Rubens Barrichello grabs win from Lewis Hamilton (European Grand Prix)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton gets revenge on Barrichello with a well-aimed champagne bottle
Hamilton gets revenge on Barrichello with a well-aimed champagne bottle

Rubens Barrichello ended his F1 victory drought of nearly five years with a classy win on the streets of Valencia.

A crucial mistake by McLaren on Lewis Hamilton’s final pit stop gave Barrichello the opportunity to snatch victory – but his 35-second lead over team mate Jenson Button showed how well the Brazilian had driven.

Barrichello went to his third spot on the grid with four laps’ more fuel than pole sitter Lewis Hamilton – a useful strategic advantage, providing he could stay within touch of the McLarens at the start.

With no KERS cars immediately behind him this was accomplished – although Kimi Raikkonen’s sprint from sixth to fourth briefly threatened to demote him.

Button’s bad start

Jenson Button, Brawn, Valencia, 2009
Jenson Button, Brawn, Valencia, 2009

Team mate Jenson Button had a more difficult start. Although he got away from the line smartly, as he drew alongside Sebastian Vettel the Red Bull driver squeezed him, forcing Button to lift. That allowed Fernando Alonso through and Mark Webber got a run on him at the chicane.

As Button and Webber headed into turn four side-by-side Alonso out-braked himself and Button followed the Renault across the kerbs. A few corners later Button dived down the inside of Alonso – but ran wide, allowing him back through again.

It got worse for Button: his team reckoned he’d illegally stayed ahead of Webber by cutting the chicane, and judiciously told Button to let the Red Bull past in case the stewards handed down a penalty. Having done this, Button was now down in eighth.

Barrichello chases Hamilton

Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Raikkonen, Valencia, 2009
Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Raikkonen, Valencia, 2009

With a slightly lighter car, Hamilton left Kovalainen behind. By lap six the two McLarens were separated by four seconds, with Barrichello 1.7s adrift followed by Raikkonen, Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Alonso, Webber and Button.

Hamilton came in for his first stop on lap 15, by which time he had a 7.5s advantage over Kovalainen, with Barrichello another 1.2s behind. After Hamilton’s stop Barrichello took between 1.5 and 2 seconds out of his lead per lap – meaning that, once all three had pitted, Hamilton remained ahead but Barrichello had jumped Kovalainen and left him well behind.

Now the race was all about Hamilton and Barrichello – and whether Hamilton could eke out enough of an advantage to stay ahead. Brawn told Barrichello on the radio that he needed to cut Hamilton’s lead to two seconds. But it crept up – hitting 4.3s by lap 27 and staying around the four-second mark before Hamilton’s pit stop on lap 37.

Pit stop problems

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2009
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2009

It looked very much like we were set for a close battle to the end – but Hamilton endured a fumbled pit stop, the team failing to get the tyres on the car quickly enough, which handed Barrichello the lead. Once the Brawn driver had pitted on lap 40 his advantage over Hamilton was six seconds. Hamilton’s pit stop had taken 13.4s – easily four or five seconds longer than it should have been. It seems that critical mistake robbed us of an exciting finish to the race and potentially cost Hamilton a win.

Afterwards McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh didn’t quite see it that way. His explanation was:

Barrichello was running longer than us so we tried to get extra lap. We made the call very late and we didn’t get tyres out in time. It cost us a few seconds but it didn’t lose us the race. We didn’t have the race pace so it didn’t make any difference to the outcome. It was an operational error but a consequence of the circumstances.
Martin Whitmarsh

McLaren’s explanation that they were trying to stretch Hamilton’s advantage by saving enough fuel for an extra lap makes sense. But there’s no denying that the effect of the fumbled pit stop cost Hamilton real time, without which the outcome might have been different. However, McLaren also suspected Barrichello could have pitted later than he did – his lap 40 pit stop may have been brought forward out of a concern that the safety car was about to be summoned following Kazuki Nakajima’s puncture.

Whatever happened, the outcome was clear – the fight for the lead was over and the race was now Barrichello’s to lose.

Tough times for Badoer

Luca Badoer, Ferrari, Valencia, 2009
Luca Badoer, Ferrari, Valencia, 2009

Hamilton wasn’t the only driver suffering misfortune. Romain Grosjean’s debut was compromised on the first lap when he damaged his front wing. The same thing happened to Sebastien Buemi, who swiped his wing off against Timo Glock’s right-rear tyre, giving the Toyota driver a puncture.

