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. why every time i choose vettel as 1 of my fantasy drivers he fails to finish?!! monaco n now valencia! at least my other 2 picks (Lewis n Rubens) finished good. good race by both. kinda dozed off at the end tho.

  2. RAI is driver of the race. For a guy thinking of driving subcompacts in the woods next year, that was a hard core drive. I think Marty needs to give Kimi a number he can’t refuse for next year. Ron’s gone so maybe Kimi will consider it.

    Whitmarsh was right that BAR could complete his math homework. But its ridiculous to say a race was lost when you were in the lead. With a good stop, even if Hamilton fell behind, Barichello would have had two mirrors full silver (with KERS), it was very very hot, and Barichello is very very old. As it was Hamilton pushed him to the flag.

    It was clear from about lap 10 what had to be done. Hamilton needed to go to three stops and roll the dice with traffic. The track has only an 18 second pit delta. Blistering tires, BAR clearly keeping up on options, Kovalainen doing his typical Sunday afternoon FAIL, meant action had to be taken. Whitmarsh was focused, as he said, on the “safe second place.” So it was.

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley
      23rd August 2009, 20:10

      A Hamilton-Raikkonen driver pairing would be the most epic in F1 history.

      1. totally agreed, dream team, the two most complete drivers out there.

      2. nope….Senna / Prost, but it would be up there. After Alonso, I don’t see it happening at McLaren.

    2. DMW – I just can’t get Whitmarsh’s logic. His car was 4.5 seconds ahead before the pitstop. If it had taken 7 seconds like Barichello’s in the pits instead of 13, it would have saved 6 seconds, slightly more than the 5 that Lewis emerged behind Barichello after the mess in the pits. Besides, Lewis would have emerged ahead of Rosberg and avoided the traffic and thus posted a faster lap immediately after the pitstop. My mathematics says Lewis would have come out 1 or say 0.5 secs ahead of Barichello. Even if he had come out 0.1 secs ahead of the Brawn, he could still have defended that position with the KERS – the abilities of the McLaren to defend that position had been shown prior to the pitstop by Lewis increasing the gap from 3 seconds to 4.3 seconds. I think Martin Whitmarsh is a hopelessly incompetent Team Principal who lost the race because of a mistake that he is refusing to accept.

  3. Nakajima actually had his 4 wheels on, just that he had only 3 tyres. The FIA was responsible for his puncture, as they failed to clean the track after the different accidents.

  4. his 35-second lead over team mate Jenson Button showed how well the Brazilian had driven

    Jenson lost a lot of positions (and thus time) because after the start he was first almost rammed by Vettel, then by Alonso and then he had his eighth spot taken by Webber and his complaining to the ref.

    1. Race control didn’t order the position change, as far as I’m aware, it was the team that did it. And they were right to.

      1. Why right to? Webber was at best partly alongside Button.

        In previous discussions situations, about cutting chicanes, situations like this have come up a lot. The driver in front does not have to cede their place when they cut the chicane (once). Schumacher did this on numerous occasions.

  5. This will hopefully be mentioned tomorrow in the “facts and stats” section, but Rubinho’s victory is Brazil’s 100th Grand prix win, the third country to reach this milestone (Great Britain is first, with 207 wins, followed by Germany with 106).

    1. Germany almost has all its 106 eggs in one basket. :-)

    2. It will be (although Britain’s actually on 206, I think Brooks & Moss’s shared win in the 1957 British Grand Prix is the reason for the discrepancy).

      1. Since we are on this subject, how does Great Britain’s 106 (or 7) victories break down among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

  6. Paige Michael-Shetley
    23rd August 2009, 20:06

    As I see it, McLaren made two mistakes today. The most glaring one was the pit stop messup.

    The other one, though, was their tire selection. Options just didn’t work on long stints. Hamilton’s lap time margins over Barrichello dropped in the middle-long portion of the first stint as the options wore off, and he had to nurse the rear tires some laps on the second stint, meaning he ran inconsistent lap times. If McLaren had put he and Kovalainen on primes, they may not have gotten away as quickly on the start of the run, but they would have run more consistent lap times. This would have allowed Hamilton to build a bigger margin on the second stint when he wouldn’t have had to nurse the primes, and barring the pit messup, he would have held off Barrichello on the overlaps.

    1. Theoretically!

      1. Mclaren’s mistake was not ordering
        Kovi to lap a second a lap
        slower in the first stint holding Barichello back. :)

  7. Rubens would have easily overtaken HAM on last pitstop, if you look Kovi vs Räikkönen, Kovi was 4 second ahead before last pit and Kimi easily overtook him. So basicly Whitmarsh is right, of course they loose more than 2 seconds but no matter

    1. Sorry GP1 i disagree – first Hamilton drives better than Kovi so u cannot use Kovi to argue a Hamilton performance. Second, until somebody gives me better figures, what i have seen on rerunning my recording says the time Hamilton lost in the pits was more than the time he came behind Rubens after the stop and therefore he would have emerged infront of the Brazilian – now we all know that passing at Valencia on the track is basically not the doable thing. That pitstop cost Hamilton a win.

