F1: Spanish Grand Prix liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, May 10th, 2009

 
 

Jenson Button on pole. Sebastian Vettel on the front row looking to make up for his qualifying mistake and snatch the lead.

Rubens Barrichello on row two with something to prove after his unexpected trouncing by his team-mate yesterday. And Felipe Massa in a functioning, KERS-equipped Ferrari for more or less the first time this season.

Heavy showers are forecast in Barcelona this afternoon and it rained at the circuit overnight. No wonder the polesitter has predicted first-corner mayhem.

If the race is anything like as exciting as yesterday’s qualifying session, then we’re in for a cracker.

Button said after the nail-biting qualifying session that saw him snatch pole at the last possible moment: “If Felipe gets his start right it will make it a bit crazy going into the first corner. It could cause mayhem, particularly with one car coming so much faster and with a high-speed corner at turn one.

“It’s going to be all about keeping your nose clean. Ferrari have been competitive today. Felipe was within two tenths of Rubens in Q2. They are closing very, very quickly and I’m surprised. They are certainly ones to watch over the next two races.”

Meanwhile, while all that was going on, Toyota stated that it wouldn’t be competing in 2010 under the proposed rules. So plenty going on in the background as well as on the track – as usual.

We’ll be here following every minute with our regular liveblog. Stick with us – and don’t forget to keep hitting refresh to make sure you’re looking at the latest.

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Press conference: Button says “they switched me to a two-stop just to cover all our bases. I thought three-stop was the quicker strategy.”

Later Ross Brawn says they’d switched Button because a three-stopper might have trapped him behind Rosberg. Leaving Rubens on a three-stopper was supposed to win him the race, but he was slower than he ought to have been in one stint on the good tyres.

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Post-race: “A team effort, a real team effort” says Legard about Brawn GP’s race. Bet Rubens is sick of being on the sticky end of that sort of team effort, though.

Rubens and Jense compare notes as they sit and wait to go on the podium. Closest we can get to a transcript is “I don’t know how I lost the race, man” from Rubens, which gets the reply: “I didn’t know whether the strategy would work when they put me on the two-stop. I’m glad I won, but I feel for you.”

Lewis Hamilton, interviewed afterwards, is fatalistic. “What can I say, you know? What can I do? I drove my heart out as I always do, but that car… it just has no grip. ” He doesn’t answer a question about Jenson Button passing him and says he isn’t thinking about the prospect of his countryman taking his title.

He says the team is fantastic, the reliability is great, but he hasn’t been provided with a car that is good enough. “This is part of racing, you know, you have times like this.” He congratulates Button.

Coulthard says: he’s sending out mixed messages that just don’t make sense.

John Button pictured walking down the pitlane wearing his lucky outfit.

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Lap 66: Jenson Button starts his final lap. Alonso visible behind Massa and closing. Massa in real trouble and looking to lose fifth to Alonso. And Alonso is now right up behind him, hanging on the back of the Ferrari. He’s through and takes the place. Will Massa finish? What a terrible result for Ferrari. Jense comes through to win the race. Barrichello, Webber, Vettel, Alonso slated to come through in fifth, but who will get sixth? Massa has managed to hold the place, a mere 1.4 seconds ahead of Heidfeld. Rosberg takes the last point for Williams, leaving Hamilton out in the cold in ninth.

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Lap 65: Button laps Hamilton. Well, who would’a thought it, eh?

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Lap 64: Not only a Brawn GP one-two but a Red Bull three-four. What’s amazing is the way Toyota have fallen off. Can’t have done much for their motivation hearing that the team could be wound up at the end of the year. But Massa only has 3/4 of the fuel he needs to the end of the race…

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Lap 61: As you were, six laps left, now really a game to see if anyone has to blink before the end. Legard airing his current catchphrase: “Jenson Button… he’s out in front.” It’s starting to become a form of Chinese water torture.

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Lap 63: Button laps Kubica, Piquet and Nakajima at the end of the pit straight. And Vettel’s got past Massa – has he traded speed for the points he can pick up from fifth?

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Lap 60: Ted Kravitz reports that Massa’s woes were caused by another problem from that damned refuelling rig. We guess it’s been well-behaved for a while now…

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Lap 59: Also looking increasingly likely that we will have a British world champion – just not the one we were expecting. Glock is hassling Hamilton whose best hope of a point seems to lie in Massa’s denuded fuel tank.

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Lap 58: Despite a great move by Webber to get himself up into third ahead of Vettel, it is looking good for a Brawn one-two.

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Lap 57: Things looking serious for Massa on fuel. What the hell is wrong for Ferrari at the moment?

