2:25AM AEDST: An unGodly hour to be surfacing from my slumber, but it’s Brazilian GP time and the Australian geography and the TV scheduling doesn’t support my circadian rhythms too well. At least it’s only once this season, but I’d trade an early start for the return of the Canadian and US GPs any day…
Anyhoo, it’s crunch time for the title contenders. Back in June, Button led the world championship by a whopping 26 points. He hasn’t won or led a race since Turkey, which is a lifetime ago in F1 land. If today’s race finishes in the same order as it starts, he’ll take a tiny four-point advantage to the final race in Abu Dhabi.
That’s one almighty ‘if’ though. While the momentum may have swung towards Rubens Barrichello yesterday, the pressure probably has too. The veteran has never won his home grand prix in 16 attempts, and in fact, he’s only managed to get to the finish line less than half a dozen times.
And if Barrichello were to DNF for a 12th time in Brazil, and Sebastian Vettel doesn’t somehow climb from 16th on the grid to a second-place finish, Button would be world champion by breakfast-time.
And another thing, why is Australian Channel 10 showing the race live, but its sports sister channel OneHD, delaying the broadcast until 5am? It appears that the Champions League Twenty20 game is being broadcast, and judging by the pitiful crowd in attendance, they really shouldn’t bother. Big thumbs down, OneHD. Now I have to watch Shamwow commercials over longer ad breaks thanks to you…
Enough rambling from me… Let me get down from my soapbox…
2:57AM AEDST: Sebastian Vettel moves up a place on the grid courtesy of a gearbox change penalty for Tonio Liuzzi, and now sits one place behind Jenson Button in 14th. Could be interesting.
2:58AM AEDST: Sunny on the Sao Paulo grid, but some black clouds are looming. Could some late rain spice things up even more?
3:00AM AEDST: Away they go for the warm-up lap and the mad dash for the pits can begin. Red Bull are already warning Vettel that his engine is hot and he needs to look after it.
START: Lights are out and we a GO! Great start by Barrichello.
Lap 1: Not much happened. BULLSHIT! Loads happened. Fisichella and Kovalianen tangle at Turn 2. Kimi Raikkonen vaults to third courtesy of KERS – but he has a damaged front wing and a puncture so he’s now dropping back, courtesy of trying to pass Webber’s very wide Red Bull. Yellow flag is out… Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil have collided in a spectacular way – and now they’re engaged in a massive argument about who’s fault it was. Alonso is also out, and I think was collected by Sutil’s errant Force India.
Lap 2: Heikki Kovalainen is into the pits after he went off on lap one – but he takes the fuel hose with him a la Christijan Albers, and the leaking fuel dramatically catches fire right in Kimi Raikkonen’s face. The Finn is OK, but it’s an extremely dangerous incident and the Finn should be rightly penalised.
Lap 3: Amid the unbelievable chaos, guess what happened? Jenson Button is up to ninth. Rubens Barrichello got away smoothly off the start and he leads. Safety car still out.
Lap 5: A replay of the start shows Vettel clipped Kovalainen, who in turn sent Giancarlo Fisichella into a spin. They’re all still running though. Only Trulli, Alonso and Sutil are out. Safety car coming in. Lewis Hamilton has come in to ditch his soft tyres and will only need one more stop. Will this strategy pay off later in the race?
Lap 6: Button is all over the back of Romain Grosjean as the safety car comes in… and he’s through to 8th with a great move into Turn 1.
Lap 7: Button dives past Kazuki Nakajimi into Turn 1 and he’s now up to seventh, having started 14th. Toyota stand-in Kamui Kobayashi is now in his sights…
Lap 11: Webber sets a fastest lap to sit 1.8 seconds behind Barrichello. Button is stuck behind Kobayashi. This one may test his resolve.
Lap 14: Brawn have told Barrichello to push on because he needs a three to four second gap on Webber if he is to retain his lead after the stops. It’s about two seconds at the moment. They also reckon Kobayashi can go two laps longer than Button.
Lap 17: Rubens has responded with a fastest race lap. Three cars under investigation: Trulli, Sutil, Kovalainen.
Lap 19: Trulli and Sutil are predictably blaming each other for the lap 1 smash, so no surprises there. Quite what Jarno thought he was doing on the outside of Turn 5 is one thing, but Sutil has a magnetic attraction to accidents…
Lap 21: Barrichello is into the pits for his first stop. Time for Webber to put the pedal down. The Brazilian comes out in traffic, just ahead of ninth-placed Vettel, who promptly overtakes the heavier Brawn.
