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Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 15:11 UK

European GP as it happened



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By Sam Lyon

1510: That's it from us, then, but don't forget to watch the F1 forum on the red button and on this website (UK users only) for all the post-race chat, interviews and analysis. Next up is Spa - with Brawn apparently rejuvanated, the McLarens and Ferrari firmly back in the mix, and with the Red Bulls with a point to prove. Do. Not. Miss. It.

Lewis Hamilton on BBC One: "We win together and we lose together. We had a tremendous effort [just] to get us here. So we cannot at all take second pace for granted. We are disappointed not to get the win because we have had extraordinary pace in the last two races. But these things happen. I've had so many races with this team and this has very rarely happened. They deserve a pat on the back and, regardless, we need to catch these guys [Brawn] up because there are genuinely a bit quicker than us."

Rubens Barrichello on BBC One: "It's been a fantastic weekend, one that I will never forget. Especially because after five years, not that you forget how to do it, but it's tough. Although you are pushing like hell, there are some things that go through your mind and you know you can't commit any mistakes. But thet car has been perfect and I want to thank the team for that."

Jenson Button on BBC One: "It seems like the people behind me are jockeying for position and sooner or later they will start closing the gap unless I do something about it. That is something I must address at Spa next time out. But well done to Rubens, he did a great job."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "Oh dear I got that all wrong then haha! Big smiles from me though to see Rubens finally get the win he deserves, with Lewis taking second."

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From BulletMonkey on 606: "This is one of the weirdest and most wide-open seasons in recent memory."

1454: A defiant face on Martin Whitmarsh below, then, but an argument that is met with scepticism by Eddie Jordan, who calls the error "catastrophic". Ross Brawn, meanwhile, greets Rubens Barrichello's fantastic victory... by asking Jake Humphrey for the cricket score! He does, however, go on to describe the win as possible "the best yet" of the Brazilian's career, while lamenting Jenson Button not being more aggressive in the middle sector.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh on BBC One: "We weren't as quick in the race as we should've been. We needed to open up a bigger lead than we did today, we pushed it to the absolute limit, but had to make a late call on that second stop to get Lewis Hamilton in and that pit-stop cost us, maybe, a couple of seconds. It was an operational error, yes, that didn't cost us victory, we didn't have the race pace."

1450: That victory puts Rubens Barrichello right back in the drivers' race, too, the Brazilian now second in the standings, 18 points behind championship leader Jenson Button. Mark Webber is 20.5 points behind the Briton thanks to the Brawn's seventh-placed finish.

BBC One F1 pundit Martin Brundle: "Three different teams on the podium - a good indicator of just how competitive this season is proving."

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From VillaFour on 606: "Excellent strategy by the Brawn team and an excellent drive by Reubans. Just disappointed we didn't get to see a proper duel between him and Lewis for the win. That pit stop cost Lewis huge."

1441: Rubens Barrichello is overcome - the Brazilian sobbing over the team radio as he soaks up his first Grand Prix victory for nearly five years. A hugely impressive race from him, and a perfect strategy from Brawn GP. Lewis Hamilton might be rueing that horrid final stop, but to be honest I'm not sure he will have had the pace in that final stint even if it had gone to plan?

1440: A perfect 10 for Rubens Barrichello, then - how long he has waited for that victory - and he is followed closely over the line by Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen cruises home for an impressive third, with Heikki Kovalainen holding off Nico Rosberg for fourth. Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Robert Kubica complete the points.


Lap 56: Nico Rosberg continues to press Heikki Kovalainen - he is one second off the fourth-placed McLaren - but I'm not sure there's time for him to overtake the Finn. It looks like the sting in this race has been drawn...

Lap 55: Rubens Barrichello's lead over Lewis Hamilton is down to 4.7 seconds now - but in reality he is cruising to victory.

Lap 54: The race for fourth looks like the closest of the front-runners, and it's potential rivals for the second 2010 McLaren seat Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen battling it out. The former is 1.9 seconds off the current McLaren incumbent but taking 0.3 seconds off that gap a lap. Jenson Button looks to have settled for seventh as he eases off, 3.7 seconds behind Fernando Alonso.

Lap 51: Rubens Barrichello is warned that Lewis Hamilton is stepping up the pace - "ease forward a touch Rubens, keep an eye on him", he is told. The lead is now 5.4 seconds.