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Lap 55: Button, Barrichello, Webber, Massa, Vettel, Alonso, Heidfeld, Rosberg with Hamilton and Glock on their backs. Then Kubica, Nakajima, Piquet and Fisi as the only car to be lapped..

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Lap 54: Massa is being begged by Rob Smedley to save fuel or coast to a halt on the track. Alonso being reassured that by his engineers that he might be on for fourth if things go wrong for the people in front. Having said that, he is 20 seconds back, so things would have to go quite badly wrong.

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Lap 53: It’s shaping up to be Button’s race to no-one’s surprise, but the Red Bulls are looking very good and the two drivers are keen to take Massa and Barrichello respectively. Massa not looking good on his hard tyres, either.

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Lap 52: Legard: “Brawn has… absolutely no problems with reliability.” Shut up, man! Have you learned nothing from Murray Walker and James Allen?

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Lap 51: Button has a 7.1 second lead.

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Lap 50: Barrichello and Webber in the pits. Stop is 6.1 seconds. He’s got out in front of Massa and Webber does the same, coming out in third. Order is now Button, Barrichello, Webber, Massa, Vettel.

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Lap 49: Hamilton makes a six-second pitstop and rejoins on an empty track. Rosberg is now up on the back of the Massa/Vettel axis but then he pits. Order is therefore Barrichello, Webber, Button, Massa, Vettel. Rosberg gets away OK but Barrichello is now stuck in traffic caused by lapped cars. Barrichello has dived into the pits.

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Lap 48: Button pits from the lead for his last stop and a spell on those hard tyres. Webber moves up to second. Stop is 6.7 seconds and he rejoins in third. How far can Barrichello last on those soft tyres? McLaren mechanics are out.

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Lap 47: Button has a lead of just over 11 seconds over . Massa’s and Vettel’s hard tyres are costing something like two seconds a lap in a heavily-fuelled car. Both Barrichello and Button still have to use them, but Barrichello’s three-stopper means that he will spend least time on them. It’s all very finely-balanced – but Rubinho is still in this.

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Lap 46: Hamilton’s slower than almost every car running behind him – thanks to his wrecked tyres. But he’s getting no sympathy from his team, who are telling him in classic McLaren style to stick to the agreed strategy.

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Lap 45: Barrichello told that the cars ahead pitted much earlier than the team expected, and this is the time to push hard. Alonso pits and comes out side by side with Hamilton in a fight for eighth and ninth. Alonso takes the place and there’s the possibility of slight contact.

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Lap 44: Massa and Vettel revealed to be running on fumes, hence speed. This their last pitstop. They both come out behind Alonso with Massa in front. That’s fifth and sixth in absolute terms and they’re having to take their turn on hard tyres.

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Lap 43: Hamilton says his rear tyres are “finished”. Massa and Vettel have both dived into the pits.

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Lap 42: Button has a six-second lead over Massa and Vettel but they are both going faster than him. Looks like things coudl suddenly get rather interesting around the time of the final pitstops.

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Lap 40: Rubens Barrichello needs to put his foot down to beat his team-mate, by popular consent. Leaders all lapping within about one-tenth of the second. Nick Fry quizzed about team orders but he’s not going to say anything interesting, is he?

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Lap 39: This is all aimed at the pit stops now – who can take a fraction of a second off other people. Barrichello’s about 10 secs behind Button but James Allen reckons that he’s got a good tyre strategy that will keep him in contention.

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Lap 38: Order is Button, Massa, Vettel, Barrichello, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Nakajima, Hamilton, Glock, Kubica, Piquet and Fisichella.

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Lap 37: Brundle is speculating that team orders will prevail at Brawn GP to keep Button in the frame for the championship.

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Lap 36: Who says that Catalunya provides boring racing? It *clearly* isn’t true… Webber is said to be off Vettel’s pace because he’s heavier-fuelled. Nothing astonishing or newsworthy whatsoever, in other words…

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Lap 34: The half-way point. That’s all there really is to say at present.

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Lap 33: Behind the leaders, for the other points-paying places, are currently Webber, Alonso, Rosberg and Heidfeld.

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Lap 32: Hamilton and Heidfeld both stop and he comes out in 10th place where he is being hassled by Glock and Kubica. He’s not past Heidfeld this time round and is having trouble coming up to speed because he is heavily fuelled.

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Lap 31: Brawn mechanics are out – must be for Barrichello. And he dives into the pits for a long, long drive down pitlane. Button now leading. 6.7 sec stop and he comes out behind Vettel, in fourth place. Button, Massa, Vettel, Barrichello.