      1. They brought BAR in early after HAMs stop because of the yellow so this argument is questionable. It was classic Brawn strategy.

        The question is, what would have happened if HAMs pit stop was perfect? It seemed like HAM was held up on the yellow flag lap just enough to allow BAR to come out in front on the last stop, but we’ll never know I guess.

        Maybe Whitmarsh is trying to do damage control and keep the team from pointing fingers and getting disgruntled.

  8. Barichello has been pretty annoying most of the season, but you can’t help feeling happy for that guy. Totally deserved victory and even though I was rooting for Hamilton and it bores out the championship again, it was a good ending to a race that was otherwise even moe of a borefest than I that I though it was going to be.

    There’s one thing I don’t get though. At the end of the first stint after hamilton and a few others had pitted, Rubens was running first with Rosberg in second right on his tail. Rubens pitted what seemed like a lap earlier (which makes sense considering the fuel stops) and came out ahead of kovaleinen, but Rosberg appeared back in 7th or something (with two cars in front yet to stop). Did something go wrong?

    I probably just missed it as I haven’t heard anything on it, but considering he was supposed to be a lap longer (fuel loads) and he drove ahead of Jenson the entire race, I really cannot work this out.

    The only alternative can be that Nakajima was trailing Button at that point on the race and showed it while displaying the first two positions + times on the screen, which were Barichello and Rosberg at the time.

  9. Congratulations to Rubens. I guess Hamilton didn’t have car good enough today to win. Despite the pit error.
    For me Kimi is The Man. He’s probably driving better than ever before. Considering the equipment, he’s getting great results. That’s my opinion.

  10. Romain Grosjean will do well in the future.

  11. Well done for rubens a good win – though the pit stop and tyre choice didnt help hamilton – whitmarsh’s explanation/excuse rankles a bit – but compared to where he was finishing(hamilton that is a few races before) – it is still a great improvement and possibly will have improved more by spa.
    Button – well pretty poor performance – only time he tried to make a move on alonso – it was like amatuer night.

  12. Looking at where Rubens and Kimi finished, I have to wonder where Schumacher could have finished. Must be extra furstrating for him.

    BTW Heikki was going backwards as usual.

  13. Maybe a bit late, but I was wondering why Hamilton and Kovalainen went so light in Q3. Did they forget that they have KERS?

    For instance, look at Raikkonen, he simply filled it up, took a few lost places in qualifying for granted, then made those back up with KERS at the start. No compromise to the strategy and he even beats Kovalainen.

    If Hamilton had had the same fuel load as Barrichello in Q3 he would still have made pole. With even a bit more at worst he would have started from P3. P3 would be the perfect place to start from with KERS.

    BTW when you think “rubbish” please realise that Barrichello was NOT fastest fuel corrected. Indeed he claimed he was and also the BBC site and James Allen incorrectly also said so. They were wrong. Hamilton set his time 3 laps earlier, so he really was the fastest in Q3 after proper fuel correction. Also demonstrated by the fact that he was on a much faster last lap in Q3.

    1. BTW when you think “rubbish” please realise that Barrichello was NOT fastest fuel corrected. Indeed he claimed he was and also the BBC site and James Allen incorrectly also said so. They were wrong.

      Indeed. This was the true picture:

    2. Yeah, I was surprised to see McLaren’s car weight after the quali. In a hind sight they have qualified too light.

      However strategy like Raikkönen’s/to use KERS to overtake at start is also risky, it might go wrong too, it’s not granted that you can make up places.

      With a lighter car, clear track and softer tyres, if Lewis could have pull out a bigger gap in his first stint there wouldn’t be such a problem I guess. But the Brawn was too fast.

      1. Hamilton had an 8 second lead after 16 laps. That’s half a second per lap. I don’t think you can expect more than that.

    3. I think they wanted to make sure of locking out the front row. As its very hard to overtake at Valencia even with kers. I didn’t see much overtaking, did you?

      1. Well I saw Raikkonen overtake two cars easily at the start. Didn’t you?

        Besides if another car is faster (like Rubens was) then it’s useless to go for a short stint. The faster car will then have a pretty good shot at overtaking you.

  14. To all the Martin Whitmarsh trashers…. really?? As BS has pointed out earlier McLaren ended up 2nd and 4th! Compare that to Silverstone and other early season races! The last couple of results have been a testament to the massive effort of McLaren team under the guidance of MW. The way they have turned their season around is truely inspirational!

