Monday, October 19, 2009

Formula 1: Button tames Rubinho

Go Rubinho! That was my last thought as I drifted slowly to sleep last night while watching the first few laps of the 2009 penultimate race in Formula 1, the Brazilian GP.

12 midnight and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. What with the race half a world away in Sao Paolo high noon while here in the Philippines, people were anticipating the arrival of yet another super typhoon.

Tough luck for the Philippines. But today’s freakish nature has a way of getting its comic relief. The Brazilian GP’s first day of practice was marred by downpours that saw the longest ever suspended practice and qualifying in F1 history.

Rain interrupted points leader and Brawn driver Jenson Button who qualified in a measly 14th place while similar luck also went to roaring German driver of Red Bull Renault Sebastian Vettel relegated to 16th place.

It was funny how the rain stopped when Rubens Barrichello stepped in for his flying lap. The Brazilian driver, 14 points adrift of Button, needed a win to bring the Driver’s title down the wire in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. It looked like Mother Nature was virtually handing the Brazilian the opportunity to finish the race this time in flying colors when he qualified in P1.

But alas, I may have spoken too soon. On race day, Barrichello suffered a puncture late in the race while protecting his lead. Call it perfect timing, Rubens had to pit and change tires and despite his surge he was unable to regain the lead.

Compatriot Jenson Button then needed only to finish 5th to secure the title with a race to spare. What a penultimate race!

Come to think of it, the last 2 years of the Brazilian GP were funnier. In 2008, Felipe Massa would have secured the Driver’s title had Lewis Hamilton not overtaken Timo Glock in the final corner of the final race of the year. Had Lewis finished 6th or lower, Massa would have the title but Lewis finished 5th. The Briton won by a single point.

In 2007, the title was either in the hands of then feuding McLaren teammates Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton but Kimi Raikkonen’s finish down the front line secured the Driver’s title winning by a single point.

So in the end, another Englishman wins the Driver’s title, a rookie team captures the Constructors’ title, one Brazilian gets philosophical, a German grits his teeth and an F1 nut finally gets his sleep.