2009 Eurpoean GP: Patient Barrichello Wins at Last
Cast your minds back to 2004, possibly one of the most dominant seasons by Ferrari in history, when Michael Schumacher gained his seventh world championship.
It was also the debut year for the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, the last time Rubens Barrichello won a race. At last, his five year wait has ended after a brilliant victory at the European Grand Prix in Valencia this year.
After a painful first half of the season, which saw the 37 year old almost play a supporting role to teammate Jenson Button, but this time, the tables were turned, as the Brazilian comprehensively beat his fellow Brawn GP driver to the line.
Barrichello started third behind both Mclarens, but completely outpaced Heikki Kovalainen, and in the end got past Lewis Hamilton, to take a commanding win at Valencia, dedicating to fellow countryman Felipe Massa, who is not racing after his injury in Hungary.
Analysis of the revised fuel strategies saw Barrichello as the quickest man, ahead of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, despite being heavier than the Briton. However, both drivers appeared to match each other's pace throughout the duration of the race, which is why most viewers would have agreed that Hamilton lost out on back to back wins due to an error in his second pit stop.
The Mclaren team made an almost school-boyish mistake by not preparing his tires when he came in for his stop, which cost him a few seconds, which in Formula One is an eternity.
However, further analysis at the end of the race saw that Barrichello was indeed quicker that Hamilton anyway, and would've caught up and even taken the lead from the 24 year old, despite the pit stop.
With both Red Bulls failing to secure any points, this places Barrichello right back into the championship hunt, and putting him second, 18 points behind his teammate at the top.
Overall, Brawn GP delivered a great strategy and got the rewards. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Mclaren, but with their drivers finishing second and fourth, they are still proving that they have made huge steps forward and are now one of the front running teams.
This weekend at Valencia saw not only a driver who is in the twilight of his career win a race, but also saw a new upcoming driver, by the name of Romain Grosjean, making his debut.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite go to plan as he finished 15th, but there is definitely some talent in there, and plenty of time to exploit it.
The talk of the paddock though was the return of former Minardi driver, and long time Ferrari test driver, Luca Badoer, to take the injured Felipe Massa'a place. He had a pretty miserable race, qualifying last and finishing 17th, but he did admit that this was expected due the lack of testing.
However, there were definitely some better candidates, one being second reserve driver Mark Gene, winner of this years 24 hours du Mans. But Ferrari team boss, Stefano Domenicalli insisted that as Badoer has been part of the team for many number of years now, he deserved a chance to race.
As his last race was in 1999 for Minardi, he's definitely been out of touch, and there is no place for sentimentality in this sport, something the Ferrari boss had to learn the hard way.
Although, there was something for the Italian to be happy about with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in third behind Hamilton. A good performance from the Finn, who started sixth, and is certainly making it very difficult for Ferrari to get rid of him.
With the prospect of Alonso going to Ferrari, it was certain that the team were going to pair the Spaniard with Massa, but with the Brazilian's injury complicating things, the team now potentially have three top drivers, but with only two seats to fill.
Overall though, the Eurpoean Grand Prix was a bit more entertaining than last year's. There wasn't much overtaking, a common theme from 2008, but the tension of the battle at the front was very entertaining.
Now it's onto Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, for round 12 on the Formula One calendar. Conditions at this race should suit the Red Bulls, but Brawn GP are determined to prove that their tire temperature issue has been resolved, and now doubt Button will be hoping to find some of that lost form from the start of the season.
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