Rubens Romps It at Monza – Another Brawn 1-2
Rubens Barrichello, with championship-leading teammate Jensen Button, romped home to take 1st and 2nd for Brawn GP at today’s Italian Grand Prix from Monza. Extended coverage from the BBC followed a strategic race which demonstrated the various technical facets of Formula One well. Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren almost caught the Brawns – leading the race from pole position but just could not keep with them following his 2 pit stops to their brave, single-stop strategy. Mystery of the day was Heikki Kovalainen, whose McLaren kicked off from 4th place on the grid and – mathematically – should have won the race based on mix of strategy, tyres and fuel load. His early laps were appalling as he got taken by Button and a host of others. The latter part of the race saw him storming up the field to take 6th and, belatedly, demonstrating his racing ability. Sadly, probably not doing enough to retain his seat for 2010 but time will tell.
Hamilton drove superbly, taking the race back to the Brawns, closing on Button in the final laps, and a shoo-in to take 3rd place. After the first stop, he was where he needed to be but both Barrichello and Button held him off admirably to make his 2 stops pay. The gap was take-able and Hamilton challenged aggressively. Pushing hard out of Lesmo, it seems the back stepped out and the McLaren shunted into the sidewall to take Lewis out of the race on the penultimate lap. Kimi Raikkonen took this gift and joined the Brawn chaps on the podium for Ferrari – a welcome result for the local tifosi. Adrian Sutil kept his Force India glued to the rear of the Ferrari as his team’s steadily improving car echoed the race in Spa where former teammate Fisichella could not quite take Raikkonen to win (and promptly joined Ferrari to temporarily fill Massa’s shoes). Possibly not the most exciting of races if all you do is watch the front but, for me, great value as the field got shaken up along the way.
This lower-downforce track seemed to favour Brawn and Force India, whilst Red Bull were well off the pace – Vettel grabbing a single point thanks only to Hamilton’s shunt. Mark Webber appeared to get pushed off by Kubica on the first lap, putting paid to any credible challenge to the Championship and leaving the final 4 races to the Brawn teammates to race each other for the title.
The BBC package remains good quality with Brundle, Coulthard and Jordan keeping the interest-factor high, amiably marshalled as they are by Jake Humphrey. Shame that Lame-duck Legard continues to commentate as if he is on radio – he really needs to go. Auntie is clearly following the criticisms from fans as they encouraged DC and Brundle to do a double-act on the pre-race grid walkabout to good effect. Lee McKenzie and Ted Kravitz continue to add credibility with strong pit-lane and interview bites during the race. The post-race F1 Forum available for digital viewers is also good viewing with a much wider look at the result, the news and the future. Good stuff.
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