Strong race for Brawn GP, but no victory

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Brawn GP’s Jenson Button finished his World Championship year on a high today with a third-placed podium finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the new Yas Marina Circuit. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello came through a first corner impact to drive a composed race and bring his Brawn-Mercedes car home in fourth position.

Formula One’s first twilight race began at 1700 in daylight conditions before night fell and the floodlights came on around the circuit. Both Brawn GP drivers had good starts before Rubens made slight contact with Mark Webber going into turn one and damaged his front wing which allowed Jenson to pass whilst he struggled for downforce.

From there, Jenson and Rubens drove extremely well to secure third and fourth positions respectively on two-stop strategies. Jenson had a thrilling battle with Mark Webber over the final few laps for second place with several overtaking moves almost coming off on the final lap but the Australian managed to hold him off to the chequered flag.

After 17 races of the 2009 season, Brawn GP end the year as winners of the Constructors’ Championship with 172 points with Jenson winning his first Drivers’ Championship with 95 points and Rubens in third place with 77 points.

Jenson Button: “It was a fun race today and to be on the podium for the last race of the year is fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed driving here at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend and Abu Dhabi has done a fantastic job for its first Grand Prix. We expected the prime tyre to be the better tyre in the race but I was struggling for balance especially as the track temperatures started to fall and it became more difficult to get heat into the front tyres. The car felt great when we switched to the soft tyre for the final stint. It really felt transformed and suddenly I had a great front end and could carry more speed into the corners. The last few laps were really exciting and I was giving everything to take second place from Mark. I couldn’t quite make the moves stick and he’s a very difficult guy to overtake but it was a good clean fight and we were really on the edge. I’m a little bit disappointed not to get second but it’s still great to finish on the podium. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the team in Brackley and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines. It really has been a fantastic year and they should all be very proud of what we have achieved together. It’s nice to end the year on a high after what has been a very competitive and challenging season.”

Rubens Barrichello: “We had a pretty competitive race today. The start was quite exciting and I went to the inside at turn one but unfortunately I collided slightly with Mark and he took a chunk of my front wing with him. It lost me a lot of downforce initially which let Jenson past but I was able to live with the understeer so we decided not to change the nose and I just pushed as hard as possible. I was quicker than Jenson in the middle stint but it’s very difficult to overtake, even more so when it’s your team-mate in the same car, so there was nothing I could do to get past him. Still it was a competitive race throughout and a lot of fun so I have to be pleased with fourth position today. It’s truly been a great season and I have to thank the team for giving me a car that has been so competitive this year and the opportunity to return to winning ways again. We’ve had a great year together.”

Ross Brawn: “A strong race from both drivers today and another podium finish is a great way to round off what has been a very successful season for the team. Jenson and Rubens both drove extremely well with Jenson providing a fantastic last lap of racing to bring the 2009 Formula One season to its conclusion. Abu Dhabi has provided a fantastic venue for the final race of the season and the sport can be very proud to have such a stunning facility on the calendar. 2009 really has been an incredible year for Brawn GP. To go through the trauma of the winter months and make it to the first race and then achieve eight Grand Prix victories and the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships in our first year is an outstanding achievement. I would like to thank all our staff here and at the factory in Brackley for their hard work and dedication this year and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth for the support that they have given us since the start of the year and the powerful and reliable engine that they have provided us with.”