Barrichello revives title hopes with win
Rubens Barrichello has grabbed his chance to win the European Grand Prix by showing the best pace and benefiting from the best race strategy of the field. Pole man Lewis Hamilton finishes second while Kimi Raikkonen claims his second consecutive podium for Ferrari.
Ahead of the start, the air temperature at Valencia is 31°C with the track rising to 47°C. Several commentators have spoken about situations alike at Bahrain.
Most drivers will start on the option tyre, the super-softs that were also present at Hungary and Monaco. Alonso meanwhile is starting on the prime tyre which is approximately 0.4s slower a lap but doesz not suffer as much from graining.
When the lights go out, Hamilton holds first position easily, ahead of his teammate and Barrichello. Raikkonen moved up to 4th thanks to his KERS system. Alonso meanwhile gained a place while Jenson Button is down to 8th place.
In the middle of the pack, several drivers battle closely for position, resulting in 3 pitstops for a new nose cone. Renault rookie Grosjean is the first, followed by Glock and Buemi. All three get their option tyres changed for primes.
Luca Badoer meanwhile made a good start but was the cause of Grosjean's broken front wing. He later that lap also spun off and is quickly up for a lonesome and boring race.
5 laps into the race, Button is further down the order as Webber is able to benefit from a slight mistake of the Briton. The championship leader is now out of the points and finds Robert Kubica right behind him.
By lap 10, Hamilton has pulled a gap of 5.7 seconds on his teammate, who on his behalf is 2 seconds ahead of Barrichello. The gaps behind the Brazilian are all fairly small, usually a few seconds between different cars. Kimi Raikkonen is 4th, Vettel 5th, Rosberg 6th, Alonso 7th and Webber 8th.
Interestingly, Jenson Button has by now lost 2 seconds on Webber. Still behind the Briton is Kubica, Heidfeld, both Force India cars, Nakajima and Trulli. Badoer is still 17th, the three drivers behind him have had to make an early stop after car damage in the first lap.
On lap 16, Hamilton makes his first stop, taking on another set of super-softs in 9.4s. Vettel and Kubica follow suit while Hamilton rejoins the track behind Alonso.
Kovalainen is in on lap 17, as well as Alonso and Vettel again as the team were unable to refuel his RB5 in his previous pitstop.
Barrichello has now taken over the lead and sets the quickest lap of the race with a clear track ahead of him. Button has meanwhile gained some speed and has caught up with Mark Webber. Things are suddenly looking much better again for the Briton now that Vettel has droped down to 16th place.
Raikkonen and Button make their stops on lap 20. Barrichello, Rosberg and Webber dive into the pitlane one lap later. Both Brawns have taken a new set of primes while Raikkonen is fitted with the super softs again.
22 laps into the race, Hamilton is now again in the lead, 3.4 seconds ahead of Barrichello. Kovalainen is a further 5 seconds down with Raikkonen 5s more.
On lap 24, Vettel is out with another Renault engine blown. He is able to stop at a fence opening, making it possible to remove the car from the track without requiring a safety car. Vettel was only using this Renault engine since Saturday morning and this event will certain not help Renault to convince Red Bull to keep using their engines next year.
On lap 29, Badoer is into the pitlane, with right behind him Grosjean. After their stops of equal length, the cars are side by side to exit the pitlane, but Grosjean takes the track first after putting the throttle down earlier than the Ferrari driver.
On top of that, Badoer is handed a penalty for crossing the white line at the pitlane exit. There was absolutely no reason to cross that line as by that time Grosjean was already ahead of him.
On lap 37, Hamilton is in for his final stop, taking on the prime tyres. The team was however not ready with all the tyres, requiring Hamilton to stand still for 13.4 seconds. Barrichello meanwhile is putting in a string of qualifying laps, hoping to show up in front of the McLaren after his own pitstop. The Brazilian said ahead of his race that this would be his chance for a race win.
In lap 39, Barrichello and Raikkonen are in. Barrichello is easily in the lead. The gap is approximately 4 seconds.
Nakajima on the other hand has had a punctured rear left tyre and eventually lost the tyre thread somewhere along the circuit before arriving in the pitlane.
In lap 43, Alonso is in the pits, as well as Button. The Briton was just behind Webber before he stopped.
2 laps later Buemi spins off the track with lots of brake dust coming off of his left front brake. It looks like his race is over.
After Webber also made his stop, Button has moved up to 7th place, ahead of Kubica and Webber. Red Bull is now virtually scoring zero points compared to 12 for Brawn GP.
Towards the end of the race, several drivers are upping their pace in an attempt to gain another few points. Lewis Hamilton for instance is pushing hard to put the pressure on Barrichello despite the gap still being 4s with only 4 laps to go.
Nico Rosberg is also going quickly and is closing on Kovalainen who is in 4th place. A mere two seconds are seperating the two men.. Finally, Jenson Button is in a similar situation as he is chasing Alonso down for 6th place.