Valencia: Barrichello beats Hamilton
Rubens Barrichello drove his Mercedes powered Brawn GP to victory in Valencia, Spain Sunday, beating McLaren polesitter Lewis Hamilton. It was the 10th F1 win for Barrichello and his first since China in 2004 when he was with Ferrari, the only other team he ever won a GP for.
The win in today's European GP was the 6th of the year for Brawn GP, the other five coming with Jenson Button.
Kimi Raikkonen, driving for his job at Ferrari, was third.
Heikki Kovalainen was 4th for McLaren and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top-5 for Williams.
Points leader Jenson Button could only manage 7th behind Fernando Alonso, but his two chief rivals for the title, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel (last with blown engine) both finished behind him so he actually widened his point lead.
Polesitter Hamilton, starting on Super Soft tires, jumped to an early lead ahead of McLaren teammate Kovalainen, who appeared to be running slow to hold back Barrichello, and it work as he built over a 6-second lead before the first round of pitstops.
The 37-year-old Brazilian Barrichello, on the harder Bridgestone tires, put pressure on Kovalainen and on the first round of pitstops went longer and put in fast laps to dispose of the only car between him and the race leader Hamilton.
Carrying a tribute to the recovering Felipe Massa on the top of his helmet, Barrichello was then endangering Hamilton's lead until the McLaren driver pitted only to discover his crew, who took nearly 14 seconds to service the reigning world champion, was not ready with tires.
He delivered on team orders a series of fastest laps before Hamilton pitted on lap 37 - three sooner than the Brawn, and emerged ahead of the Brit after he made his 2nd stop on lap 40.
From there he held the gap to Hamilton and controlled the pace to the finish.
Speaking afterwards with the BBC, team boss Martin Whitmarsh defended the pitstop error by his McLaren team. "We had to make a late call, it was an operational error (but it) didn't cost us victory; we didn't have the race pace."
Hamilton was visibly disappointed but refused to hit out at his McLaren colleagues. "These things happen," said the 24-year-old.
"I've had so many races with this team and this has very rarely happened. They deserve a pat on the back and, regardless, we need to catch these guys (Brawn) up because there are genuinely a bit quicker than us."
Although Barrichello was strong, his teammate and championship leader Jenson Button had another bad race and finished just seventh, but the blow was cushioned by the fact that neither Red Bull scored a single point.
"What is it, 18 points (over Barrichello)?" Button enquired of his continuing lead. "It's still a big gap so it's not too bad."
Mark Webber's weekend to forget continued on Sunday and he raced to ninth, while Sebastian Vettel retired with yet another Renault engine failure.
"Too many issues," said the German driver. "At the first stop we did not get fuel in the car so the race was lost then. After that we had the (engine) failure.
"I will fight for the championship until the end but days like this ... not finishing the race is not a good thing," Vettel, who will be dangerously close to his full allocation of eight engines towards the end of the season, added.
Speaking at the finish, Button tried to look on the bright side of another lackluster weekend for him, but there is no doubt he will need to improve if he is to hang onto first place in the drivers’ standings and become the 2009 F1 World champion.
"Rubens did a great job this weekend and he deserves the victory," Button reflected. "It's been a long time so I'm happy for him although of course I would rather be on top of the podium.
"The small mistake in qualifying and a difficult start caught behind Vettel really cost me today as I got caught in traffic and it's really tough to overtake around this circuit. Still we did what we came for this weekend and beat the Red Bulls, our main title rivals, so I'm not too disappointed with seventh position. We'll go to the next race in Spa positive and ready to have a good race."
Ross Brawn meanwhile agreed that perhaps the team should have gone for a different strategy on Saturday in qualifying.
"Unfortunately it wasn't such a good afternoon for Jenson who had a quick car but was caught in traffic which prevented him from achieving the result that he could have done. In hindsight perhaps we should have been more aggressive in qualifying," Brawn pondered.
"But his two points today are valuable and we have increased our lead in both Championships."
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