Barrichello busts Brawn ahead

Published on August 25th, 2009

A gap of five years is a long time, especially in the fast-paced world of Formula 1 where a mere thousandth or hundredth of a second is all that’s needed to make the difference between pole-position and mid-grid.

So victory after five years at yesterday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia must have been all the sweeter for Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello after his previous stand on the podium’s pinnacle came at the Chinese Grand Prix back in 2004 whilst still riding for the scarlet red Prancing Horses.

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Like icing on a cake, or in this case octane booster to racing fuel, victory at Valencia was his first under the white of Brawn as well.

This European GP marks the pitching of the Formula 1 circus bigtop after almost a month-long and well-deserved break. Now prior to the break the itinerary was quite repetitive, Brawn had won the first six of seven races on the calendar and whilst Red Bull’s three victories and McLaren picking up the pace seemed to shake things up a bit, Brawn seem to have grabbed back their hold on the championship a lot firmer than the spring on Barrichello’s car (the one that knocked Felipe Massa out) was fastened.

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The first row of the grid was something that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow last season but was a phenomenon this time around. Both the McLaren’s were on the front row with defending world champion Lewis Hamilton on pole and teammate Heikki Kovalainen behind him.

Barrichello started from third with another rare sight, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, in fourth.

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There was no change to the lead until the first pit-stop window popped up on lap 16 and Hamilton dove into the pits for fuel, leaving the reigns of the race with Kovalainen, who himself pitted on the following lap.

Barrichello however built up a sizeable lead for another three laps before piting for fuel as well. The move to stay on for a few more laps paid dividends with the Brazilian remaining ahead of Kovalainen after the stops.

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Raikkonen didn’t have to raise a sweat to retain his fourth spot with William’s Nico Rosberg, Renault’s Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Jenson Button trailing behind.

Alonso was allowed to participate in the race after his team filed an appeal to throw out a ban he picked up from the last race. The whole affair was just an effort to kick up the drama stakes in our opinion, could you imagine Alonso not racing in his native Spain? The crowd would have gone postal at the FIA.

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Now with all credit due to Brawn and their renowned pit-stop strategies, the next incident effectively killed McLaren’s and Hamilton’s hopes of topping the podium and handed victory to Barrichello and Brawn on a lower body flat-floor panel.

Leading Barrichello by a good 3.6-seconds on lap 36, Hamilton pitted on the next lap but the pit crew didn’t have his front tyres ready and was requested to complete another lap. Brawn didn’t need a second invitation and after pitting from the lead on lap 40, Barrichello was able to resume the race in the lead.

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Nonetheless, Hamilton was determined to make up for his bungling crews’ error and was on the tail of Barrichello all the way to the chequered flag. Although Barrichello eased of at the end to avoid committing any costly mistakes, he still crossed the line 2.3-seconds ahead of the Brit.

Raikkonen managed to pit ahead of his fellow countryman Kovalainen during the second pit-stop window, leaving the MacLaren number two to fend off an aggressive and determined Rosberg in the final laps.

Webber too lost out on the second round of pit-stops, falling behind Button and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica. Thus coming home in seventh spot still allowed Button to increase his championship lead by two points to 72. Kubica fended off Webber for the last point.

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It might have been an eventful weekend for most of the teams but Red Bull will just want to move on forward to the next race at Belgium. Vettel in particular seemed to have angered the gods of racing as he suffered his second engine failure of the weekend on lap 24 after already having made a second unscheduled stop to fix a faulty fuel rig.

Rounding up the top 10 was Force India’s Adrian Sutil with Nick Heidfield in the second BMW Sauber and Giancarlo Fisichella in the remaining Force India car behind him. Toyota had a forgettable weekend as well, coming home in 13 and 14 spot.

Romain Grosjean must be happy with just a finish on his debut for Renault, even if it came in 15 spot. Things could have gone better for the debutante if he hadn’t clipped his nose on the opening lap and had to come in for an unscheduled stop to make it right.

Rounding off the tail pack was Torro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari in a less than convincing race compared to his Hungarian effort. Team mate Sebastien Buemi on the other hand wasn’t any better, failing to continue after a spin on lap 43.

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Plenty of eyes were on the other Ferrari, as Luca Badoer made another unimpressive return to racing. Trailing the pack all day, he even had Grosjean overtake him and to compound it all he was awarded a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line on the pit exit. However, the man was still satisfied as all he hoped for was just a finish, albeit in 17 spot though.

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Although Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was in the pits mending a tyre failure, the Japanese was still classified in 18 spot.

At the end of the day, the constructors table sees Brawn in the lead on 126 points followed by Red Bull on 98.5.

In the drivers’ standings, Button still leads the pack on 72 points, teammate Barrichello jumps back into second on 54 points after Webber’s poor showing although the Aussie sits in third on 51.5 points.

Now after such a long break, getting back into the numbers game has definitely taken a toll on the grey matter but just because we’re on a roll we have decided to finish on a high and go for the digit game.

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Barrichello’s win this weekend was the 100th victory by a Brazilian driver in Formula 1. He dedicated it to (probably due to guilt) Felipe Massa, wishing him a quick recovery. The race also marked the 250th one for the McLaren-Mercedes partnership and tyre maker Bridgestone’s 150th win.

So as the Formula 1 jing-bang moves to Belgium and the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit, the atmosphere is once again getting charged up but is it too little too late for the other teams to overturn the Brawn brigade? Well we’ll find out next week.

text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: Formula1

Comments

  1. Posted by James on July 24th, 2012, 22:06

    So Sport Auto’s time of 7:38 for the GTR and the ZR1 is uippng the boost is it? Then Sport Auto drove the 2011 GTR and got 7:34 so is that uippng the boost. People like you need to get a life no-one has proven that it was modified, and the GTR has proven time and time again on the track in independant testers the GTR is faster than most supercars!!! They have built shit for so long and along come nissan with ENGINEERING and make it faster proving they can’t make good cars!!!

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