Lap 50: A personal best lap from Lewis Hamilton of 1:39.227 to reduce the gap to Rubens Barrichello to 5.9 seconds - but the Brazilian is enjoying a Sunday afternoon drive more comfortable than a pair of Christmas slippers out in front and looks firmly on course for his first win since China 2004. Jenson Button now just 3.8 seconds behind Fernando Alonso - does he have the time and the laps to overtake the home favourite?

Lap 48: Lewis Hamilton must be praying for an error or that Rubens Barrichello over-cooks his tyres or something as the race enters the business stages, with the Brazilian's lead still over six seconds from the world champion. Jenson Button, meanwhile, is far and away the fastest man out on the track right now, and how valuable would another place or two prove with Red Bull looking unlikely to get anything out of this race? Mark Webber is still ninth, 4.7 seconds off BMW's Robert Kubica, who is lapping marginally faster than the Australian right now.

Lap 46: Is Lewis Hamilton starting to make a move? He takes 0.296 out of Rubens Barrichello's lead with an excellent lap - he'll need to maintain that from here on in, though, with the gap just under 6.5 seconds. Jenson Button, meanwhile, sets the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:38.874 and the super-softs look custom-made for him right now - he has seven seconds to make up on Renault's Fernando Alonso in sixth.

Lap 45: Lewis Hamilton yet to make a push at Rubens Barrichello's lead, both lapping in the 1:40s. Mark Webber, by the way, was held up by traffic on his in-lap just now, explaining why he returned to the track behind Jenson Button and Robert Kubica. The Australian is currently running outside the points in ninth, 2.8 seconds off the Pole in eighth. A mention for Kimi Raikkonen, who is holding on to a good third ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen as it stands.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live F1 pundit Anthony Davidson: "You haven't won the race yet Rubens Barrichello… There's a very fired-up Lewis Hamilton playing catching behind you and don't forget he's got Kers."

Lap 43: With Nico Rosberg running in second at the moment, but with a stop to make, Lewis Hamilton's gap to race leader Rubens Barrichello is 6.4 seconds and he is lapping 0.4 seconds a lap slower than the Brawn GP too. Mark Webber pits, it's 8.1 seconds, and he'll finish the race on the super-softs - he emerges behind Jenson Button and Robert Kubica, though. Not great.

Lap 41: Championship leader Jenson Button comes in now from eighth, as does Fernando Alonso from fourth. Red Bull's Mark Webber is up to sixth now, but he has another stop to make.

Lap 40: Rubens Barrichello comes in - and it's a lightning stop of under seven seconds. The Brawn GP, who had a 22.8 seconds lead before the pit, returns to the field way in front of Lewis Hamilton. Surely the Brazilian has enough pace to last out in front til the end? Can Hamilton respond? The Briton is reassured he has the whole stint to make up the four-second gap to the leader, who is on the option tyres which have not really lit Brawn's fires this weekend.

Lap 38: It was a "late call" by McLaren to bring out the tyres, according to BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz - an operational error that might have cost Lewis Hamilton victory, here. Kazuki Nakajima, meanwhile, loses his left-rear tyre to a massive puncture and he is crawling back to the pits leaving a lot of debris on the track.

Lap 37: Lewis Hamilton comes in - and it's hopeless! The pit crew don't appear to be ready with the tyres and it's a near-14 second stop. Lewis's father Anthony looks like someone has just wiped marmite on his top lip - he is not a happy bunny. Rubens Barrichello responds with the fastest lap of the race - a 1:39.071 and that might just be the Brazilian's race. Further back, Luca "my driving really is Bad"-oer spins off at Turn Two and returns in 18th. The proverbial nightmare.

Lap 35: Lewis Hamilton responds with a 1:39.4 lap of his own and, as it stands, that might just be enough to hold off Rubens Barrichello's challenge. Red Bull, who obviously watch BBC One and/or read this commentary (I'm guessing both... ahem) tell Mark Webber what I just told you - that Button has been told to have a go at the Australian given half a chance. Glad to be of service, lads.

Lap 34: Lewis Hamilton's lead over Rubens Barrichello continues to float around the four second mark, which McLaren believe is enough. That said, Barrichello has just posted the fastest lap of the race so far. Jenson Button is now just 1.6 seconds off Mark Webber and has been told to "have a go" at the Australian if he can. Ferrari's Luca Badoer, meanwhile, has been given a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line after exiting the pit lane on his last stop - on the pit wall, Michael Schumacher had that "ooh - shouldn't have done that" look on his face when that happened.

