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Brilliant Button clinches title

Jenson Button

Highlights - Brazilian Grand Prix

By Chris Whyatt

Jenson Button sealed the drivers' championship with a sublime recovery drive at a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix won by Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Brawn's English driver started from 14th but executed a series of spectacular early overtaking moves before finishing the race fifth.

He was already set to clinch the crown when a late puncture dropped main title threat Rubens Barrichello to eighth.

Brawn still took the constructors' championship in their debut season.

Barrichello, who badly wanted to win on a circuit he was born in the shadow of, was running third before his unlucky puncture smoothed team-mate Button's path to the title he seemed destined for since his explosive start to the season.

That race, to me, was worthy of becoming world champion. The perfect way to do it

Jenson Button

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was second ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton while six drivers retired at Interlagos.

Red Bull's German Sebastian Vettel, who started just behind Button, finished fourth while Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi was a season-best seventh.

Button's maiden world title overshadowed the grand prix, but the race certainly delivered a fitting scene for a deserved success.

With the stands bubbling over with atmosphere, anticipation was sky-high at the Sao Paulo track where the world championship has now been decided in the past five years.

And the drama began as soon the race got under way.

Barrichello made a rapid start while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen jumped up to third using his energy-boost (Kers) button before suffering front-wing damage in a frenetic first lap.

But a contentious first-lap collision took out Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Force India's Adrian Sutil and led the pair to engage in a furious argument at the side of the track - both blaming the other. The crash also took out Renault's Fernando Alonso.

Mark Webber celebrates winning the Brazilian Grand Prix
In all the title excitement, Webber's superb win was almost overlooked

Trulli was later reprimanded and fined $10,000 (£6,140) for his behaviour following the incident.

Seconds later, in the pits, McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen pulled away with the fuel hose still attached to his car.

The leaking fuel immediately caught fire right in Raikkonen's face, although it quickly died away and both Finns were able to rejoin the race.

After the race, Kovalainen was handed a 25-second penalty, demoting him from ninth to 12th, and McLaren fined $50,000 for releasing him in an unsafe manner.

All the while 29-year-old Button had managed to steer clear, literally, of any trouble to jump up into ninth place after starting the race down in a potentially-disastrous position near the back of the pack.

Buoyed by another stroke of luck in a season in which he has worked so hard for it, he fearlessly set about improving his position with a superb display of bravery and surgeon-like precision once the safety car came in on lap six.

Charging Button first used persistence to take Romain Grosjean's Renault on the outside to move into eighth before eating up the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima to go seventh and then quickly setting about Toyota's Kamui Kobayashi.

The Japanese Formula 1 debutant defended strongly.

But Button, who had been losing time to Barrichello and Webber up front, used all his nous to dummy himself into a clever pass on lap 24.

Barrichello, meanwhile, had not quite managed to put enough space between himself and Australia's Webber and the Brazilian lost the lead during the first pit stops.

His hopes of victory faded immediately as he was overtaken by Vettel after rejoining and then got caught up in traffic.

Kimi Raikkonen

Replay - Chaotic start to Brazilian GP

Button continued his aggressive approach despite having moved into a decent position, and after pitting on lap 29 he managed to execute another overtaking manoeuvre as he crucially slipped past Buemi.

Nakajima careered off the track at the end of the back straight on lap 31 after Kobayashi moved over on him.

At this point Webber was clocking fastest laps for fun and team-mate Vettel was driving superbly well, both drivers pushing their impressive Red Bull cars to the limit.

Button - who won six of the first seven races of 2009 but has endured a tough second half of the season - met the test of nerve he faced until the finish head on and in style, unlocking a flood of emotion as he crossed the finish line.

"The last few races have been a bit stressful for me, especially qualifying," a jubilant Button told BBC Sport.

"But that race today, to me, was worthy of becoming world champion. Kobayashi is absolutely crazy, very aggressive. It was a great race, really enjoyable. That was the perfect way to do it."

On 89 points, Button heads to Abu Dhabi on 1 November with an unassailable lead in the championship while Vettel has leapfrogged Barrichello into second on 74 with the Brazilian now on 72.

MARK HUGHES COLUMN
Mark Hughes
BBC F1 commentary box producer

"It was a great car to drive all year," said Barrichello. "Jenson won it and deserved it but he won it in the first six or seven races.

"The second half of the season was mine... and I fought really hard. I'm pleased for Jenson as a friend and as a great champion."

Hamilton started the race from back in 17th but the man who now hands over his world crown to compatriot Button was typically aggressive as he made the most of the circumstances that he encountered to finish on the podium.

Stewards decided to take 'no further action' on the Sutil-Trulli incident, though Toyota's Italian was fined £6,000 for failing to leave the track as required and confronting Sutil in an aggressive manner.

Nakajima retired after his crash mid-way through, while Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld could not make the distance.



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see also
How good is Button?
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Button savours dream world title
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazil Grand Prix race results
18 Oct 09 |  Results
Brawn win title in debut F1 year
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
F1 salutes champion Button
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix as it happened
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix photos
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Button bid hit by qualifying flop
17 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Button fears title blow in Brazil
17 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazilian GP qualifying photos
17 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazil Grand Prix qualifying results
14 Sep 09 |  Results


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