Ferrari’s stand-in Luca Badoer profited from this to move up from last to 14th on the first lap – but it didn’t stay that way for long. He was back down to 17th before the first tour was complete. He later picked up a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line while letting Grosjean past in the pit lane exit, and had a spin. The only driver he finished in front of was Nakajima, who’d spent much of one lap dragging his three-wheeled car to the pits.

There doesn’t seem to be any need to labour the point that Ferrari are taking quite a risk by keeping him in the car. He will be expected to do much better at Spa next weekend – a track he knows, and when explanations about ‘inexperience’ won’t cut any ice.

Raikkonen on the podium again

Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Valencia, 2009
Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Valencia, 2009

Meanwhile the other Ferrari of Raikkonen quietly nabbed third place off Kovalainen at the final round of pit stops. Kovalainen in turn fell back into the clutches of Nico Rosberg, the man who is tipped to take his place at McLaren next year, who had another strong race in the Williams.

Behind Alonso, sixth, was Button, who finally succeeded in passing Webber at the final round of pit stops when the Red Bull driver was delayed on his in-lap. This came after Button spent a chunk of his middle stint stuck behind Giancarlo Fisichella’s late-stopping Force India.

Button’s race had all the hallmarks of a driver who has one eye on the title and doesn’t want to take any risks. He shied away from going wheel-to-wheel with Vettel at the start, and let Webber past to ensure he didn’t get a penalty. The approach paid off – despite finishing seventh for the second race in a row his championship lead has grown to 20.5 points over Webber.

Robert Kubica snatched the final point having started tenth. He fell behind Nick Heidfeld’s more heavily-fuelled BMW at the start but his team mate let him through early on.

We go from one of the least-loved circuits in Formula 1 to its grand, all-time classic: Spa-Francorchamps. Valencia showed us that Brawn are back, but can the championship-leader emulate his team mate’s winning ways in the Ardennes?

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136 comments on “Rubens Barrichello grabs win from Lewis Hamilton (European Grand Prix)”

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  1. By lap six the two McLarens were separated by four seconds, with Barrichello 1.7s behind followed by Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Alonso, Webber and Button.

    You forgot somebody in between.

    Spa, glorious Spa, I cannot wait.

    1. Raikkonen!

      1. …duuhhh!

  2. You have to commend Force India as well. Sutil ran well and Fisi did a great job moving up 5 places.Overall, well deservedd win for Rubens. Cheers…

  3. who had the fastest lap?

    and about button, 35 seconds well that’s not much considering he had a crappy position to start from… stuck in trafic…

    1. Glock had the FLAP with two laps to go I think!

    2. i think it was timo glock.

  4. what a stupid explanation by whitmarsh!! I had just started to respect him, but he’s blown it with yet another lie. I dunno why team bosses lie to the public. Do they think we are fools? hammi was 4.5 sec ahead of barri when he came into the pits. even if barri had 5 laps worth extra fuel, it would mean he would have to pull out almost 1 sec every lap!! at the finish hammi was only 3.5 odd sec behind barri. people might argue rubens was in cruise mode, but still it would have been closer that what it was. And what the heck was hamilton thinking?? is he senna or schumacher to place his judgment before that of the team?? hope nico comes over to mclaren next season & gives lewis a tough time. he’s been slaking too much of late.

    1. Barichello was laping 1.5 sec per laptime faster at that time so Hamilton didn’t had a chance

      1. Good point there Keith. I think if Nakadjima didn’t blow his rear tire Barrichello was going to race 1 more lap before his pit-stop and he would had even better chance for beating Hamilton

    2. hammi was 4.5 sec ahead of barri when he came into the pits. even if barri had 5 laps worth extra fuel, it would mean he would have to pull out almost 1 sec every lap!!

      Hamilton probably didn’t lose more than six seconds with the pit stop problem. So Barrichello only needed 0.3-0.4s per lap.

      That’s not to say he couldn’t have taken more than a second per lap off Hamilton – he did between their visits to the pits at the first round of stops:


      17 1:46.591 (out lap)
      18 1:41.055
      19 1:40.622

      20 1:40.335


      17 1:39.962
      18 1:39.427
      19 1:39.499

      20 1:55.468 (in lap)

      1. But Whitmarsh’s explanation is total rubbish. i dunno why he’s down-playing his own team’s chances? his driver lead 3/4ths of the race & yet he comes out to say they didn’t have the race pace to challenge Brawn. Whom is he trying to fool? even if barrichello had gotten past hamilton during the second pitstop, i would have been a close run to the flag. not to take anything away from rubens though, he did an excellent job by keeping hamilton & mclaren under extreme pressure & forced them into a clumsy mistake & more importantly he’s proved the backbiter brawn wrong by winning a gp at 38. But i’m very disappointed with Whitmarsh’s statement. Its far from the truth.

