Barrichello wins, Hamilton crashes in final lap
Brawn have added another 1-2 finish to their tally this year as Barrichello and Button jointly ran a faultless race and finished closely behind each other. Kimi Raikkonen is 3rd thanks to a last lap crash by Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton today starts from pole position, ahead of Adrian Sutil and Kimi Raikkonen, the only non-Mercedes powered car in the top 7. These three front qualifiers are the only ones on a two stop strategy. Heikki Kovalainen therefore has good cards on hand if he can stay close to the cars in front of him.
Jaime Alguersuari meanwhile will starts from the pitlane after the team chose to change some performance parts on his Toro Rosso car.
The track temperature is 38°C, ambient at 27°C. It will be interesting to see performance differences between the different tyre compounds. There does not appear to be a preferred tyre for the first stint. Hamilton is on prime while Sutil and Raikkonen are on the softer options.
When the lights went out, Hamilton easily kept his first position into the first corner, although Raikkonen had a better launch off his start position. The finn came out in second place, ahead of Adrian Sutil who chose the inside of the approach to the first corner.
Fernando Alonso who hoped to gain some places at the start had a little too much wheelspin off the mark and could only use it to make up the lost time.
Heikki Kovalainen did enjoy a reasonable start, but it were the first few laps that reuined his start of the race. The Finn has virtually no rear grip and quickly lost several places, ending up in 8th place after only 4 laps.
On lap 7, Kubica is ordered to pull into the pitlane for a new front wing. He has been driving with a loose front wing endplate since bumping off Mark Webber on the opening lap.
Two laps later, Hamilton has pulled a gap of 4.6s to Raikkonen, who on his behalf has one second on Adrian Sutil. The Briton really needs to pull a considerable gap, especially to both Brawns to gain the extra pitstop time on the track.
Hamilton pits on lap 15 and needs 7.8s to switch to the prime tyres. He rejoins the track ahead of Liuzzi and Alonso. Sutil is also in one lap later and rejoins ahead of Kovalainen who is behind Alonso. One lap later Raikkonen pits and mixes in between Liuzzi and Alonso.
In the meantime, Kubica and Alguersuari have retired in the pitlane while Nico Rosberg already completed 2 pitstops and is hopelessly in last position.
Liuzzi then is also out of the race as he comes to a halt in Variante Della Roggia. He suddenly lost drive during the approach and probably has a broken clutch or gearbox.
One lap later than estimated, Alonso pits on lap 27 and rejoins the track in 10th place, just ahead of Nakajima and with a clear track ahead of him. Kovalainen follows one lap later and comes out in between the two Toyota's in 12th place.
One further lap down, Button is the first of the Brawns to pit. He was 2 seconds behind his teammate who was leading until his pitstop one lap after Button. The difference between the two has grown a couple of seconds, now up to 4s with Button seemingly unable to keep up with Barrichello in the next few laps.
On lap 34, Hamilton makes his final stop and comes back on the track a few seconds behind Button. Rubens Barrichello is now the race leader with only 18 laps until the checkered flag.
Two laps later, Raikkonen and Sutil are in at the same time. Raikkonen stalled slightly while launching away, while Sutil went in a litle too optimistic and ran over one of the pitcrew guys, fortunately without any harm. They endured similar delays and therefore kept the same position.
4 laps later Sutil is again right behind the Ferrari ahead of him and is ordered to use the "overtake button" when he needs it. Obviously such a button has limited efficiency as engine revs has been limited to 18,000rpm.
With 8 laps to go, Hamilton is closing in on Button. The top three are now only 6 seconds away from each other. The race leader is actually the slowest of the three.
More in the back, the Toyota's are having fun with Nakajima and each other. It started at the first chicane when Trulli had a go on Nakajima with the Japanese not willing to give in. Nakajima cut the chicane and happily continued, while Trulli got in a position fight with Glock, running side by side until the first Lesmo where Trulli ran a little wide and lost several seconds to his teammate.
In the final lap, Hamilton caused surprise to everyone as he crashes off on the exit of the second lasmo. He gave up a certain third place but pushed too far in an attempt to challenge Button for second place.