21… World Champions
Interlagos would not be hosting the season finale in 2009, nevertheless, Brawn GP were on the brink of the Constructor’s Championship all the same, needing only half a point even if Red Bull managed the maximum haul. Jenson Button was also in a position to claim the Driver’s title, although it wasn’t nearly such a formality with still Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel in the hunt. Button’s hopes were not helped when he found himself starting from 14th on the grid after a rain affected qualifying session. The only consolation was that Vettel would be starting behind him but having only just crept through to Q3 by one one-hundreth of a second, Barrichello had taken advantage of a drying track to claim pole.
The opening laps were chaotic: Heikki Kovalainen bumped into Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen tangled with Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli collided, picking up Fernando Alonso in the aftermath. Then the pitting Kovalainen left with the fuel hose still attached, spraying Raikkonen in fuel which briefly engulfed the Ferrari in a fireball before both cars continued the race. The result was that Barrichello still led although he was unable the shake off the heavier fuelled Mark Webber and Robert Kubica. However, Button had crept up to 9th which swiftly became 7th as he passed first Romain Grosjean, then Kuzuki Nakajima. Only debutant Kamui Kobayashi offered resistance although Button eventually leap frogged the Toyota.
The race turned on its head at the pit stops: Webber moved into first, while Barrichello slid back to third, Kubica separating them while Lewis Hamilton and Vettel had moved ahead of Button. Now, as it stood, Button would be World Champion, a position that was strengthened when Barrichello tried to defend against the charging Hamilton, picking up a puncture for his troubles and dropping him behind Button. Webber won his second race, Kubica had picked up a surprising second place for BMW and Hamilton had climbed from 17th to 3rd but the headlines would belong to Brawn and Jenson Button: World Champions…
“This season has been a rollercoaster ride from the elation of the wins at the start to the hard graft in the second half of the season which has seen us grind out the results needed to take the titles… It’s going to be one hell of a party tonight!” - Jenson Button
Day 21 of the advent calendar season review