        1. What rubbish. Im a massive LH and Mclaren fan but Whitmarsh is spot on. Barri had it all under control and jumped LH just like he did to HK in the first round of stops. Did you not see how close he got to LH after the first round.

          Just because LH lead 3/4 of the race meant nothing, this is modern F1 Brawn knew they had the pace and extra laps to jump the mclarens. Even without the dodgy stop Barri was setting new fastest laps while a heavy hamilton was in high 1.40s messing about with Rosberg.

          Get of Whitmarsh’s case. Mclaren have done a great job. 2nd and 4th is incredible, never thought id see it this year! Well done Barri too!

          1. What rubbish Thesti – remember the three stopping Hamilton in Turkey last year – having a slower car doesnt mean you stop going for the win. It was Whitmarsh and his crew who messed not Hamilton – clearly he is one of those blame-passing guys. In Melbourne earlier in the year, he was playing the blame game that cost Ron Dennis and others their jobs. Same thing here as well. This guy is the wrong CEO for McLaren – watch this space.

          2. ron dennis left on his own terms.

        2. mp4, I think Barri would have came out in front of Hamilton either way, or it would have been extremely close. It would have been pretty close repeat of the First pit stop…

          You should in fact thank Whitmarsh for pushing with the McLaren developments which is bringing Hamilton back to life. Whitmarsh is a top team boss, and I think he is doing a great job. personally I like him very much :)

          1. mp4. You are wrong.

          2. no he is not

        3. MP4, Withmarsh was right. The moment Lewis started complaining about brake problems, Mclaren started conserving the car. BrawnGP had the fastest car of the weekend, and drove well within their ability.
          The most we were robbed of was a chance to see Lewis attacking Barichello with a KERS equipped car.

          1. or defending with KERS – either way the pitstop lost Lewis the race. To try and say that it was irrelevant is just so totally disgusting

        4. I think Hamilton gave a more accurate report of what happened.
          regardless, i think that if the pitstop wasn’t botched Hamilton would have had the time to keep ahead, or at least we would have had a wheel to wheel finish,.. imagine that.. 2 cars with the same running gear that would have been awesome…

      2. How do you figure that Barri only need 0.3-0.4s per lap?

        Hamilton was 4 seconds ahead and Barrichello stopped 3 laps later.

        Did you mean 1.3-1.4s per lap maybe?

        Hamilton probably didn’t lose more than six seconds with the pit stop problem.

        Hamilton was six seconds down from Barrichello at their next lap. At that time Barri was on new supersofts and thus half a second per lap faster. So I’d say Barri was 5.5s in front of Hamilton after his stop. That 6s is then exactly the amount that cost Hamilton the position.

        1. BTW it’s not just the time he lost in the pitstop itself. Hamilton comes out right behind Rosberg so he cannot set any fast laps of his own.

          1. which a certain team boss seems to conveniently ignore

        2. The 3 overlapping laps are done while the driver you’re up against (Hamilton in this case) completes those same laps with a very high fuel load.

          1. Yeah and?

      3. Brawn told Barrichello on the radio that he needed to cut Hamilton’s lead to two seconds. But it crept up – hitting 4.3s by lap 27 and staying around the four-second mark before Hamilton’s pit stop on lap 37.

        This highlights that Hamiltons’ pitstop did indeed cost him the lead. Brawn were not expecting to jump Hamilton as the gap was too big, close yeah but not enough to take a descisive lead. Whitmarsh is right in his assessment of the cause of the delay but he is wrong with his assessment of the outcome.

        Plus, even if there was no delay and Hamilton did come out in second, he would have been close enough to challenge Barrichello before the end and with the use of kers may well have got past.

        1. Well deserved win for Rubens, but I think Whitmarsh was not 100% spot on. Yes, Barri was gaining up on LH and we would’ve got to see great racing if only, the crew didn’t mess up to a 13 sec pit stop!!!!

  5. Hmmm… so… looks like grandpa is not dead yet.

  6. Well deserved win for Rubens…CHEERS !

  7. Crap…I had my money on Badoer for the win.

    1. lmao. That’s just mean

  8. Raikkonen…gr8 job
    deserve to be in Ferrari

  9. To all the Ruben naysayers/Jenson is a superior driver than he – HA HA

  10. I’m sure all you McLaren fans will disagree, but I’m almost positive they brought Rubens in 2 laps early due to the yellow flag from Nakajima. I’m sure they were worried about a SC which would have been dire for Barrichello if he had not pitted.

    So you could blame it on the Mclaren pit stop and the Nakajima yellow or just accept the fact that Rubens put in a stellar drive, doing fast lap after fast lap when he needed to. Something Brawn had perfected with Schumacher many years ago.

