Monza is the oldest built-for-purpose racing track still in use in Formula 1 and it was there that Ferrari old-boy Rubens Barrichello secured a popular victory in today’s 2009 Italian Grand Prix.
Barrichello won from Button with Kimi Raikkonen in third.
There was only one casualty on the first lap, as Mark Webber of Red Bull spun out after connecting with Kubica.
The team at Brawn told their Championship leader, Jenson Button, he had to remain closer to the pace of the early leader, Hamilton, who led from Raikkonen at the end of the first lap. Button was in fifth on his 1 stop strategy, and had to stay within 0.9 seconds of Hamilton’s lap times in order for his pit strategy to pan out for him.
Monza Italian Grand Prix Result:
- Rubens Barrichello
- Jenson Button
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Adrian Sutil
- Fernando Alonso
- Haiki Kovalainen
- Nick Heidfeld
- Sebastian Vettel
- Giancarlo Fisichella
- Kazuki Nakajima
- Timo Glock
Adrian Sutil, in the Force India had been passed by Raikkonen at the start, but he was soon pushing the Ferrari for pace, though it proved difficult for him to find a way past. The strategy of starting light in today’s Formula 1 does not pay off unless you get a flying start.
Once the pit stops started in earnest, around about lap number 15,Lewis Hamilton, at the front of the pack, as is his way, put in a fastest lap before his in-lap. McLaren’s mechanics put Hamilton back out in fifth after the first of his two scheduled stops. Hamilton’s stop was two laps earlier than anticipated, though, after Hamilton had reported a little oversteer which was costing vital time.
The two Brawn cars, Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, once freed up on their one stop strategy began flying at a pace that was quick enough to hold off the chasing two-stoppers.
Liuzzi retired on his first drive for Force India on lap 23 after a mechanical failure.
Hamilton’s pace on his middle stint was good, but his lap times were consistently slightly below what his team asked of him during this period – primarily because Button and Barichello were hooking up hot times in their Brawn machines lap after lap, rather than anything lacking on Hamilton’s part. Barichello put in a fastest lap on lap 27.
Fisichella, on his first drive for Ferrari at his home Grand Prix, drove a reasonable race in the last third of drivers, as he looked to get to grips with the car which has been troubling drivers all season. His old team-mate, Adrian Sutil, was driving a steady race too in his Force India, holding onto fourth place without threatening or being threatened for much of the race – only Raikkonen can be said to have ‘raced’ past Sutil, as the two Brawns were on a different strategy in arguably the best car of the weekend.
This idea was further enhanced when Hamilton emerged from his second stop, after both Brawns had already flown past the end of the pit straight, both with their only stop having been made. Hamilton would have to pass both Brwn cars to win this years Italian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen briefly led the race from Sutil while those two were waiting to make their second stop, with 18 laps remaining, however, Barichello, Button and Hamilton followed close behind with all of their changes made.
Adrian Sutil looks a very competent and consistent driver – and he underlined both his and his car’s speed when putting in the fastest lap of the race in this phase before he pitted for the second and final scheduled stop.
Sutil caught the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and both pitted on the same lap to set up a battle of the mechanics. Raikkonen seemed to jump start too soon, and Adrian Sutil ran over his wheel changer: the net result was no change of position. If Sutil’s nerves had held together, he would have taken fourth place from Raikkonen, however, this brief drama was one of the most exciting moments of a race which had become very tactical.
After these moments, the race order was relatively settled as it looked likely to finish barring any significant moves or mistakes. Rubens Barrichello led from Jenson Button with Lewis Hamilton closing on them in third, but with only 14 laps remaining and 2.2 seconds to make up on his fellow Brit.
Hamilton was chipping a few tenths per lap from Button’s advantage, but catching is far easier than passing in Formula 1, even with the McLaren’s Curs System installed. The Grandstand were, however, set up for a spectacular finish with the faster car in third and gaining.
Sutil was also catching his man Raikkonen again in the battle for fourth and fifth, but the lack of Curs in the Force India versus the Curs System of Ferrari means a pass without an error is almost impossible on a circuit like Monza.
Driver’s Championship Standings After Monza:
- Jenson Button – 80 Pts
- Rubens Barrichello – 66 Pts
- Sebastian Vettel – 54 Pts
- Mark Webber – 51.5 Pts
- Kimi Raikkonen – 40 Pts
Sebastian Vettel’s race had never been going well when he went into the gravel trap on lap 42. His position at the time was ninth, which is not enough to help what must now be dwindling Championship aspirations. Vettel continued, but failed to pick up more than just one point.
With Hamilton pushing him, Jenson Button began closing on Rubens Barichello in the last eight or nine laps, and began putting in incredibly quick laps.
The two Toyotas proved there were no team orders as Trulli and Glock raced each other off the track with four laps remaining. In thirteenth and fourteenth place at the time, there were no points at stake.
Though there had been little excitiment in terms of passing in this race, Lewis Hamilton saved the biggest moment for the last lap when he crashed out with fewer than five corners remaining. Hamilton was still pushing towards Button, but with no realistic hope of passing him, the mistake was a big and avoidable one.
Home Ferrari fans had something to cheer as Raikkonen picked up third podium spot as a result of Hamilton’s error. Adrian Sutil will also be rueing his pit-lane rush of blood to the head as, but for his nervy accident in the pits, he would have made it to the Monza podium.
This result has taken Brawn clear at the head of the Constructors Championship after Red Bull failed to outscore them yet again.
Button saw his lead in the driver’s championship extend over all but his teammate Rubens Barrichello who must pick up more than three points per race on the Brit between now and the end of the season if he is to turn around the current lead.
With only four races remaining, significant points in each of them for Button would see him win the 2009 title – unless Barrichello can keep on winning. This battle seems to be between the two Brawn men.
Another excellent drive from the Brazillian means that few would argue if he did go on to win the Championship from the Brit. Their embrace after this Grand Prix indicates the great affection and mutual respect shared by the two drivers: we should expect a fair battle between them, to be decided by race pace and passing, pure and simple.
In this season long game of poker, Button holds the aces, but Rubens certainly has a couple of ‘outs’ remaining. Fans of the sport will be hoping for this Championship to go to the wire once more this year, which means they must root for Barrichello in the next couple of races at least as the winner, barring anything major happening with Red Bull’s pace, will come from these two.
Those same Formula 1 fans must also be excited that at least four teams were competitive today, and, up until the final lap, there were key position changes.
Although passing was notable by its absense, this race was as exciting as it gets without passing, as strategy, pitlane incidents and driver errors all played their part.