Lap 32: Giancarlo Fisichella finally pits, releasing Jenson Button to pressurise Red Bull's Mark Webber in seventh. The Briton is 2.5 seconds off the Australian, and lapping 0.4 seconds faster. Rubens Barrichello is told by his team that he has eight laps to cut his gap behind Lewis Hamilton to two seconds from 4.3 second. That will not be easy, with the Briton's pace looking good again.

Sebastian Vettel on BBC One: "What happened? Too much. Too many issues. First stop, we did not put fuel in the car. Then the race was lost. After that we had an engine failure, or it was exhaust [problems]. I will fight for the championship 'til the last breath but days like this… not finishing the race is not a good thing."

Lap 29: Punch and counter punch between Lewis Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello, with the pair exchanging fastest laps. Hamilton's lead remains 4.1 seconds.

Lap 28: Mild disquiet in the McLaren camp, with Lewis Hamilton struggling to shake Rubens Barrichello with the Brazilian lapping around 0.2 seconds a lap faster than the Briton. However, BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz reports that McLaren still believe lap times in the 1:39s - Lewis Hamilton's pace right now - should be just enough to keep him ahead of Barrichello later on.

Lap 27: Let's have a look further down the field, then, with Mark Webber looking to put pressure on home favourite Fernando Alonso in seventh - the Australian's Red Bull is 3.7 seconds off the Renault. Just four seconds separate Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button, Kazuki Nakajima, Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil in positions eight to 12.

Lap 25: This is not quite working out for Lewis Hamilton, whose lead over Rubens Barrichello is only 3.2 seconds now after a poor lap time yields 0.4 seconds to the Brazilian. The Brawn GP is fuelled around five laps longer than the Briton, we believe, meaning McLaren probably have some magic to conjure if they're to keep Hamilton out in front later in this race.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live F1 pundit Anthony Davidson: "I would say right there, that's Sebastian Vettel's chances of winning the championship gone."

Lap 24: Oh deary me. Big problems for Sebastian Vettel - who only took on a brand new engine on Saturday - as he has to pull up with yet another mechanical failure. If that's another engine problem, the German could be down to just one new engine left for the final six races. Absolute heartbreak.

Lap 23: Lewis Hamilton is not happy with the temperature of his brakes and he is advised to cool them down using the aerodynamics of his rear - shouldn't be too much of a problem. His McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen is now eight seconds off the lead, 4.6 off Rubens Barrichello, with Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso fairly evenly spaced at four-second intervals behind.

Lap 21: Lewis Hamilton, on options, leads Rubens Barrichello by 3.6 seconds - but Brawn GP are happy with their driver's pace and they believe he can eat away at the McLaren's advantage. Something like 20 seconds cover the top eight drivers - I'd say there's a lot more grand prix racing to come yet, folks.

Lap 19: The news is not so great for Rubens Barrichello's Brawn team-mate Jenson Button, though, with the championship leader behind Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella - who we think is fuelled for another 10 or so laps. Ouch.

Lap 19: Rubens Barrichello comes in - his pit is nine seconds - and it works out beautifully, the Brazilian returning just behind Lewis Hamilton but ahead of the Briton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. This race is on.

Lap 18: Rubens Barrichello really is putting his foot down now, lapping in 1:39.427 and his lead over Lewis Hamilton is just over 15 seconds. In comes Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button too, the Finn returning in eighth and the latter in 11th.

Lap 16: Heikki Kovalainen is the next McLaren in and this is Rubens Barrichello's time - the Brazilian absolutely has to build a lead now. Vettel does indeed return to the pits, but he is kept on a two-stop strategy and that may just have put paid to any hopes he had of a points finish let alone a podium.

Lap 15: In comes Lewis Hamilton and he rejoins in sixth behind Fernando Alonso Sebastian Vettel also comes in - but he suffers a huge problem as his fuel pump fails to work - he'll have to come back in in a lap's time. Disaster. At the back, Sebastian Buemi is lapped, with Timo Glock, Romain Grosjean, Luca Badoer and Jaime Alguesuari all struggling.

Lap 14: Lewis Hamilton building towards a pit-stop here as he sets the fastest lap of the race - a 1:39.455. Rubens Barrichello is told by his Brawn GP engineers to prepare for a push when Heikki Kovalainen gets out of the way - they believe he can put his foot down once out of the Finn's dirty air, so this race might not be as cut and dried as it appears at the moment.

Lap 13: Lewis Hamilton sets the fastest time out of anyone for the first sector and he is lapping around 0.5 seconds faster than anyone else. That includes Heikki Kovalainen, who is threatening to ruin Rubens Barrichello's strategy by hanging back off his McLaren team-mate. Whether that is tactics or just the true pace of his car is unclear - either way, the Brawn GPs are not on pace at the moment. Every single driver is nursing their tyres, by the way.

