10 May 2009
Button plays strategic game for Spanish GP win
Jenson Button upheld his sensational start to the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship by strategically overcoming team-mate Rubens Barrichello for the second Brawn GP one-two of the campaign and his fourth triumph in five races in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
The eight previous editions of the race in the Catalan capital had all been won from pole position, but for the first half of the 2009 event that record looked to be in danger of being broken. Button, though, had other ideas, and if anybody had any doubts at all about the 29-year-old's championship credentials in the lead-up to the weekend, they don't have them anymore.
Tensions were high in the build-up to the race that with the extra 80bhp afforded to him by his KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology at the start, Massa could upset the complexion of the grand prix considerably for the Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing protagonists by gaining a place or three at their expense – particularly as the even-numbered side of the grid had got away better in the earlier GP2 Series race.
The Brazilian did indeed gain at the start, pulling past Sebastian Vettel for third place on the run down to turn one, but with all eyes on the Ferrari as last year's world championship runner-up bravely forced his way by the Red Bull almost on the grass – mirrored by Lewis Hamilton further down the order – Barrichello's meteoric getaway to leap past Brawn GP team-mate Button went largely unnoticed.
What could not fail to be notice, however, was a pile-up further down the field on the exit of turn two, when in avoidance of Williams' Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli in the Toyota ran wide, and as he spun back onto the track again collected a whole gaggle of rivals, harpooning Adrian Sutil in the Force India and leaving the young German similarly out on the spot.
The unluckiest team of all, though, was undoubtedly Scuderia Toro Rosso, with Sébastien Bourdais and Sébastien Buemi tripping over each other in the confusion and taking one another out of contention as debris flew all across the circuit. The safety car was unsurprisingly swiftly deployed.
At the re-start the Brawns made good their escape, as behind the leaders Fernando Alonso used his KERS to perfection to dive alongside fifth-placed Mark Webber along the straight, but the Australian was not willing to give up without a fight, and in a supreme display of bravery produced a counter-punch to slice back down the inside into turn one and somehow slow his car down in time to retain the position.
As Massa proceeded to frustrate the intentions of RBR duo Vettel and Webber behind him and increasingly spoil the Milton Keynes-based squad's afternoon, allowing the Brawn pace-setters to trade blows and fastest lap times at the front and edge further and further away. Barrichello would significantly increase his margin over Button by dint of a lightning-quick opening pit-stop, with the heavily-fuelled Rosberg now between the pair, but it soon afterwards became apparent that whilst the Brazilian was sticking to his planned three-stop strategy, his British team-mate had switched over to a two-stopper in an attempt to turn the tables – meaning the pressure was on.
Also crucial during the first round of pit visits was Red Bull's failure to clear Massa with Vettel, as a fuel rig delay prevented the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner from clearing his quarry. Worse still for the energy-backed outfit's chances, Webber suffered a slow 'out' lap that dropped the New South Wales native several spots down the order and out of podium contention.
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