With seven events left on the 2009 Formula 1 schedule, the teams were in Valencia this weekend for the Grand Prix of Europe. All eyes were on local favorite Fernando Alonso and his Renault team as well as the resurgent McLaren Mercedes team who were able to take a surprising win last round in Hungary.
Alonso would have ground to make up during the race as he would slot in at eighth on the grid. The McLaren’s kept up there quick pace and would start the race from the front row. Brawn GP would also be in the mix with Rubens Barrichello in the third spot and Sebastian Vettel in fourth.
The race by no means was a snoozer for any race fan as we had predicted on last weeks show. While the passing was not abundant, the amount of pit strategy more than made up for it. Hamilton would start form pole on the option tires as would teammate Heikki with the Brawn of Rubens starting on the harder tire with about three laps more fuel than the Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen would also have extra fuel on board but would start on the options as well. The first segment of the race was clearly that of Hamilton’s however he was unable to gap Barrichello as much as he would need. During the first round of stops the Brawn chassis was able to jump Heikki and firmly set his sight on the leader Hamilton. World Championship leader Button struggled all day and was lacking the pace of his teammate in the Brawn car. After the second set of pitstops, a pitstop problem would spell the end of any chance for Lewis Hamilton and hand the victory over to the oldest driver in F1 with Rubens Barrichello taking the win.
A great result for Rubens who dedicated the whole weekend to injured countryman Felipe Massa. The story of the weekend was the Red Bull duo suffering massive points loss after an expired engine in Vettel’s machine and Webber being the odd man out of the points at the tail end of the race. Vettel had much more than just an engine problem as that was the German’s second engine of the weekend. This leaves him was six world championship engines left for the last part of the season. Kimi Raikkonen secured yet another podium in his bid to bring Ferrari back from the brink of embarrassment.
New faces in the crowd this weekend Romain Grosjean had a solid race by keeping the car on track and out of the barrier as Ferrari tester Luca Badoer struggled all weekend. A penalty was also given to the Italian as he allowed Romain to pass him in the pit exit and then crossed the pit exit line as he left. Camera shots of Michael Schumacher told the whole story and was a telling bit on who really wants to be in that car.
All news aside however, the race was pleasantly surprising from a pit strategy aspect and a race that I actually enjoyed. It is safe to say that the championship is far from over and this could be labeled a key race in deciding this years title. Granted all of them are, but this one was perhaps more of a season defining moment for Rubens and the second Brawn outfit. We move on to Spa this weekend as Jenson looks for some pace and more importantly a finish ahead of his Brawn teammate in a bid to secure his first world championship. However, with the resurgent Mercedes and Ferrari teams, you can guarantee that every point stolen from here on out will effect the top four in some fashion.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1h35:51.289
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 2.358
3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 15.994
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 20.032
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 20.870
6. Alonso Renault (B) + 27.744
7. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) + 34.913
8. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 36.667
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 44.910
10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 47.935
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 48.822
12. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1:03.614
13. Trulli Toyota (B) + 1:04.527
14. Glock Toyota (B) + 1:26.519
15. Grosjean Renault (B) + 1:31.774
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
17. Badoer Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 3 laps