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Martin Brundle column

Jenson Button celebrates winning in Spain

Spanish Grand Prix in 90 seconds

Martin Brundle
By Martin Brundle
BBC Formula 1 broadcaster

I can understand why Rubens Barrichello was confused and disappointed at the end of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

After finishing second and climbing out of his car, the Brazilian met his Brawn team-mate Jenson Button in the pre podium room, and turning to the race winner he said: "I don't know how I lost the race."

It was a surprising outcome given how the race had started, with Barrichello bursting into the lead following a great start from third on the grid.

There's no doubt about it, Barrichello will be asking the team why they moved Button onto a two-stop strategy and left him on three.

The two Brawn drivers were nip and tuck for most of the race so he'll want to know at which point they realised and decided it was right to switch Button.

Both drivers told me again after the race that three stops were theoretically faster. But two stops comfortably won the race.

Jenson Button

Button delighted strategy paid off

Rubens lost the race because instead of closing the gap on his team-mate when he went out on his third set of soft tyres and relatively low fuel, he found himself 13 seconds adrift.

He just didn't have the raw pace. Something was not working for him; maybe the tyres had taken some punishment in qualifying or they just didn't have the right handling balance or pressures. Either way, it ended up costing him the race.

Meanwhile, on heavier fuel, Button - like ultimate third-place man Mark Webber - was flying along and while he was not absolutely the quickest on the track at the time, was performing remarkably well in that phase.

Finally, Button was peerless on the harder tyres towards the end of the race, cementing his fourth victory of the year.

People will now be wondering whether Brawn are favouring Button over Barrichello.

I don't think the team have made a clear decision to treat Button as their number one driver but it may be a subconscious one.

Walk a mile in Ross Brawn's shoes. As team principal who would you think is most likely to deliver the goods all year at any track, rain or shine?

Webber told me he was thinking: 'Come on, Fernando, we've got to brake soon otherwise we won't make it'

Martin Brundle

Who would you want to be your new world champion leading your team forward into a new era?

Who is the younger driver with the best future ahead of him?

Don't get me wrong, Barrichello is more than capable of beating Button in qualifying or races.

But in terms of numbers, Button is seven years younger than Barrichello and, more importantly, he's now 14 points ahead of him at the top of the 2009 driver standings.

At this stage, Ross Brawn probably isn't too fussed about which of his drivers wins Grands Prix as long as someone does.

I don't think Brawn intended to put Barrichello on the second step of the podium behind Button but I would bet they're not too disappointed about it either.

Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso

Highlights - Webber holds off Alonso

In the BBC TV's red-button forum after the race, Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey said his cars were a match for the Brawns and the team reckon they had enough pace to win the race.

That will have to remain speculation but I do suspect that it would have been a very close battle between this season's main protagonists.

As it was, Ferrari messed things up for Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel got caught up behind the fast-starting Kers-assisted Felipe Massa and was then slowed down by the Ferrari's lack of ultimate pace.

Vettel was very frustrated after the race having been staring at the back wing of the Ferrari for 63 laps, and apparently felt the team should have navigated him past Massa in the pitstops.

The German's team-mate Mark Webber rescued third place on the podium with an impressive long second stint and aggressive driving in Barcelona.

We saw a lot of bravery on track and Webber was right among it.

Sebastian Vettel

We could have fought the Brawns - Vettel

Renault's home favourite Fernando Alonso overtook the Australian's Red Bull on the restart once the safety car had retreated at the start of lap six.

But Webber showed supreme skill to come immediately back at Alonso and retake what was then fifth place.

I was talking to Webber about it after the race and he told me he was thinking at that moment: "Come on, Fernando, we've got to brake soon otherwise we won't make it." He had to brake after the Renault to make it work.

It was impressive, especially as he arrived into Turn One on the tighter and dirty inside line.

Ferrari were dicing with danger yet again in Barcelona and are still making fundamental mistakes.

Apparently the reason they didn't fill Massa with enough fuel at his second stop was because of fuel-rig problems and that cost them fourth and ultimately fifth place. They might well have been too hasty in trying to get him out in front of Vettel, who pitted at the same time.

This came after the team failed to get Kimi Raikkonen through the first stage of qualifying and during the race itself unreliability put him out of the race.

JAKE HUMPHREY BLOG
Jake Humphrey
BBC F1 presenter

The only thing that is saving the Italian marque's blushes is that they have developed their car enough to become the third fastest team on the track this weekend.

The next race on the streets of Monaco provides all sorts of different set-up and strategy challenges; Monte Carlo.

The first priority for the Red Bulls and the Brawns will be to get through qualifying and Saturday will be manic in Monaco.

Most teams will arrive with yet further car updates, too.

The race itself could well be decided on critical grid position and everything really will be to play for when we rejoin the F1 circus in just under two weeks' time.


Martin Brundle was talking to BBC Sport's Sarah Holt.



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see also
Barrichello quit threat to Brawn
11 May 09 |  Formula 1
Button cautious on F1 title hopes
10 May 09 |  Formula 1
Red Bull plan upgrade for Monaco
10 May 09 |  Formula 1
Button wins as Brawn GP dominate
10 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 launches racism investigation
10 May 09 |  Formula 1


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