How Button, Vettel and Hamilton got to the front (Brazilian Grand Prix analysis)

Hamilton started 17th and finished on the podium

Hamilton started 17th and finished on the podium

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton may have been disappointed with their qualifying performances but they made up for it with impressive drives to the front in the race.

Take a look at how they did it and get more insight into how the race unfolded with the Brazilian Grand Prix analysis.

Lap 1

Brazilian Grand Prix position change on lap one

Brazilian Grand Prix position change on lap one

The first-lap destruction derby ruined the races of four drivers who’d made it to Q3 including the likes of Jarno Trulli. The Toyota driver had a decent slug of fuel on board and would have been a contender for the podium.

KERS got Kimi Raikkonen up to third but his collision with Mark Webber put paid to his hopes of a big points haul – and left Ferrari vulnerable to McLaren in the battle for third in the constructors’ championship.

At the restart Robert Kubica got a run on Nico Rosberg and passed him. This was an important move – if Kubica had stayed stuck behind the Williams he wouldn’t have been able to get in front of Barrichello at the first round of pit stops.

From back to front

Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button vs Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button vs Sebastian Vettel

Hamilton, Vettel and Button finished third, fourth and fifth after starting 14th, 15th and 17th respectively. They carved their way to the front using a mixture of strategy, luck and good old-fashioned overtaking.

All three of them were helped by the lap one melee which moved several cars out of their way. McLaren made the most of the safety car hiatus by bringing Hamilton in for an early pit stop. That allowed them to discard the super-soft tyres Hamilton had started on, allowing him to spend most of the race on the more favourable medium specification tyres. Plus, he was fuelled longer and could pit later.

Button and Vettel made headway with some early passes, though the cameras missed a couple of Vettel’s. It took Button 16 laps to break down Kamui Kobayashi’s defence. Once he did it was too late to get far enough ahead of Vettel to keep the Red Bull driver behind. Button’s efforts were not helped by Webber appearing in front of him after the eventual winner made his first pit stop.

Vettel made his first pit stop after the halfway mark but the team wisely elected not to fuel him to the end as he surely wouldn’t have made it on the super soft tyres. That meant he could do nothing to keep Hamilton behind, but in the last 14 laps Vettel cut Hamilton’s advantage from 7.5s to 0.7s at the chequered flag. Whether he would have been able to do anything about the KERS-equipped McLaren had the race gone on any longer is another matter.

Button, meanwhile, had no incentive to go chasing after Vettel and backed off in his final stint on his way to the championship.

Race charts

Brazil race chart (click to enlarge)

Brazil race chart (click to enlarge)

Brazil race chart - average times (click to enlarge)

Brazil race chart - average times (click to enlarge)

Before the race we identified Barrichello’s early first pit stop as a potential problem and so it turned out to be, as the lap chart makes clear. He was 2.7s ahead of Webber and 4.1s ahead of Kubica before his first pit stop. After all three had pitted Barrichello was 7.6s behind Webber (a 10.3s swing in seven laps) and 1.2s behind Kubica.

Why did Raikkonen not make the kind of progress Hamilton did given that he also had KERS and a bonus first pit stop? He got stuck behind Romain Grosjean in his first stint and lost touch with the middle bunch of cars. But give him credit – he did get a fireball thrown in his face…

Brazil lap chart (click to enlarge)

Brazil lap chart (click to enlarge)

NB. The above charts do not reflect Heikki Kovalainen’s 25-second penalty.

2009 Brazilian Grand Prix

Advert | Go Ad-free

50 comments on How Button, Vettel and Hamilton got to the front (Brazilian Grand Prix analysis)

  1. wasiF1 said on 21st October 2009, 2:25

    Finger crossed the ICEMAN stay in F1 next season.

  2. Accidental Mick said on 21st October 2009, 14:16

    @ Antifia

    Just how good is your Finnish?

    • Antifia said on 23rd October 2009, 12:35

      My English is good and I am not a native – nor am I particularly smart, so it can done… except on Kimi’s case, that is.

  3. elena said on 21st October 2009, 15:43

    lewis is just incredible… nothing more to say… i hope he wins in abu dhabi… :)

    kisses
    elena

  4. Wesley said on 22nd October 2009, 20:11

    Mr.Hamilton is not making friends in Brazil is he?

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.