    It’s much easier to find a mistake and point to that as the cause for the loss, but in reality it looks to me that the mistake was in the opening stint. Lewis couldn’t pull out a big enough lead over Rubens to make his strategy pay off.

    On another note, I’ll be surprised if Badoer is in the car next week. That was more humiliating than a botched pit stop. Let the rumors begin, Michael loves Spa, was his first GP, could it be his last? There are rumors that Massa could be back for Monza. Either way if Schumi is still out, they will have to put Gene in the car. Luca will be sacked before the 2010 season.

    1. I’m sure all you McLaren fans will disagree, but I’m almost positive they brought Rubens in 2 laps early due to the yellow flag from Nakajima.

      That’s what Whitmarsh said after the race (it’s in the report).

    2. Ferrari confirmed Badoer will race in Belgium as well…

      1. he will drive

  11. Sorry if this appears to be a stupid question, I may have missed something.
    Button had to give up his place when he cut the chicane at the beginning. Why didn’t Alonso have to do the same?

    1. Button and Webber were racing side by side, Alonso was by himself. Yes he gained a slight advantage too, but the rules never make you give up a spot for missing a chicane while running by yourself.

      1. Ahh ok, thanks.

  12. Great driving by Rubens all weekend and a much deserved win. However, Whitmarsh made himself look a complete fool today with his “we never had the pace to win today” line and his further insistance that the 7 seconds they lost in the final pitstop was only 2 seconds and did not cost Lewis the win. Absolute cobblers. If he thinks that a normal McLaren pitstop takes over 11 seconds, he needs to replace his pit crew! Team screwed up and cost Lewis the win, end of.

    Of the circuit itself, well it looked better than last year, mainly by dint of some much needed paint on the walls I suspect (wasn’t it all grey last year?). But the outcome was the same. A processional race with no overtaking possible on the track. The only variation in position came from the inevitable pitstop strategy differences between the teams. Now I know Keith doesn’t agree with me on this one, but I still think taking refueling away next year will lead to more races being decided in qualifying and even fewer race position changes than we see now. This cannot be good for F1. Just my tuppence worth….

    1. Of the circuit itself, well it looked better than last year, mainly by dint of some much needed paint on the walls I suspect (wasn’t it all grey last year?).


    2. I seen Whitmarsh giving his explanation with Jake and the gang and he looked nervous when they pressed him about the botched pitstop. He is covering himself to keep his job, trying to dumb it down so everybody will think it wasn’t his or pitcrew’s fault.

      I gave this circuit the benefit of the doubt last year as it was the inaugral race but I am more certain this circuit will be bad with no refueling next year. We are stuck with it for another 5 years unless Bernie has a get out clause because of low attendance. I don’t like this circuit also from a TV point of view, the colouring is so monotonous and bland, because of the ammount of turns the picture kept changeing very quickly it makes my eyes go funny and gives me headaches. I have never had a problem with Canada though. Maybe its where they put the tv cameras I don’t know. They should replace Valencia for Gilles Villeneuve. Looks like its back next year anyway from reports.

      1. He is covering himself to keep his job,

        dont think so..

        1. i think so

  13. Heikki really under-performed today. Martin Whitmarsh was telling the same thing, Heikki’s race pace is a matter of concern. And he did nothing to address those concerns.

    About the pitstop, yet again, I will agree with Martin Whitmarsh. Lewis’s race pace was good, better than Heikki’s, but clearly no match for Rubens.

    The theory we could have had a close finish also holds little substance, given that Rubens was on the softer tyre (possibly faster) and Lewis was on the harder one.

    BTW, 1 query: why did Brawn opt for longer time on the supersofts than Mclaren and other teams? Does that mean that the Brawn car is too hard on its tyres, isn’t this contrary to what the issue was till the last race? I am confused, someone please explain.

    1. Sorry, a typing mistake. Why did Brawn opt for longer time on the harder tyre than Mclaren and other teams?

      1. They probably chose to use the hard tyres more because of the effect the heat would have on the soft tyres, which did hamper Hamilton’s second stint. Running the first part of the race on hards also means they could use softs for the other two stops (a strategy they used in Turkey with Button), although they probably felt it was more prudent to stay on hard for the bigger portion.

      2. A race track generally improves as the race progresses, often the reason why most teams use their none optimum tyres towards the end of the race.

        1. Personally, I think a more pertinent question is why did McLaren opt for longer time on the softer tyre than Brawn? It looks like the wrong decision (in hindsight)

          1. Many comments here about how Hamilton lost the race. I tend to agree with the folk that are leaning toward the fact that if Lewis’ race wasn’t lost in the pits, it may as well have been lost on track.