Lap 11: Rubens Barrichello really struggling to match the pace of the McLarens out there, and he is already eight seconds off race leader Lewis Hamilton. The Briton will want that gap to grow even further, though, if he is to negate the Brawn's advantage of running longer.

Lap nine: Jenson Button continues to struggle back in ninth, and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica is piling the pressure on now, the Pole just 0.8 seconds behind the Championship leader. Lewis Hamilton is still stretching his lead at the front. Meanwhile, Renault's Romain Grosjean avoids the wall by the matter of a cat's whisker after spinning out with a car not even in earshot. Oops.

Lap seven: Lewis Hamilton leads up front by four seconds from McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who in turn is nearly two seconds ahead of Rubens Barrichello. There's a suspicion that McLaren might have asked the Finn to back into Barrichello to slow the Brazilian up with Hamilton due to pit four laps later.

Lap six: Mark Webber is ahead of Jenson Button, now - not sure if that was an overtake or because of the Briton's earlier chicane-cut... oh, no, word comes through that Button did indeed yield his position so the championship leader is now back in ninth, behind his closest rival, and with a lot of work to do.

Lap four: Mark Webber, running in ninth, is not a happy bunny - he tells his Red Bull team that Jenson Button has pulled ahead of him courtesy of cutting the chicane - that might have to be looked at. At the front, Lewis Hamilton is flying, having set the fastest lap on consecutive circuits. He is due to pit on lap 15.

Lap three: Sebastian Buemi, by the way, lost his front wing in that melee from the off and he has already pitted for a replacement. He is at the back of the pack.

Lap two: Kimi Raikkonen is crawling all over the back of Rubens Barrichello, who absolutely has to stay on Heikki Kovalainen's tail in second if his later pit-stop strategy is to pay dividends. Apologies, Jenson Button is eighth, not ninth, but he is already 1.5 seconds off Fernando Alonso, who is only a lap lighter on fuel than the Briton, and 7.5 seconds off Hamilton up front.

Lap one: Absolute shocker from Jenson Button! The Brawn GP driver is swamped at Turn One and he drops way back in the field. Complete opposite for Kimi Raikkonen, who storms up from sixth on the grid to fourth, with Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Rubens Barrichello holding position. Button is down to ninth after going wide again late in the lap - Luca Badoer is up six places off the grid! The Italian Ferrari replacement might just be making a point here.

1303: We are go go go...

1259: The drivers are out and about on their installation lap so, lest we forget, a reminder that Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen start from pole, with Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso following behind. Rarely, the start might not be all-important. Keep your eyes peeled.

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From friendlyirishmonkey on 606: "If McLaren is back in front here and in Spa, then the season is over, Button has won. Red Bull need to be winning and other teams depriving Button of points for anyone to challenge him. Red Bull's best hope is for someone to take Button out."

1253: Ross Brawn on his final thoughts ahead of the race: "My thoughts? Just tyres. Making the tyres last. The start will be what it is, but after that it's all about the tyres. Barrichello has to be within a few seconds of the McLaren front-runners. We'll then try and pick it up after the first pit stop."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Valencia: "There's a lot of talk this weekend about Valencia being perhaps the hottest race of the year, even hotter than Bahrain. It's not - it was 39C there and it's only low 30s in Spain. But the humidity is much higher, and there is a lot of asphalt here radiating the heat out at you, so it does feel just as hot. Certainly I have been sweating buckets."

1250: Another sensational grid-walk from Martin 'The Legend' Brundle then, not least when he barged past the Sky interviewer to grab a word with Vettel. Brundle's name struck firmly off that young lady's Christmas card list and no mistake. We're 10 minutes from the start and it would appear most drivers are off-track escaping the Valencia heat right now. There's more sweat out there than in a boxer's steam-room at the moment.

1247: Sebastian Vettel, who if he were any more relaxed would be horizontal with a daiquiri in hand, tells BBC One: "It's going to be a long race. We can only find out our true pace this afternoon. The most important other people are Jenson, Rubens and Mark in terms of the championship." His Red Bull team boss Christian Horner adds: "We think the option tyres are a bit marginal. It's going to be an interesting afternoon and we'll possibly get a pace car at some point."

