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Button grabs fourth victory in five Grand Prix

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-12

Jenson Button and Brawn GP continue their domination of this season's start after the Brit won the Spanish Grand Prix. His team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello finished second. Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton was ninth.

AFP - World championship-leading Briton Jenson Button consolidated his position when he drove his Brawn GP car to a resounding victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
  
   The 29-year-old Englishman came home 13 seconds ahead of his Brawn GP team-mate veteran Brazilian Rubens Barrichello as the English team dominated the 66-laps race.
  
   On an afternoon complicated by an early multiple collision, the two Brawn drivers proved their team remains the outstanding force this season in the first European race of the year.
  
Australian Mark Webber finished third for Red Bull ahead of German Sebastian Vettel, his team-mate, with local hero and Spanish double world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso fifth for Renault.
  
   Brazilian Felipe Massa came home sixth for Ferrari after running out of fuel and losing both his pace and fourth position in the closing laps.
  
German Nick Heidfeld was seventh for BMW Sauber and compatriot Nico Rosberg was eighth for Williams.
  
   Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton of Britain was ninth and out of the points for the McLaren Mercedes team.
  
   Button's win was his fourth in five races this year and the fifth of his career, allowing him to extend his lead in the title race to 16 points.
  
"I can't believe how I lost that race," said Barrichello afterwards, his three-stop race strategy having cost him after he had led for long periods and looked destined for victory.
  
   Button, giving his team-mate a hug, said: "It's difficult because I am so excited to have won again, but I do feel for you."
  
   On a warmer day than the previous two, with the air temperature at 24 degrees and the track touching 42 degrees, there was a bigger crowd and more atmosphere, but not quite the fervour of previous ‘Alonso-mania years.'
  
   At the start, Barrichello made a storming getaway and took the lead ahead of Button with Massa passing Vettel behind them, thanks to use of the KERS system on his Ferrari.
  
But behind them, a multiple collision triggered by Jarno Trulli's Toyota spinning off and back on to the circuit removed four cars from the race and brought out the Safety Car.
  
   The accident happened at the first and second corners, the Elf turns, and involved both Toro Rossos of Swiss Sebastien Buemi and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais along with Trulli and German Adrian Sutil's Force India.
  
   It left mechanical carnage all over the track and it required five slow laps behind the Safety Car before the mess was cleared up and the racing resumed with a field of only 16 runners.
  
   As the dust settled, it was clear Raikkonen had made up ground with his KERS in the second Ferrari at the start and he was running 10th, having started 16th.
  
   But his struggles as the race unfolded suggested he had lost the use of the extra boost system before slowing and stopping on lap 18.
  
   By lap 10, the front two were continuing to set the pace and pulling clear, Barrichello and Button both clocking fastest laps ahead of Massa and Vettel, but it was equally clear that McLaren were in a battle to save some pride as Heikki Kovalainen retired after seven laps with gearbox problems.
  
   The Finn's team-mate Hamilton was working on staying out of trouble and in the race having insisted Saturday evening he still believed he could defend his title.
  
   The Brawns continued to pull away and by lap 13 had opened up a gap of 3.8 seconds to third-placed Massa, but Button was heard on the team radio complaining that his team-mate was not going fast enough at the front.
  
"Come on Rubens, you can go quicker than this," he was heard to say before clocking a fastest lap to stay 1.5 seconds behind in second place ahead of Massa, Vettel, Webber and Alonso. Hamilton is 12th.
  
   Button was the first of the leaders to pit after 18 laps as Raikkonen abandoned his hopes of repeating his 2008 win, his last victory in F1, and climbed from his stricken Ferrari.
  
   Alonso followed Button in for fuel and new tyres and was soon followed by the leader Barrichello.
  
Massa and Vettel also pitted, but Rosberg in his Williams stayed out and after 22 laps was running second between the two Brawns, allowing Barrichello to control the race from the front with a 2.6 seconds lead on the German and 6.9 on Button.
  
   Heidfeld and Hamilton appeared to be gambling without an early stop and were running sixth and seventh after 25 laps before Rosberg, finally, dived in to the pit lane.
  
   All this left Barrichello with a near-luxurious lead of 12.1 seconds by lap 28, Button second leading Massa by 3.2 seconds and Heidfeld and Hamilton in fifth and sixth.
  
   But Barrichello, on a suspected three-stop strategy, pitted for a second time, in 6.7 seconds, after 31 laps, when he was followed in by both Heidfeld and Hamilton.
  
   Barrichello rejoined in fourth, his early pace with a light fuel load traded in, and ran behind Button, leading, Massa and Vettel.
  
   As the race unfolded, it became more processional - and soporific - for the crowd and it was clear that there were many empty seats in the main grandstands opposite the pits.
  
   The battle between Massa and Vettel clearly worried the Ferrari boffins.
  
Massa's race engineer Briton Rob Smedley warned him that he faced running out of fuel if he was not prudent in the closing laps. "What am I supposed to do? I am defending my position," said Massa, on the team radio.

Date created : 2009-05-10

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