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Brilliant Button wins in Bahrain

Jenson Button overtakes Lewis Hamilton

Highlights - Button wins Bahrain GP

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport in Bahrain

Brawn driver Jenson Button won the Bahrain Grand Prix to secure his third victory in four races this season.

Button started fourth but was up to third by the start of the second lap, crucially fighting off a challenge from Lewis Hamilton's improving McLaren.

Button chased the leading Toyotas hard early on and moved into a lead he never lost when they made their pit stops.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was second from Toyota's Jarno Trulli as Hamilton had his best finish of 2009 in fourth.

Hamilton's fast start, made possible by the Kers power-boost system on his McLaren, catapulted him ahead of Vettel on the run down to the first corner and was crucial in deciding the result of the race.

Despite starting third and fourth, Vettel and Button were the favourites for victory once the drivers' respective fuel loads were taken into account.

And the pace of the two cars was close enough over a race stint to suggest that it would have been a close race.

With Glock passing pole-sitter Trulli off the line for the lead, Hamilton rocketed into third, with Button also slipping ahead of Vettel.

The first lap was so important as I knew Vettel was going long - but I made it work and I was up to third by the end of that lap, so I was delighted

Jenson Button

Then, in the decisive moment of the race, Button was able to take advantage of a mistake by Hamilton at the end of the first lap to pass the McLaren impressively and move into third place at Turn One on the second lap.

That meant Button was able to lap at his maximum potential for his entire first stint, trailing the Toyotas at a few seconds' distance, while Vettel's pace was compromised in the early laps by Hamilton.

Consequently, Button emerged in the lead after the first pit stops and was able rapidly to extend his advantage while Vettel was held up behind Trulli.

The Italian and the German were nose-to-tail, with Hamilton right behind them, until the McLaren and the Toyota made their second and final stops on lap 37.

That released Vettel, who had a 10.5-second lead over Button when the Brawn emerged from its pit stop.

With only three laps before his own stop, Vettel had nowhere near enough time to try to erode Button's advantage.

He did, though, make up enough ground to emerge ahead of Trulli.

"This is a good point for the team," said Vettel. "I was very surprised when Lewis [Hamilton] came up beside me on the first lap and later on I just did not have the tyres to attack and do any better."

Button cruised to a comfortable victory - extending his championship lead to 12 points, while Vettel fought off a challenge from Trulli in the closing laps.

"This was a tough race this weekend, we haven't had the pace advantage we did have - other teams have caught up with or even overtaken us," said Button after the race.

Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli

Bahrain GP - drivers' news conference

"The first lap was so important today because I knew Vettel was going long - but I made it work and I was up to third by the end of that lap so I was delighted."

Toyota had chosen a different tyre strategy from the other leading teams.

They chose to get the slower 'medium' tyres out of the way in their middle stint and fit the faster 'super-soft' tyres for the final part of the race, as they were not sure if the softer tyres would last.

The others all chose to save the 'medium' tyres until the final stint, and McLaren in particular proved that - for the overall race strategy - it worked out to be a better ploy.

As such, though Trulli's Toyota running on 'softs' meant he was faster than Vettel in the final 16 laps of the race and had the Italian right behind his rival, he could not pass the Red Bulls's Chinese GP winner who managed to hang on for second place.

"I am a little bit disappointed because I was waiting for the first win for Toyota," he said.

"Unfortunately at the start I had an oil spillage which cost me the position from then on it was a hard race I was following my team-mate I was going longer.

"We did a very long second stint on hard tyres, I was trying to fight and actually it was a really hard fight.

"I wasn't extremely quick but I was competitive on hard tyres - then eventually Sebastian took the position after my last stop - then he was on hards and I was on soft, and I was pushing him. I was quicker but there was no way to overtake him."

Hamilton followed them home in fourth, slipping backwards in the closing stages on his 'medium' tyres.

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"I am delighted with fourth," said Hamilton. "Considering we started fifth we moved up one place, we had a great start.

"But Red Bull, the Toyotas and Brawn are just so fast in the fast corners, I can't keep up with them. We have a lot of work to do.

"It was a long race, it's very hot in this heat. But bit by bit I'm learning more and I'm able to give the team a little bit more direction."

Barrichello was fifth, a three-stop strategy not working out for Button's team-mate, ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, Glock and Fernando Alonso's Renault.

Toyota's tyre strategy meant that Raikkonen also had his hands full in the closing laps fighting off Glock.

But he used his Kers power-boost button to good effect to keep the German behind and score Ferrari's first points of the year.



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see also
Button expects close title battle
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton considered quitting F1
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix as it happened
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix photos
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Trulli on pole as Toyota dominate
25 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Sutil block a 'disaster' for Webber
25 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain GP qualifying as it happened
25 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Rosberg quickest as Alonso shines
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Raikkonen rues Ferrari slowness
23 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain F1 doctor was suspended
23 Apr 09 |  Middle East
Alonso maintains title ambitions
22 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Buoyant Vettel eyes more F1 glory
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1


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