            I think Ruebens had the pace, he was flying, he was pushing hard, in a very composed manner. You saw in the latter stages of the race, when he was trading lap times with Lewis, he always had control, he knew exactly when to push. Good drive from the top 3, Kimi looked fantastic in the latter bits, hope he can carry this on to Spa.

            How about Kovi? I think thats it. He’s drawn his last straw, its time for him to go, there are no more excuses. He showed in quali that he had similar pace to Lewis, with a heavier car, hence the cars may have been similar, but come raceday, he just never seems to come to terms with it. He’s not worthy of a Mclaren drive, he lacks the required pace. Rosberg or Kubica for that seat!!

            Poor old Luca Badoer eh? What a mess he’s got himself into, Schumi didn’t seem very impressed on the pitwall, I believe he would have done a better job even with the neck injury. They’ll get rid of him after Spa, and possible give Marc Gene a shot? How great would it be if the annouce that Alonso will be driving for them soon!! I love Kimi, but I think he feels the need to leave the sport…but the possibility of Alonso in a Ferrari is..well..mouth watering!!

  14. I do believe that Hamilton was not at all happy about his 2nd place. Just coming accustomed to winning again, and a team error hands the top spot to Rubens. No wonder he tried to run him down in Parc Ferme.

    1. Yes, that was an amusing moment in Parc Ferme. I think he was ok with it, this season has mellowed him somewhat – whether that’s a good or bad thing I’m not sure yet

    2. I knew something like that would happen as Hamilton was not yet in while Barichello was walking along the fence. But in reality, its a tight squeeze in there.

    3. Yeah Hamilton looked really upset. I don’t think he even shook Barrichello’s hand or spoke to him. He just kept his back towards Barrichello.

      1. wrong Patrick – Hamilton actually hugged Rubens, shock his hand and congragulated him – Rubens even joked to him how he wanted to get him. There was a lot of light hearted banter between the two.

      2. Hamilton did congratulate RB after he got out the car. Good old handshake and hug.

        1. Odd I missed that on TV. After the drivers came up the stairs, they were on Rubens all the time and only Raikkonen gave Rubens a pet. Guess it must have happened earlier or later then.

          1. Yeah Hamilton gave Barrichello a pat on the back and a hug straight Hamilton had got out of his car and put the steering wheel back and Barrichello had finished celebrating with his team.

          2. Ah thanks.

          3. Earlier. Perhaps you were taking intermeittent naps. :-)

          4. Well I was laughing that Rubens had to jump out of the way for Hamilton. Probably I was distracted after that :)

  15. i wonder if Badoer who i now call ‘BAD’ came away from the weekend with any pay… after 5 fines u would think there cant be much left over!

  16. one thing guys u havent discussed.there is only one team who has been on podium for the last three races and that is no other then FERRARI

    1. Yes, Raikkonen was fairly quiet in the race. They have been putting in good results, but I don’t think they will win a race this year as they have stopped development unless they get lucky. With only 1 driver carrying the team, they are doing well off the back of Brawns and Red bulls recent bad form in the last few races. The last 3 races Button scores 8pts Barrichello 13pts Webber 16pts Vettel 8pts Raikkonen 14pts. The only driver who scored more is Hamilton with 18pts. This will be a tight fight to the end if this continues i think.

    2. Impressed he finished ahead of Kovalainen.

      1. Kovalainen is the must frustrating humanoid i’ve ever come across ;) Is he mercedes’ answer to Honda’s Asimo ? If that is the case they no longer need him & neither do i. If they haven’t noticed, honda have already pulled out & mercedes can do away with this humanoid kovi.

        1. *must=most

  17. I would like someone to explain the performance differences between Jenson and Rubens?

    Totally baffling, at least to me.

    1. Vettel’s agressive squeeze losing them both places, Jenson having to concede a place for cutting a corner when Alonso did not, being stuck behind a slower car where overtaking is nigh on impossible (any one see any on track overtaking for a points position? I didn’t) and Ruben’s having a great weekend.

      When in clear air Jenson was fast.

    2. What happened to Button today is no different from what Barichello has experienced earlier this season. Lose a position or 2 and next time around you lose even more.

  18. Kimi quietly makes his way to the podium again.

  19. Indeed, great drive by Kimi that was pretty much perfect considering the machinery.

    On a side note, what a terrible venue Valencia is – yet again virtually no overtaking and millions of slow corners with no gradient change.

    Thank god Spa is only a week away. :)

  20. yeah ….Iceman style….

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