A true mix here. Italy was a great result for Brawn GP, whilst Singapore was dull, dull, dull. Still, it was yet another strong, but lucky performance for the one season super team.
Both Brawns were strong throughout the first session with Jenson in P3 and Rubens, P4. Things only got better in the second session when Jenson sailed through in P1, followed by Rubens in P3. After all the woes of Belgium, the Brawn team was back to its glory days! Jenson even drove well enough to keep a set of Super soft tires.
In the third session Brawn went for strategy rather than headlines. Both drivers were slower and Hamilton looked like a shoe-in for pole anyway; so it looked as if a one-stopper was on the cards.
Jenson finished a reasonable P6 and Rubens, P5. Crucially for the lads, both Red Bulls were behind in P9 and P10. All in all, not a headline grabber, but exactly what the doctor ordered for that Sunday!
Rubens got off to a fantastic start and darted into the middle of the pack. Jenson, too, had a great start and went a bit wide before beginning a fight with the slow moving and lairy-looking Kovalainen.
Jenson did the business and put a beautiful and crucial manoeuvre over on Kovalainen. Amongst the first lap chaos, Raikkonen had a brilliant start to get up to second place, Liuzi took Kovalainen, Webber crashed out, Vettel slipped down the pack, and all I could write on my note pad was ‘wow’. However, the important information was that Rubens was now in fourth and Jenson was sixth.
As the first few laps developed, Hamilton was blitzing 'round the track doing all he could to eke out a crucial gap as he was on a two-stopper. Jens initially moved in on Rubens but a few scruffy laps pushed the Brit back a bit. Meanwhile Rubens had found his zone and was keeping the gap between him and Hamilton minimal.
On lap 15 Hamilton darted into the pits and rejoined fifth, with Rubens up in third and Jenson fourth. The Brawns now had to push like mad to make their strategy pay off.
After Sutil stopped, a few laps later, Jens and Rubens were on the limit and doing a fantastic job. This section of the race belonged to Jenson though, as he put in personal bests and fast lap times. After Raikkonen’s stop on lap 18 the lead belonged to the Brawns and it was looking difficult for their main contenders.
The race at the front was putting extra pressure on Hamilton, who was forced to push like crazy to stay in contention for second. By lap 24 Jenson was only down 1.996 on his teammate, but had to stop four laps later.
The Brit took on fuel and the medium tires in what was a beautifully slick stop. Rubens was in just one lap later, but he too had done some excellent in-laps and when it actually came down to the race for the first corner, Rubens was miles ahead.
By this stage, if all went to plan, Rubens had the race in the bag. However, Jenson’s day was far from over when a resurgent Hamilton began to heavily breathe down the second placed man’s neck.
It was tense as Hamilton moved ever closer and the two future teammates traded lap times; of course if the McLaren could get in between the Brawns it would be crucial for the Title race.
It was edge of your seat stuff right up to the last lap, made even more tense when the camera suddenly swooped over to a McLaren in bits.
Those few seconds between realizing that Hamilton hadn’t taken Jens out and physically seeing the Brawn cross the line in second were amazing! But at the end of the day Jenson had made it and Hamilton threw away crucial constructor's points with a mistake as he pushed hard for second place.
Jens and Rubens were clearly the two happiest blokes in Italy and were all smiles hugs, and even play fighting! It was lovely to see such nice guys having such a great time, which makes me even sadder now that the team has turned into a Mercedes drone. Next year it’ll be a handshake and a nod for a Merc GP win. Oh well, we had 2009.
Singapore 2009 Saturday Qualifying
After Italy, and some great times in the practice sessions, Brawn GP’s drivers, particularly Jenson Button, seemed to throw it all away on Saturday; when it mattered.
It all started OK, as despite having an unfavorable set up, Jenson finished Q1 in P2, Rubens, P6.
However, Jenson’s poor set up choice came back to hurt him in Q2, when, along with his less than impressive driving, he could only manage P12! Meanwhile, despite struggling with traffic, Rubens made it through in P6.
A crash from Rubens at the end of the session actually did the Brazilian some favours. There were far faster cars on the track and he would certainly have slipped down the rankings if the session hadn’t been red flagged. Rubens finished in P5, but needed to change his gear box, so his crash was probably the difference between P10 and P15!
After such a terrible qualifying session the day before, the good luck began from the outset for Brawn GP, when both drivers were promoted a place onto the clean side of the track, thanks to a BMW weight penalty.
The start of the grand prix summed up the race really, glimmers of excitement but largely processional and clean. Hamilton whizzed off into the lead as Rosberg put a lovely move on Vettel to gain P2. Rubens had got off to a very respectable start and was pretty safe, whilst Jenson had done a very good job to pass Nakajima.
The race then began to settle into a pretty boring procession with only turn seven offering an opportunity for a pass. By lap five the top three were racing each other quite nicely, but pulling away from the pack.
Another stroke of Jenson luck came when Webber, who was still mathematically in the title hunt, had to concede two places to Alonso and Glock having passed them both off the race track; Webber was now in P6.
One of the only real events that took place happened when poor Rosberg lost concentration and crossed the white line before exiting the pits. The rules are clear: Rosberg had to take a drive through, which was such a shame because I really wanted to see him challenge for his first win. However, the German’s exit meant one fewer competitor for both BGP guys.
After their first stops, Rubes was P5 and Jenson, P7. Vettel tried to give us a show by pushing Hamilton, but when he pitted, with 22 laps left and rejoined in P7, we learned that he had sped in the pit lane and would have to face a drive through penalty.
Brawn had yet more good luck when Webber suffered a horribly long pit stop thanks to brake troubles. The pit stop alone took a lot of pressure off Jens, but when Webber crashed out just a few laps later, it pretty much ended his title challenge.
Webber's exit brought about yet more luck for Jenson as the Australian’s crash had led to McLaren fearing for another safety car, and so they brought in Kovalainen early. The Saftey car never came and Kovalainen no longer threatened Jenson.
Jenson did a fantastic job before and after his second stop to get up to P5. Gear issues prevented him from pushing too hard for P4, but in reality there wasn’t enough time, or frankly, anywhere to pass!
Rubens was now in P6 but also had brake issues. The resilient Brazilian clearly wanted to push Jens to the limit, but he simply couldn’t afford a no-pointer.
So when it all finished, Hamilton had done well to win from the front; Glock did well for P2 and well done Alonso for a well earned P3. However, the true winners of the day were those Brawns in P5 and P6. In actual fact Jenson had now extended his lead over his rivals and although Rubens probably finished lower than hoped, P6 wasn’t too bad.
Although Singapore was dull, it was a crucial race. Webber was eliminated from the title race and the Brawns had come back from a weak start. Basically, these two races support my long standing view that the old ones are the best. Sure we had beautiful Beyonce, bright lights, and pomp in Singapore, but when it came to racing…..good old Monza came up with the goods.