Monday, May 11, 2009

Formula 1: Button does it again but Ferrari is catching up

The Circuit de Catalunya, site of Formula 1’s testing grounds, today gave British driver and pole sitter Jenson Button of Brawn GP his 4th win of the season out of 5 races in the recently concluded Spanish Grand Prix in Montmelo, a few miles north of Barcelona.

Button was followed by teammate 36-year old Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who initially showed brilliant driving when he overtook Button from P3 in the early stages of the race. But the Englishman’s strategy proved to be superior when the team decided to make 2 pitstops instead of 3. 3rd place went to Australian driver Mark Webber of Red Bull followed by teammate Sebastian Vettel in 5th. Home crowd favorite Spanish driver and double World Champion Fernando Alonso finished 5th just ahead of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa in 6th place. Nick Heidfeld of BMW and Nico Rosberg of Williams Toyota completed the championship points.

2008 Driver’s Champion Lewis Hamilton continued to battle McLaren woes as he finished 9th while Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari did not finish the race. Interestingly, the record lap and pole for this 18-year old track belong to Raikkonen and Massa respectively in their Ferraris.

This year’s championship race has the table turned upside down as superior teams last year like Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault now make up the back of the grid racing this 4.655-km stretch of track as Brawn (formerly Honda), Red Bull Renault and Toyota battle in front.

Ferrari, now showing flashes of brilliance when its F60s were installed with new aerodynamic designs and two-tier diffusers, seem to be the most improved of the group as Felipe Massa managed to move his car in the front grid for the first time this year in qualifying. Two or three races from now, expect the Prancing Horse to go neck and neck with frontrunners Brawn and Red Bull.

The race now moves on to the narrow streets of the small sovereign city-state of Monaco in South Western Europe, considered to be the “jewel of the Formula One crown”—the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Race day on May 24th.

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