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

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)

  1. 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

    • Austin said on 23rd August 2009, 18:52

      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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd August 2009, 20:34

      Impressed he finished ahead of Kovalainen.

      • mp4-19b said on 24th August 2009, 3:22

        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.

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

    Totally baffling, at least to me.

    • Carl Craven said on 23rd August 2009, 18:49

      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.

    • Oliver said on 23rd August 2009, 20:09

      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.

  3. Wesley said on 23rd August 2009, 18:35

    Kimi quietly makes his way to the podium again.

  4. John H said on 23rd August 2009, 19:20

    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. :)

  5. Rahim said on 23rd August 2009, 19:21

    yeah ….Iceman style….

  6. BNK Racing said on 23rd August 2009, 19:23

    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.

  7. 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.

    • Paige Michael-Shetley said on 23rd August 2009, 20:10

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

    • NDINYO said on 24th August 2009, 10:14

      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.

  8. Oliver said on 23rd August 2009, 19:30

    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.

  9. Patrickl said on 23rd August 2009, 19:49

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd August 2009, 20:31

      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.

      • Patrickl said on 23rd August 2009, 21:39

        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.

  10. Giant21 said on 23rd August 2009, 19:59

    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).

    • Oliver said on 23rd August 2009, 20:15

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd August 2009, 20:33

      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).

      • Giant21 said on 24th August 2009, 2:48

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

  11. Paige Michael-Shetley said on 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.

  12. 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

    • NDINYO said on 24th August 2009, 11:49

      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.

      • 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Bartholomew said on 23rd August 2009, 21:01

    Romain Grosjean will do well in the future.
    Cheers

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