Barrichello leads one-two as Brawn are back on top

2009 Italian Grand Prix review

Barrichello passed Kovalainen at the start, allowing him to keep up with the leaders
Barrichello passed Kovalainen at the start, allowing him to keep up with the leaders

Smart strategy and rock-solid pace won the Italian Grand Prix for Rubens Barrichello.

He led home team mate Jenson Button, who qualified behind Barrichello despite qualifying with less fuel.

Button spent the later stages of the race fending off an attack from Lewis Hamilton – which ended with the McLaren driver in the barriers on the final lap.

Kovalainen goes backwards

Lap 1, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Monza, 2009
Lap 1, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Monza, 2009

Hamilton started from pole position and kept his lead at the start despite not making a quick getaway.

Kimi Raikkonen was much quicker away from third place and might have passed the McLaren if he’d had more room.

Raikkonen nonetheless picked off Adrian Sutil for second place. Surprisingly, the Force India driver held onto third and was never threatened by the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen.

Starting with a heavy fuel load, Kovalainen fell behind the KERS-less Brawn cars. Barrichello got ahead at the exit of Rettifilio, and Kovalainen responded with an attempted re-pass at the Variante della Roggia. The car nearly got away from him at the exit of the chicane and that allowed Button a run at the McLaren, getting by at the second Lesmo.

Coming out of the Ascari chicane Vitantonio Liuzzi got a run at Kovalainen as well and passed him on the outside heading into Parabolica. That left the second McLaren down in seventh while Hamilton streaked away.

A bigger casualty on lap one was Mark Webber. He clashed with Kubica at the della Roggia and spun into retirement, inflicting a damaging blow on his championship hopes.

On lap four Fernando Alonso caught Kovalainen and drove past him on the approach to turn one – the McLaren not even mounting a token defence. After ten laps the fuel-heavy Kovalainen was 24 seconds behind his flying team mate.

Brawns take to the front

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, Monza, 2009
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, Monza, 2009

Hamilton quickly left his two-stopping rivals Raikkonen and Sutil behind, but he had two problems: his tyres were wearing out too quickly, and Barrichello wasn’t dropping back quickly enough. McLaren brought him in for his first pit stop two laps early on the 15th tour.

After his first stop Hamilton came out just in front of the battle for sixth between Liuzzi and Alonso. Raikkonen then split the pair after his pit stop on lap 19. He wasn’t able to keep up with Liuzzi but it didn’t matter – on lap 22 Liuzzi’s transmission failed on the run up the second chicane.

Liuzzi joined Webber in retirement, along with Jaime Alguersuari and Robert Kubica. The latter had tangled with Webber on the first lap, damaging his front wing, and was summoned to the pits by the stewards using the black-and-orange flag (a rare event in F1 these days) to have the loose part of his wing removed. Kubica returned to the track but retired shortly afterwards.

Now the Brawns were in the lead of the race. New leader Barrichello was fuelled to reach lap 29, in which he was able to lap slightly quicker than third-placed Hamilton, putting him in an increasingly strong position.

Last-lap crash for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monza, 2009
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monza, 2009

Button never looked like getting ahead of Barrichello – he pitted one lap before his team mate, which more than doubled his deficit to around five seconds. When Hamilton made his final pit stop on lap 34, he came out behind Button and slowly began gaining on him.

With two laps to go Hamilton had cut Button’s advantage to 1.2s. There was only one second in it as the final lap began, and Hamilton was hanging it out on every corner trying to get within striking distance.

But at the first Lesmo bend he pushed too far – the McLaren ran wide on the exit kerb and spun him head-first into the barriers on the inside of the corner. Forget second place, forget third place – Hamilton was classified 12th.

This was great news for the home fans, who saw one of their beloved Ferraris promoted onto the podium. Raikkonen took third place ahead of Sutil, the pair having pitted together on lap 37 and bothered suffering botched pit stops. Raikkonen didn’t get away quickly enough and Sutil knocked over one of his mechanics, who fortunately was not badly injured.

