Button vs Barrichello decided by non-safety car (Singapore GP analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The safety car was not needed after Webber's crash, which helped Button
The safety car was not needed after Webber's crash, which helped Button

A crucial gamble provided the pivotal moment of the Singapore Grand Prix for championship leader Jenson Button in his battle with team mate Rubens Barrichello.

Here’s how it unfolded along with an analysis of the rest of the race and the drivers’ fastest lap times.

The start

Singapore Grand Prix lap one position change
Singapore Grand Prix lap one position change

Singapore provided a near-textbook example of what happens when one side of the grid has more grip than the other. It was visible from the amount of dust kicked up at the start (see below) that those starting off-line were at a significant disadvantage.

Indeed, although Fernando Alonso lost one place on the first lap he actually gained one to begin with, but was then passed by Mark Webber and Timo Glock (Webber was later ordered to hand both places back, a highly questionable decision).

Start, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009
Start, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009

Button passes Barrichello

Jenson Button vs Rubens Barrichello, Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastian Vettel
Jenson Button vs Rubens Barrichello, Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastian Vettel

In a race that was very short on action, the pivotal moment for the championship came when Button overtook team mate Barrichello by means of a delayed pit stop.

This may have been partly down to Barrichello’s race engineer Jock Clear wishing to cover the potential appearance of the safety car, and bringing Barrichello in early. Several other cars did the same.

Button stayed out, lapping more quickly than Barrichello as the graphic above shows. In all likelihood he was then brought in earlier than he was able to go with the fuel he had left, but most probably his race engineer wanted to get him out in front of Barrichello. Barrichello lost time behind Kimi Raikkonen on lap 52, but even without that he wouldn’t have got back ahead of Button.

Button backed off considerably in the late stages with brake worries. Indeed, he allowed Barrichello to close up rather too much on the penultimate tour and had to speed up again. Spectacular it ain’t, but it gets championships won.

Lap times and consistency

Rank Driver Fastest lap Deficit to fastest lap Laps within 1% of personal best
1 Fernando Alonso 108.24 0 9
2 Lewis Hamilton 108.345 0.105 36
3 Nico Rosberg 108.352 0.112 15
4 Jenson Button 108.369 0.129 10
5 Kimi Raikkonen 108.391 0.151 2
6 Timo Glock 108.396 0.156 27
7 Sebastian Vettel 108.398 0.158 28
8 Rubens Barrichello 108.598 0.358 21
9 Jarno Trulli 108.816 0.576 4
10 Robert Kubica 108.847 0.607 9
11 Heikki Kovalainen 109.283 1.043 37
12 Mark Webber 109.319 1.079 20
13 Kazuki Nakajima 109.371 1.131 21
14 Giancarlo Fisichella 109.417 1.177 7
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi 109.852 1.612 6
16 Sebastien Buemi 110.636 2.396 19
17 Nick Heidfeld 111.346 3.106 4
18 Jaime Alguersuari 112.483 4.243 19
19 Adrian Sutil 112.623 4.383 8
20 Romain Grosjean 117.192 8.952 1

Race charts

Singapore Grand Prix race chart
Singapore Grand Prix race chart

Last week Ruudje asked to see the drivers’ positions compared to the race leaders’ average, which some people find easier to read – here you go:

Singapore Grand Prix race chart - average times
Singapore Grand Prix race chart - average times

If there’s any analysis of this or future races you’d like to see, please suggest them in the comments.

Singapore Grand Prix race chart
Singapore Grand Prix race chart

Singapore Grand Prix

78 comments on “Button vs Barrichello decided by non-safety car (Singapore GP analysis)”

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  1. Consistency chart is a great thing, thanks for that Keith.

    In any case, I think standard deviation of the average speed of each driver could give us more accurate figure.

    And doing it by each stint drivers did, I think it will work better than compare all laps to their fastest one.

    Oh! I’m not pretending to give you more “homework”; sorry, just a thought. :-)

  2. I think it’s also worth pointing out that Jenson had something like 9 more laps of fuel in his car than Rubens and yet Rubens was hardly pulling away from Jenson like he had a significantly lighter car.

    Jenson’s not the only person to get stuck behind Kova only to have their race compromised. Last year a ‘lucky’ call put Rubens on the podium. This year a similar judgment lost him points to the leader in the title race.

    You win some you lose some. JB put in some great laps too, to leapfrog Rubens.

    How many significant on track over taking moves did anyone see . . . . . ? Anyone . . . . . ?

    1. Well, we had the brilliant move on Algersuari by Sutil ;)

  3. It looks like a “cuddle” from Nick Fry was all the motivation Jenson needed!!

    I think the sight of Nick approaching me with open arms would be enough for me to jump in the car and drive away as fast as I could LOL!!!

  4. great analysis..lap time and consistency table is must for future posts

  5. Jelle van der Meer
    30th September 2009, 13:28

    Very interesting the info on fastest lap and consistency of a driver.

    Both Mclarens are by far the best in consistency unfortunately for Koveleinen it also clearly demonstrates that either he it too slow or was stuck. Having watched the race I know it is not the 2nd option.

  6. Hi Keith, I agree with everyone else that the Consistency charts are great, any chance of including the Stewards performances to that graph? ;)

  7. Nothing against Lewis, but the leader would of course be more consistent…. he has a clear track in front of him. He can run at his own pace. I didn’t examine the data (or recall from the race), but perhaps Heikki had a big gap up to whomever he was following & likewise basically had a clear track as well?

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