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Silverstone 2009: Red Bull Triumph As Brawn Struggle

Silverstone 2009: Red Bull Triumph As Brawn Struggle

Sebastian Vettel has won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a dominant fashion, leading from the first lap and stamping his authority over team mate Mark Webber. Brawn it seemed were on their back foot although Rubens Barrichello managed to salvage a podium finish and Jenson Button eventually came home in sixth. Elsewhere in the field, we saw good races from Nico Rosberg and Giancarlo Fisichella as well as a great fight between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel’s win has been heralded by many paddock insiders as a turning point in this year’s championship, with many suggesting that Red Bull will now have the ability to start hauling in Brawn who have led all season. It is perhaps far too early to make such a claim, and Red Bull need to put in some more performances similar to today’s. But there is little question that the RB5 is a good car and worked very well on a day when Brawn suffered.

The start of the race proved interesting, as Sebastian Vettel got away from the line well. Although Barrichello did challenge the young German, it simply wasn’t enough and Vettel headed through Copse in the lead. Jenson Button also had a good start, leaping away from his grid slot only to be boxed in by those around him. As the Briton attempted to find some space on the tarmac, he eventually lost position.

Also romping away as the lights went out were the Ferraris. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa made up places and both went very wide around Copse, using all of the track and some more to ensure they made the most of the afternoon. The KERS, still being used by the Maranello team, was used to good effect on the run down to the first corner.

Early on in the race, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg enjoyed a little tussle, the pair fighting for points and honour; Toyota supply engines to the Williams team. Further back, Lewis Hamilton lost out to Fernando Alonso as he went for a pass but found himself trundling over the grass. Alonso cruised by as did Robert Kubica.

Nick Heidfeld had a good start, going from P15 to P11 on the opening lap. However, all was not well with the BMW pilot as the team ordered Heidfeld to pit for a new nose. The German driver refused however, and stayed out on the track.

Soon enough, a slow starting Fernando Alonso found himself behind the BMW and by L8 the Spaniard was getting frustrated at not being able to pass. The BMW was under-steering in the Becketts complex, which allowed Alonso to get on the gearbox of the Swiss-German car. However, Heidfeld had better traction out of the corners and was able to defend to the Renault.

By L10, Vettel had pulled out a 10s lead over Barrichello, who was clearly holding Mark Webber up. However, the Australian couldn’t pass and essentially, Webber’s race was ruined. Although Vettel was too far ahead to be caught, Webber did manage to leap frog Barrichello, but it wouldn’t happen until the pitstops. The Red Bull team managed to turn Webber around quickly and as he exited the pits on L20, he found himself ahead of the Brazilian.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso continued their battle, albeit for P14 towards the back of the pack. Hamilton had a couple of interesting moves, one on Alonso into copse, and another on Heidfeld who was caught out exiting the pits and going into the Becketts complex. It wasn’t all good for the Briton though, as a spin at Club hampered his progressed.

At the mid-point of the race, Heikki Kovalainen allowed his team mate to pass, which gave Sebastien Bourdais the opportunity to close in on the McLaren. Unfortunately for both, it ended in tears as the Scuderia Toro Rosso slammed into the back of the Finnish driver. Bourdais lost his front wing, Heikki suffered a rear-left puncture. Both drivers struggled back to the pitlane, and although they tried to contine, they would retire a couple of laps later. Naturally, Bourdais blamed Kovalainen and Kovalainen blamed Bourdais.

The only other significant battle was between Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and in the final few laps, Jenson Button. The trio were pounding around in P4, P5 and P6 respectively, and feeling the car was better, Button was hungry for more points. Although the Brawn driver closed in on the Williams, there was no way through and the positions remained as they completed the final lap.

It wasn’t a classic British Grand Prix, and in fact it was a little dull. However, it was an interesting race because we could see just how good the Red Bull RB5 is, and without being hampered by his team mate, Vettel was able to cruise to the win, his first in the dry. Sebastian’s win moves him to within 25 points of Button in the drivers championship and just 2 behind Rubens Barrichello. In the constructors, Brawn still maintain a very healthy lead over Red Bull, the pair separated by a mammoth 30.5 points.

A three week break is now upon us before the circus heads to the Nurburgring for the German Grand Prix. Undoubtedly, Button will be looking to return the favour to Vettel and spoil his home party. Although Brawn do have a huge collection of points, the championship isn’t over yet.

Oliver White

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