Lap 22: Heidfeld retires shortly after his pit stop. Replays show Button getting past Kobayashi at Turn 1 but then locks up, runs wide and loses the place again.
Lap 24: After having a whinge that Kobayashi was weaving in the braking area, Button finally passes the debutant into Turn 1. Rosberg and Buemi pit from 2nd and 3rd places.
Lap 26: Webber is in the pits and rejoins ahead of Barrichello. Kubica has also managed to leapfrog Barrichello with his pit stop. This isn’t going Rubens’ way…
Lap 28: Rosberg retires. Heidfeld apparently ran out of juice, perhaps the fuel filler didn’t work in his stop. Will Kubica suffer the same fate?
Lap 30: Button comes in after a couple of laps stuck behind the heavily-fuelled Webber. He comes out in 11th. Vettel now up to third – but he hasn’t stopped yet, and neither has Kobayashi in front of him. Webber has the lead, effectively ahead of Kubica and Barrichello once those in front pit.
Lap 31: Kobayashi is in for his stop now. Who’s that spinning off? It’s Kazuki Nakajima careering across the gravel at the end of the back straight, and he’s lucky not to roll his Williams in the kitty litter. He smacks into a tyre wall. It seems he is OK. Replays show he was trying to get past Kobayashi – who may have blocked him a little too sternly.
Lap 34: Button takes Buemi into Turn 1 with some brave braking. He is up to eighth, but there are a few drivers in front who need to stop.
Lap 36: At the halfway mark, Webber leads from Vettel, with Kubica third. Barrichello fourth, Button seventh.
Lap 38: Into the pits and another set of hard tyres for Vettel, who looks like he’ll have to stop again. Not a great stop by the Red Bull team either (who have been pretty shit all season with their pit stops) – and it’s crucial, because he comes out behind Button.
Lap 40: I haven’t mentioned Kubica, who driving brilliantly in his penultimate race for BMW before he switches to Renault.
Lap 42: Hamilton makes a pit stop and almost collects the pit wall as he exits.
La[ 43: Raikkonen pits and clears the way for Button.
Lap 45: The top six are Webber, Kubica, Barrichello, Button, Vettel, Buemi. As it stands, Jenson Button would be world champion today. Hamilton is 7th and does not need to pit again.
Lap 47: Kubica pits and rejoins in 3rd ahead of Button and Vettel.
Lap 51: Barrichello into the pits from second and takes on the super-softs. Smooth stop. With Button stuck behind a heavily-fuelled Kubica, Brawn think Hamilton is a real danger now.
Lap 52: Webber’s final stop and onto super softs.
Lap 55: Button pits and rejoins behind Kovalainen, in eighth. Hamilton, who doesn’t need to stop again, is ahead.
Lap 56: Vettel in for his stop now – and he is also in front of Button.
Lap 59: Kovalainen pits (this time, keeping the fuel rig with his pit crew) and promotes Button to 6th.
Lap 62: Barrichello is reporting vibrations in his front tyres, shortly before Hamilton passes him into Turn 1. Hamilton has some wing damage after the pair touched, and, surprise surprise, Barrichello has a puncture. Well done Lewis for stuffing up Barrichello’s championship challenge this weekend!
Lap 63: Barrichello pits to repair the puncture and his championship ambitions are over barring a disaster to Button.
Lap 66: With five laps to go, the top eighth are: Webber, Kubica, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Raikkonen, Buemi and Barrichello.
Lap 69: Two laps now. Some magnificent performances today: Webber, Kubica, Hamilton’s strategist (but not Hamilton!), Vettel… and Button. Incredible race.
FINISH: WEBBER WINS THE RACE AND BUTTON WINS THE DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP. BRAWN WINS THE CONSTRUCTORS CHAMPIONSHIP!
04:36am AEDST: Button takes both hands off the wheel and punches the air in abandoned delight and proceeds to murder Queen’s We Are The Champions over the radio.
04:39AM AEDST: Button climbs down from celebrating on top of his car, he is greeted by the gracious Barrichello, who gives him a hug as the pair share a few words in parc ferme.
04:42AM AEDST: Meanwhile, Webber has made it to the top of the podium to celebrate his second win in F1. Kubica and Hamilton complete the rostrum. The Australian anthem rendition is short-changed by about 8 bars, but I doubt Webber cares at this point after a dominant display.
Massive congratulations to Button and Brawn, both are deserving champions.