you need to listen to the whole interview.

      His comment was in reply to a question from the interviewer who asked a question regarding Massa’s race. Therefore, of course Domenicali’s initial response was to comment on Massa. Afterwards he said you shouldn’t underevaluate Kimi’s race. Doesn’t sound so much like talking up Massa’s race when you look at the whole interview.

    • Navs said on 24th May 2009, 18:08

      Yes, that was from Autosport.

      My bad, thanks for clearing that up.

    • Senor Paz said on 25th May 2009, 2:33

      Why shouldn’t he talk Massa’s race up anyway? He clocked fastest lap after fastest lap, took huge risks in the second stint and put himself in a position to overtake not only Kimi but Rubens as well.

      Brawn’s flawless strategists once again deserve huge credit for bringing Button into the pits right in time to hault Felipe’s awesome pace – he clocked three 1:15.1 in a row before Button rejoined in front and destroyed the rest of his race.

  7. Rahim said on 24th May 2009, 16:55

    Drivers of the day
    Kimi- 1st KERS car podium…….and long gone Ferrari
    Fisichella- so near yet so far
    Bourdais- showed signs of motivation and maturity
    Button- have to say it cause he’s won
    Massa- Consistency….fastest laps

    FERRARI CATCHING BRAWN NOW…..WAITING FOR ISTANBUL
    KIMI CLEARLY LOOKS QUICKER AND MOTIVATED
    AND THE MAIN THING HE WAS SMILING WHILE TAKING HIS TROPHY AND SPRAYED REALLY IN STYLE
    IT WAS REALLY LOOKING THAT HE’S THIRSTY TO TASTE IT.
    RAIKKONEN REALLY LOOKS THIRSTY FOR WINS NOW…THATS GOOD

  8. Mahir C said on 24th May 2009, 16:55

    My driver of the day is simply Button. I disagree with people who say Raikonenn was impresive, he seemed ordinary to me. Massa’s race pace was actually better, especially in the middle of the race when he was posting fastest lap after fastest lap

    • Navs said on 24th May 2009, 17:04

      Well Massa was cutting the chicane almost every one of those fastest laps in the period you describe. He also cut the chicane under braking while trying to pass Vettel and lost track position to Rosberg. Rosberg’s race was then compromised by strategy or Massa would have paid for his mistake.

      RAI didn’t make a single error the whole weekend bar letting Barrichello past at the start, which is usually heavily car-dependent anyway.

  9. Adam Dennehey said on 24th May 2009, 17:03

    Well it has to be either Fisi or Bourdais, both did a gr8 job today from 13th and 14th on the grid. Both kept out of trouble and got their strategy spot on. Big result for Bourdais today who needed another good result b4 getting more flak after the crash in Barcelona where although he wasn’t to blame he did ram up the back of Buemi. Good point for him. A shame Fisi didn’t get a point out of his race as he drove well and showed that the old dog’s still got abit of bottle left.

    Hopefully Force India can get a point sooner rather than later as their performance was great today.

  10. Oliver said on 24th May 2009, 17:15

    Navs, Vettel braked early forcing Massa to avoid him.

    • Navs said on 24th May 2009, 17:51

      So? That’s still Massa’s mistake – Vettel had degrading tyres and was certainly going to brake earlier and earlier, should have been anticipated by Massa. Massa went too aggressive on that attempt.

    • Senor Paz said on 25th May 2009, 2:44

      You obviously know nothing about racing.

    • Navs said on 25th May 2009, 5:26

      Please, mitigating that risk is part-and-parcel of any passing move with a much faster car trailing a slower one. Anyway, here’s Massa’s own words on that move:

      At the start, I lost a lot of time behind Vettel and then, because I made a mistake, I was also passed by Rosberg.

      So he admits it was his mistake: maybe he doesn’t know much about racing either, then?

    • Senor Paz said on 25th May 2009, 7:10

      The mistake he is referring to is letting Rosberg through. He was absolutely right to risk a move on Vettel coming out of the tunnel.

    • Senor Paz said on 25th May 2009, 7:13

      Maybe along with learning a thing or two about racing, you should also learn to read.

    • Navs said on 25th May 2009, 9:47

      @Senor Paz,

      That’s the mistake I was talking about all this while … letting Rosberg through.

    • Senor Paz said on 25th May 2009, 16:29

      No, it wasn’t. Read your own posts, buddy. A bit late to fix it up now.

    • Navs said on 25th May 2009, 17:15

      Ah, I see: you’re saying Massa made a mistake by allowing _both_ Vettel and Rosberg through, instead of just letting Vettel through. Thereby asserting that was an avoidable error (letting Rosberg through). See, I think letting Rosberg through was unavoidable once he botched up his move on Vettel (which was avoidable) – I think he’s refering to the botched move as a mistake and the subsequent chain of events ended up with him letting Rosberg through. But that’s hard to verify, so I’ll stand down.

      Anyway, I see where you’re coming from now – and will try to be clearer with my phrasing next time.

  11. Bigbadderboom said on 24th May 2009, 17:30

    Rubens had loose seat belts throughout the race, meaning he had to change his break bias to stop him being thrown around. If this is true then thats quite a performance.

    But JB proved that you don’t need outright aggression and his smooth style proved the most economic on tyres and time. JB gets my vote

  12. Fer no.65 said on 24th May 2009, 18:20

    one has to admit it… like it or not, appart from the fact the BG001 is the best and most dominant car F1 has seen in teh recent years, Jenson is doing a supreme job…

    and im happy for that… because you can easily see he’s really enjoying it… If it was Lewis, Kimi or Massa it would have been dull… but Jensons is loving this moment… and i feel happy for him…

    • sulzerpower said on 24th May 2009, 20:39

      Yea, Jenson – although it might become boring for the viewers, it is great to see him win, he’s always very grateful, polite, thankful, willing to talk to journalists.
      So was Hamilton (apart from the journalists bit) but you could always see Hamilton was almost expecting the win. To Hamiltons Credit, he hasn’t thrown his toys out of the pram pubicly this year after the Australia debacle. Would be good to see him win at least one this year.

  13. Brawn4Constructors said on 24th May 2009, 18:25

    As I suggested: Vettel did not even finish the race.

    It’s amazing how many here cannot accept the dominance of BRAWN. Really amazing. For those who picked Hamilton to win, I really have to question their sanity.

    Maybe they are watching a different Season than I am.

    Today is the day Constructer’s was locked up. $$$$$$$$$

  14. Rahim said on 24th May 2009, 18:34

    I STILL THINK BRAWN MAY ONLY WIN THE CONSTRUCTORS CHAMPIONSHIP…….I DON’T KNOW WHY

  15. Chaz said on 24th May 2009, 18:38

    Simple, my driver of the day is Jenson. I’m really chuffed for him. I’m also really pleased for Nico and Giancarlo and Bourdais. Congrats to Webber, Kimi and Massa on a solid days work. Fingers crossed McLaren have some good developments for next race…

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.