Toyotas tangle

Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Toyota, Monza, 2009
Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Toyota, Monza, 2009

A late mistake by Vettel kept him from challenging Nick Heidfeld for what became seventh place behind Alonso and Kovalainen.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a quiet first race for Ferrari, finishing in ninth place.

Behind him were Kazuki Nakajima and Timo Glock, who had been caught up in an exciting battle with Jarno Trulli.

Trulli fell into Glock’s hands after a failed attempt to pass Nakajima at the Rettifilio. The two Toyota drivers went side-by-side for several corners, until Trulli ran wide at the first Lesmo and did his best impression of a rally driver, bouncing sideways through the gravel trap. It looked dramatic but it can’t have impressed the Toyota pitwall, particularly as he lost another place to Sebastien Buemi.

Romain Grosjean was 15th, exactly where he finished on his first appearance for Renault in Valencia. Last was Nico Rosberg, whose run of points finishes came to an end after a poor qualifying session and an early pit stop after mistakenly believing he had a puncture.

Brawn’s emphatic one-two, and a poor weekend for rivals Red Bull, means they are now unlikely to be beaten in either championship. But with two wins in the last three races, Barrichello must fancy his chances of getting ahead of Button.

More on the Italian Grand Prix

57 comments on “Barrichello leads one-two as Brawn are back on top”

    1. Yeah! Amazing drive by Tonio. We all talk about how difficult it was for Badoer to drive the car he hasnt driven for a while and Fisi who had to come to terms with the F60 but Tonio was flawless. Could have given FI their second podium.

    1. Questions do need to be asked, but so much of F1 these days is in having the confidence, the self belief and the ability to assert yourself in the team and on the track, and this as was mentioned by EJ today is where Kovi falls down, I think he is naturally quick, but is finding himself consumed in a team with Lewis absolutley ringing the neck of a car way bayond it’s actual ability. But would he be better in another team with a slightly lower profile, honestly, I doubt it.

      1. At the end of the day he’s a racing driver. A racing driver never curbs his instincts. Its his career at stake at mclaren, if he really wanted to prove Whitmarsh wrong he would have gone for it & overtaken sutil & kimi on the start. The fact that he held back to no avail just goes to show that he not formula 1 material. Ok once he knew that he couldn’t challenge Sutil & kimi, at least he should have played shortgun. He failed to do that also. & I really dunno how the Brawns got past him!! I’ve had nuff of this guy. Honestly the guy is not worth his seat at mclaren. We need someone more aggressive. This guy is just boring. He’s not a racer, I’ve never ever seen him pull a overtaking maneuver on anyone till date, after all he’s driven for 2 top teams Renault & Mclaren. This guy must consider himself really lucky to have that coveted seat at mclaren. He would have never ended up there but for Alonso. He might be a nice bloke & everything, but at the end of the day you need to deliver when it matters, in the race & Kovi hasn’t been delivering at all. After almost 2 years with mclaren. All he has to show is , a lucky podium at malasyia & a lucky win at hungary. This guy just doesn’t have the talent to take on others.

    2. Kovalainen isn’t that bad. Remember, we are comparing him with Lewis Hamilton who is rather special by any standard.

      Kovalainen beats Flavio Briatore’s “40% rule” that cost Piquet his drive. Remember, Briatore told Piquet that he had to score at least 40% of Alonso’s points to keep his job.

      Well, last year Kovalainen scored 54% of the points Hamilton did. This year he has scored 74%, so he is doing relatively better. So he is improving.

      Kovalainen is also scoring better than many other #2 drivers. Nakajima has only scored 33% of Rosberg’s, for instance.

    3. I also don’t like Heikki. But in 2007 he got 30 points against Fisi 21. If Fisi deserve Ferrari seat then he deserve this seat.

      But still.

      I think he should be replaced with any good driver. LOL

  1. I don’t think Trulli cares much about whether the team was amused or not with his driving. They have announced he won’t be with them next year and even Trulli himself has made comments over the weekend that lead me to believe he just doesn’t care anymore.

    A real shame for Liuzzi. Hopefully this weekend will raise his profile some and guarantee him a full time ride next year. Having been out of the cockpit for 2 years and performing as well as he did should raise some eyebrows around the paddock!!!