1244: Rubens Barrichello on the track: "I've had too many thoughts in the past about Michael (Schumacher) and this and that, so now I'm thinking about me. Of course, I want (Brawn team-mate) Jenson (Button) to do well, but I'd love to win the race today and I think it's my best chance."

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From RKW - Heart and Pole on 606: "Hopefully Robert Kubica will pick up some points today. I can't see Button finishing in the top five places."

1240: Jenson Button, who starts from fifth today, has been talking to BBC about McLaren's improvement as well, saying: "At times I think it has helped us - like in Hungary - because it meant Red Bull couldn't close the gap on us too much. However, when we're quick, it hurts us because they could be preventing us getting valuable wins. Either way, I think it will be very competitive between now and the end of the season between us, McLaren and Red Bull."

1236: Off the track, a lot of chat this weekend has surrounded driver movements in 2010. Fernando Alonso's link with a move to Ferrari is hotter than an F1 driver's pants, while Heikki Kovalainen's seat at McLaren has appeared about as secure as a banker's bonus. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has moved to downplay the latter, though, saying: "Heikki should be secure [at McLaren for next season] if he carries yesterday's pace into today's race. As a team, we have two really hungry young drivers. Let's hope they get through the first corner safely today."

Text in your views on 81111
From Zoe, Birmingham, via text on 81111: "Sam. Snacks. Cold beverages. Chocolate. Nervous twitching helping with tab-switching on PC. What a day. Lewis. Ashes. Footy. Bliss."

Get involved on 606
From Pistols_drawn on 606: "Hamilton is arguably the most talented driver in F1, has millions stashed in the bank and a beautiful world famous girlfriend. BUT... he is starting to develop a massively thinning barnet! He is human after all."

1228: Quality TV on BBC One, with Jake, Eddie Jordan, David Coulthard et al assessing McLaren's from-nothing return to the front of the grid. Lewis Hamilton is cautiously optimistic, telling the boys: "I'm on the clean side of grid, so hopefully I'll have a better start than those on left. It's a drag race with Heikki down to the corner and he generally has very good starts. We have quite a good relationship and understanding and we want to finish together as a team. It would be the first one-two we've had as team-mates."

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From 20ledge-kb on 606: "If Rubens starts well, stays ahead of Vettel, and keeps up with the McLarens 'til the first pit stops, the race is his. He has the pace and the strategy once Ross Brawn doesn't change it mid race."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Valencia: "Had an embarrassing moment this morning. I couldn't find the 'talk-back' head set that allows me to listen to the TV broadcast and chat between the presenters, and I accused my mates in the media centre, who have been known to like a practical joke, of stealing them for the comedy value of watching me get all wound up. Turns out I'd left them on a desk somewhere else in the room after going for a chat with another journalist. Doh."

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From cousinpaul on 606: "Jenson Button's race totally depends on whether Kimi Raikkonen gets past him at the start. If he doesn't then Button will be up for a podium easily."

1217: Confirmation, if any were needed, that Formula 1 drivers are glued to the Ashes too from AB below, then. Red Bull's Mark Webber, for one, had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp walking around the paddocks on Friday due to Australia's apparent plight - how fitting it would be if Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button could kick off a day of English success huh?

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson on Twitter: "Atmosphere strangely subdued. Paddock unusually empty and quiet for last hour before race."

From BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Ross "brains" Brawn reckons tyre management is key to the race, but making predictions on how the tyres will work around Valencia's marina is a bit complicated. The track has been improving day-by-day and will continue to do so during the race as more rubber goes down and the track cleans up. Bridgestone tyre guru Andy Stobart tells me that Friday's fastest time was 1:42.40 but the fastest time on Saturday during qualifying was 1:38.00, which shows just how much faster the street circuit is getting. The super-soft tyres are, in theory, faster, while the softs are more durable, but looking after all sets of tyres will be important here as on-track temperatures have already hit 46C."

1210: It's 'The Chain' time folks - if you can't see the video at the top of this page, UK users, give your F5 a cheeky push and the magic of moving pictures will appear. Cheers.

Get involved on 606
From flybri on 606: "Re - Sarah saying Heikki and Alonso emerged at the back from the pre-race meeting... Are you sure it was them at the back? Are you sure Luca Badoer wasn't two seconds behind?"

The sun is out
1200: BBC One coverage - which will be available on this website for UK users, as always - starts in 10 minutes so why not a little weather update? I'm sure you'll all join me in being absolutely flabbergasted that in Valencia it is... hot and sunny. That will be music to the ears of Brawn, not so much those who love a wet race. There's more chance of Lily Allen shirking an opportunity to be photographed at the cricket than there is of rain today, I'd wager.