  15. pit stop passing is gay. passing should only take place on the track. not when a driver has to refuel. glad to see refuelling banned for 2010! bring back the racing!

    1. Refuelling is no more but tire changes are still needed, strategy will still involve pit stops. :)

      1. yea but it wont involve a lighter car on the track for a coulpe of laps then coming in later then the car that the guy is trying to pass, thats what happened in valencia.

        f1 current state reminds me of rally except everyone is on the same track at the same time, its always about the timing,

        i want to see cars scraping on the track not just doing fast laps

        1. The biggest ‘pass’ in the race was due to a mistake with changing the tires. This still would have happened w/o fuel stops.

          I do agree though, the BAR over KOV and the RAI of KOV passes were fuel related. I like the refueling ban, but it will make race tracks like Valencia absolutely horrible….

  16. that was a boring race, the only real action happened between the front four cars, strategy races are dead boring

    I never thought id say this before this race but i cant wait till next year and no refeuling. I want to see the race decided on track not in the pits

    Sundays race was a 300kmph parade,

    ………. And get rid of valencia circuit aswell,

    1. Yeah, I can’t wait till next year when the fastest guy starts from pole and disappears into the distance.

      1. I think you’re worrying unnecessarily. Remember how many times in 2002 (the last year of proper qualifying) Juan Pablo Montoya put the car that was emphatically not the fastest in F1 on pole position.

        Doing a single banzai hot lap and running a 200-mile race without a fuel stop are two hugely different demands. It does not necessarily follow that the fastest car for one challenge will be the fastest for the other.

        1. i halfheartedly agree with keith, i agree that re-fueling ban is for the good of F1kind. But we don’t have the champion of cheat with us any more longer, for him to cheat his way to victories. the champion of cheat will pray to god that massa never recovers, so that he can occupy that seat & continue his cheating ways.

      2. well that fastest guy starts from pole and disapears thing already happens in f1, i want to see at least 1 passing maneurve up the front on a race,its better then pit passing.

  17. While I do agree with you that there are drivers who qualify a lot better than their ability to manage that pace over a full Grand Prix, but in the case of this race I fail to see how next year’s rules would make it any more interesting, and would most likely only make it worse.

    Let say for example that there were no fuel stops yesterday and the grid had been the same. The only way for Rubens to have won, would still be in the pit stops to change tyres. He could have changed tyres early to get some clean air and leap frogged Lewis & Kov that way. It is still strategy racing.

    Now I would much prefer to have the cars racing on the track, but the reality is that it is simply too hard to overtake in F1. So in the event of a potentially boring race like Valencia, I welcome the chance for a bit of pit strategy to spice things up.

    1. With no refueling, once a car suffers a puncture or broken wing, they can only change tyres or wing, not strategy. Any one suffering a first lap incident, is essentially finished.

      1. Sorry, but I still don’t quite see how this is different to now. I can’t recall any fuel strategy change, due to a first lap incident, delivering a dramatic result, however I am sure to be wrong.

        Also changing tyres is also strategy. If someone lost a wing on lap 20 but was planning to change tyres on lap 35, by changing tyres on lap 20, the tyre strategy has been changed. Yes, one dynamic in strategy will be removed, but if you are really only after on track racing, then pit stops should just be banished all together.

        1. What I meant was the possibility of changing from a 2 or 3 stop strategy to a one stop strategy after an accident. With refueling, one can choose to run with a lighter car at any stage within a race. But without refueling all cars are essentially the weight.

  18. Woohoo ….well done Ruben. The shadow of Schumacher is finding his own place.

    I just did read Kimis interview from finnish newspaper and there is some good news for next year. Kimi said that Ferrari has been much better with heavy fule load than in light and thats why they are doing better in race than in qualification.

    There is not refuelling 2010 means cars will be heavier in qualification means Ferrari should do better in quali.

    bad news is that Ferrari will not get any news parts dduring this season so racing will be hard when other teams are continuing their developing work.

  19. Timo Glock “Glock Dog” sets the fastest lap and lowers the lap record with a 1:38.683

    Good job for toyota, i think they are a team who deserve a lot more but havnt shown it this season.

  20. But even after that mistake by mclaren top management guys on the pitwall, the mechanics did a great job actually. i would have been natural for any pit-crew to panic & botch it up, but they didn’t. Considering the fact that the mechanics were still in the process of taking off tyre warmers off the tyre, it was a good pitstop. Atleast they didn’t botch it up like renault. I’m sure it would have attracted a ban for spa & knowing the step-motherly treatment that mclaren gets from FIA, that ban wouldn’t have been overturned.

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