Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Formula 1: Barrichello delivers

Valencia, Spain. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP won his first Formula One victory yesterday in 5 years in the European Grand Prix. Starting on P3, the 37-year old drove his BGP 001 with precision and determination in the narrow, winding and scorching hot streets of Valencia overtaking 2008 Driver’s Champion Lewis Hamilton, who started on pole, after a late blunder in the pit lane.

Hamilton, who led for most parts of the race, was clearly expected to repeat his first win of the season in Hungary after a 3-week lay off posting fastest lap times in the 3 sectors of the 5.7-km street track. But behind him, Barrichello consistently matched the McLaren’s speed and climbed up grid spaces overtaking P2 starter Heike Kovaleinen also of McLaren.

Lewis’ problem came when the 23-year old pitted for fuel and tires in lap 37. A miscue in the option for tires, usually unheard of in team McLaren, had mechanics unwrapping heat linings off Lewis’ tire replacements too late while the MP4 was already in place adding precious seconds to the champion’s time.

Barrichello, running behind Lewis, took the lead and was never threatened then by Hamilton as he executed a stellar second pit stop and posting his own fastest lap times per sector. When the checkered flag was waved, Hamilton limped in 2.5 seconds later than Barrichello. Kimi Raikkonen was impressive as well pushing the Italian team to 3rd place.

Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was the most unlucky of the runners behind overall points leader Jenson Button of Brawn. The German driver did not finish the race due to a mechanical problem and might need a new engine during Spa. Teammate Mark Webber was way out of points as well. Jenson Button, the Briton who accelerated to an impressive 6 wins early this year was a calamity all throughout, struggling for grip, for tires and handling. He now leads just 18 points clear of teammate Barrichello who jumped from 4th place overall in the Driver’s standing to 2nd.

With just 6 races to go, it looks like any of the 3 drivers, Barrichello, Webber and Vettel, are within striking distance from Jenson. At the start of the season, I gathered this season’s F1 would be boring when one driver endlessly wins but it seems I was wrong.

There have been 5 different winners in the last 5 races but still… Go Jenson!