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From FoxesofNuneaton on 606: "Valencia and Spa will decide where the Championship goes as it is a crucial time in the season - and yet we've had to wait one month for it to start over again! Please FIA, never again such a long break in F1!"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "Drivers just emerged from pre-race meeting. Heikki and Alonso chuckling at the back of pack."

BBC pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "Last night I was invited on to Vijay Mallya's boat, the Indian Empress, to attend a cocktail party for team bosses, drivers and friends of the Force India boss. The three-deck yacht is one of the largest privately-owned crafts in the world and the perfect venue for neutral talks. After Force India and Williams left the F1 teams' group Fota, tensions had risen. But now that a new Concorde Agreement has been signed, a soiree in the late evening sun was the perfect opportunity for everyone to talk business and pleasure in a stunning location.

"McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, Red Bull's Christian Horner and John Howett of Toyota turned up along with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil to relax after a long, hot day. Mallya, whose mother and son also joined in the party, laid on pink champagne, Kingfisher beer - of course - and sushi for his guests who gathered around a huge hot tub in the middle of the deck."

Get involved on 606
From SPLiverpoolFC on 606: "Hamilton will win this easily, but there'll be a battle for second between Kovalainen and Barrichello. Maybe there will be a safety car to mix it up, I hope it's a spectacle."

1145: As Ellomate737 points out below, Kimi Raikkonen may just be in a position to take a scalp or two in Valencia today. Very much unlike his new team-mate Luca Badoer. Unless a rival cunningly swapped the Italian's drive for a milk float before Friday practice, it's fair to say the veteran has not covered himself in glory so far this weekend. To think the Prancing Horse thought he would be an able replacement for the legend that is Michael Schumacher? The German, by the way, has vowed not to return to F1 now. Unlike David Coulthard, who used his BBC column to point out rather bluntly how much of a better job he could have done than Badoer. Fair point, too.

Get involved on 606
From Ellomate737 on 606: "I think If Kimi can get a good start, leapfrog a car or two, I think he's in with a shout of catching the McLarens."

Brawn team principal Ross Brawn: "We've had a good car all weekend but there's been a dilemma about how to handle the [power-boosted] Kers cars. So we decided to go a bit heavier on fuel to try and use that in the race to overcome the problem of Kers, as the McLarens and Ferraris will have a good run into the first corner. Rubens will be free to go for the win, he has a little bit more fuel on board than Jenson and has been making some good starts. Jenson will absolutely be looking to get back on the podium. The key to this race is how to make the tyres last."

From BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Valencia: "The McLarens might have locked out the front row, but Brawn's Rubens Barrichello was the out-and-out quickest man in qualifying. With his bigger fuel load, he is aiming to jump the McLarens at the first stops by putting in quicker laps when they come in for their stops. But McLaren are doubtful the softer tyres Barrichello will have to use will last for a 20-lap stint. If they don't, Barrichello will not have the pace he needs to get ahead."

BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey on Twitter: "In the GP2 race, almost every car has been involved in some kind of incident! Could be a better race than's hoping!"

1135: Make no mistake, this is a potentially pivotal race in the calendar this season. After a string of results that threatened to have Brawn GP limping towards the driver and constructors' championship like a worm with a limp, Ross's team look back on song with the Valencia heat wrapping its arms around their tyres like a loving mother's embrace. McLaren, too, are firing on all cylinders again - and with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen boasting the Kers boost from the front row, they will be looking for successive race wins following their victory in Hungary. Red Bull look a little like they may struggle for pace, but with Spa next up any points they get here may prove pivotal. And that's without mentioning Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso in his home race and the improving Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica. Like I say - potentially pivotal.

1130: I know, I get it. You don't know where to turn to next, what to keep an eye on, and at the expense of what. You've got England pressing for Ashes victory at The Oval, a cracking programme of Premier League football action, the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, the Solheim Cup, rugby league, tennis, rowing and the triathlon. And then you've got this, the European Grand Prix from Valencia. It is indeed a monster, monster day of sport. So here's what I suggest you do - stockpile your couch with snacks and soft drinks, set your laptop by your side, open about 10 windows on your internet browser, and "alt-tab" every minute of the entire day until your backside goes numb. Everyone's a winner. Bosh. Jubbly.

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see also
Barrichello snatches Valencia win
23 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
European Grand Prix photos
23 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
European GP qualifying as it happened
22 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
European GP practice as it happened
21 Aug 09 |  Formula 1

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