    Go Rubens!!!!

  2. I dont get Heikki sometimes he gets in good position and then screws up on the long run or has a 50/50 chance of doing well or poorly. He has had better chances then hamilton recently and if it was the other way round Hamilton would be past Kimi atm and possibly going for top 4.

    Heikki looked like to be pulling his thumb out but after this i just think its all downhill for him he only has Brazil in KERS favour now. not sure about Abu Dhabi though.

  3. Dunno why kovi let both the Brawns go by.He had Kers & even if the kers had malfunctioned , he was lighter than both the Brawns, tonio’s FI & the Renault. At least he should have held on to his 4th place. That would have most certainly delayed both the Brawn’s & could have certainly put hamilton & himself in a better shape for the last stint. Hamilton is the worthiest champion ever, cuz he’s the only guy to have won a WDC without any help from his team mate. Just ridiculous driving . Even though mclaren potentially have the faster car, I don’t expect them to clinch the 3rd place in WCC. For that to happen Kovi must be replaced. The guy’s just so frustrating. He’ll again come up with some cock ‘n’ bull story. The guy doesn’t have any talent. I dunno why Martin Whitmarsh supports him so vocally? He always refers Kovi to be a team player & stuff. If here were really a team player, he wouldn’t have let go of his 4th place. the guy just under performs week after week after week. If Ron was in charge of Mclaren, we would have probably seen Kovi back in Vantaa or Espoo or wherever he comes from. Really frustrating to say the least.

    1. What he offers McLaren is a foundation for Lewis to excel from, they rarely run equal cars and Kovi is often given alternate set-ups to basically bench test for Lewis, and these are often the unfavaoured set-ups. McLaren have been once bitten twice shy in having two head strong, do or die, self obsessed drivers and it didnt work for them and almost destroyed the team. At the ned of each year there can only be 1 World Champion, and for McLaren their efforts will always be focused on Lewis as he has proven to be the best driver consistantly.BUT I don’t think he is even acheiving in this role any more, and I think we will see a more competitive driver in the second seat next year.

  4. So after 5 races of hibernation, we are seeing serious stuff finally.

    This is how the championship contenders need to be fighting. For 1st and 2nd places. Not 7th and 8th and marginal points.

    Weird race by the RedBulls as well. They were on similar strategies to Brawns, but look at how their race panned out.

    All these crazy races artificially spiced up the championship. But this is the real deal now. The title belongs to Brawns now. Only to see who gets it. I would still bet on Button.

    And Kovalinen!! Thumbs down!! Get someone who can atleast put up a decent fight Lewis. Nico Rosberg can do that job well.

    1. Nico is the perfect no.2. He isn’t as fast as people hype him up to be. But he also isn’t slow. He can take charge of the team if Lewis goes through a rough patch, like Rubens did in the midst of this championship.

      Heikki isn’t even that good.

  5. BTW, does this race set a record for minimum pitstops in a full-length race??

    And also is it a record for the minimum no. of pitstops for the team scoring a 1-2 finish?? Minimum work (2 stops), maximum output (18 points). Brawn efficiency was perfect today!!

  6. well boys…it looks like the championship is down to just the two Brawnites. Hope we go into the last race dead even, that would be a classic ending to a strange season.

    I wasn’t able to watch the race, was it a little quiet around the podium in Ferrariville?

    And, is anyone going to take a break from beating up on Heikki long enough to shift a bit of praise Ruben’s way? What an amazing driver, it would be great to see him earn the ultimate accolade.

    1. Not really, it seemed that the tifosi were happy to see Rubinho and Kimi on the podium…

      You’ll notice that there’s only one guy here who’s consistently beating up Heikki’s performance (no offence intended), the rest of us either don’t care or think there’s not much he can do with what he’s been given…

  7. Lewis keeps apologizing to mclarens but why?. Ithink there is something not right in that outfit. This guy lewis he worships them. that is what i don.t like about him. He should like rubbens and sometimes give them ****. look what happened to rubbens a turn around after he accussed his team of making hin loose the race. be a man lewis.

    1. If you come out hammering your team in public (“blah-blah-blah-blah” or “they don’t want me to bring #1 to XXXX next season”, two things can/will happen:

      1) You’ll find yourself in a completely different car than your teammate the next race (low downforce on a high downforce track, odd tyre pressures, pitstops with 3 wheels)

      2) You’ll come out as a whinger and a prima-donna.

      It was Lewis’ fault that he messed up and overdrove the car on the last lap, therefore he is right in apologizing to the team. Even it’s the team that messes up, they’ll thrash it out in private before talking to the media.

  8. I thought it was a dull race after the first couple of laps. It is awful that current F1 involves all the drivers doing their own ‘strategies’ on different parts of the circuit without any actual racing at all. It is kind of like a hill-climb these days, an individual time-trial rather than a race.

    What a relief we have Lewis Hamilton, who never gives up and has racing in his veins. Roll on 2010 when this stretegic nonsense will finally be gone and we will have a chance of some actual racing.

  9. An unrelated query Keith, coz I didnt know where to ask-
    Is anybody else having trouble with the live blog screen? I mean I have a good laptop and no problems on any other blogs or sites with constant updates, but I just cant use the live blog. Its impossible to scroll back(or forward)… I can barely read any of the comments much less check whether any of mine got posted or not… I know there are loads of comments every second but then everyone should have that problem. Is it so?

  10. The brawns did indeed look good, but they won the race by hundreths of a second only. On saturday they were so confident of their speed that they qualified heavier than others, and landed ahead of Luizzi and Alonso by less than a tenth of a second. If either of them would have lost that tenth and started one row back, they would have been trapped behind Alonso for the remainder of the race, or by Luizzi or even by Kovi since they wouldn’t have reached him until he was reasonably light and still carrying kers. So those hundreths on saturday made the difference betten a 1-2 and maybe a 4-5 behind Lewis, Kimi and Sutil.

  11. McLaren sucx – doesn’t matter who is driving. The amount of many invested equal results? Ridiculous isn’t it?
    Lewis is by the way just a boy anyway – really fast but just a boy – it’ll take some time to grow.

      1. You know what psycho, you are probably correct. Mclaren have the second highest operating budget after toyota & probably the best facilities of all the other underprivileged teams & they also have the “most sophisticated simulator” of all. yet they manage to goof it up like this.

    1. Do you know how much money Brawn has spent to win this years title (I’m assuming they will win)?
      2 years worth of Honda budget.
      Is that less than one year of McLaren’s budget?

  12. why is everybody so worked up? Was there even a race today? There was no overtaking in the top 4 after the first lap… It was more like a boring soap opera. Everybody knows what to expect after episode 2 but it lasts 200 episodes anyway.

    Waste of time!

    bTW this was supposed to be the perfect track for the new rules, plenty of slow turns after a staright where cars can get close. Guess the rules don’t really work, do they?

  13. Whitmarsh: One stop was 7 seconds faster

    Once again, McLaren muck up their strategy, all because the simulations warned of possible traffic, which any good strategist can work around on the ground. Eddie Jordan was right, these simulations and computer trickeries are no match for sensible, human thinking.

  14. Having just watched the race again with lap charts by my side, Lewis AND McLaren did everything they could to try and beat the Brawns. McLaren’s strategy was sound. Lewis came out into clear air after each stop and could thus maximise his speed on both occasions. Rubens, Jenson & Brawn were simply too fast.

    In the end Lewis was 1 second behind Jenson just when he fluffed it and 4 secs behind Rubens. Lewis really put the hammer down on that last lap as three opportunities were in front of him to assist in catching Jenson. The first, KERS of course. The second Trulli who would have compromised Jenson slightly through Ascari. The third, by the end of the following straight Lewis COULD have had the tow with a possible ‘nothing to lose’ move into Parabolica (Jenson with too much to lose) and maybe a bit of KERS to power out into second place.

    But he’d already crashed anyway (the above looks great in my head though.)

    Really great racing at the front by all concerned. Proper stuff. Loved it loved it.

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