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Lap 30: Both Button and Massa lacking pace. Massa still holding up Vettel, but Vettel can’t get past.

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Lap 29: Barrichello is reportedly *not* building enough of a lead to hold his place in the pitstops.

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Lap 28: Barrichello’s lead now 11.3 secs. Vettel has been told to save fuel if he wants to get past the Ferrari.

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Lap 27: Order is Barrichello, Button, Massa, Vettel, Heidfeld, Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Fisi, Nakajima, Glock, Kubica, Piquet. Then Kubica takes Nakajima for a bit of interest at the back,

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Lap 26: Rosberg pits and comes out behind a Renault – we’d guess Alonso. Hamilton being told he can attain a points finish by taking the BMWs at the next stop. Barrichello is currently gaining up to a second a lap on Button, building up the lead he needs for that extra pitstop. He’s not going quietly…

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Lap 24: We learn that Jense is fuelled long and has to make one less stop than his team-mate. The tactics of Ross Brawn…

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Lap 23: Order is Barrichello, Rosberg, Button, Massa, Vettel with Rosberg yet to pit.

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Lap 21: Massa and Vettel pit together and come out together. Neat stops from both of them but Vettel doesn’t manage to take the place.

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Lap 20: Barrichello does a fast 6.3sec stop – how much fuel went in there – and gets out ahead of Rosberg in third. Crucially, he is ahead of his team-mate.

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Lap 19: Raikkonen withdraws after his car pulls to a halt. “He doesn’t want to walk back, does he,” says Brundle.

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Lap 18: Glock is the first to blink in the pitstops. And the Brawn mechanics are out – who is coming in? It’s Button, carrying the lighter fuel load into the race. Barrichello’s lead is 1.4 secs at the moment. Gosh, he left it a bit late to cut into the pit lane then. This is exactly as predicted when the safety car is accounted for. Alonso also coming in but Raikkonen coming to a halt at the side of the road. Button’s pitstop is 9.3 secs.

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Lap 17: Massa still backing up the two Red Bulls.

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Lap 16: Hamilton said to be fuelled longer than anyone else on the grid, leading to ruminations that he may be able to pick himself up a point or two. Other than that it’s all got a bit processional. Confirmation that Raikkonen’s KERS failed on the parade lap.

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Lap 15: Button has just done the new fastest lap of the race. Massa is gaining on the two Red Bulls but then the midfield is separated by just 2 seconds. Raikkonen tries to take Heidfeld but can’t, leading to speculation that his KERS isn’t working.

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Lap 14: Barrichello sticks in another fastest lap, Button 1.5 secs back, Massa 3.8 behind him.

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Lap 13: Seabass admits to hitting team-mate – but was it because Buemi braked a bit sharply thanks to the accident? Unfortunately a rear-end shunt is an absolute offence…

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Lap 12: Massa is backing up the two Red Bulls, to the advantage of the Brawns. Said to be heavy fuel load.

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Lap 11: And now for the calm after the storm as everyone concentrates on getting in fastest laps before the pitstop.

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Lap 9: Kovalainen is wheeled into his garage with fatal car problems. He must be wondering why he bothered to travel to Spain. Proves to be his gear selection from first practice come back to haunt him.

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Lap 8: Barrichello being told to put his foot down and get some distance on the field before his pitstop.

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Lap 7: Piquet is all over Hamilton in a battle reminiscent of their GP2 days. Hamilton gets the place. Kovalainen is the latest casualty of this high-casualty race, trundling around at the speed of a moped.

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Lap 6: And we’re racing. Brawns down the road. Webber has beaten off Alonso who got a place off him but couldn’t hang on to him. Superb racing. Massa third, Vettel fourth.

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Lap 5: Safety car is coming in at the end of this lap.

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Lap 4: Order is Barrichello, Button, Massa, Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Glock, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Kubica, Piquet, Hamilton, Fisichella, Nakajima. This said to be a terrible outcome for Vettel, Red Bull frantically recalculating strategy.

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Lap 3: Retirements, just to recap, are Trulli, Sutil, Bourdais and Buemi. Fisi has pitted for repairs, so has Nakajima. Safety car still out. Hamilton shoved onto the grass by Piquet at the start but has hung on OK. The two Toro Rossos are completely in the frame for this – we think it was Bourdais’ taking a reckless lunge. P45 territory. Hamilton’s been straight through a carpet of carbon fibre.

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Lap 2: The problem seems to have been caused by Sutil cutting the corner then swerving onto the track – but Trulli’s Toyota was already in trouble thanks to going wide too. When they rejoined, they hit. But how did the Toro Rossos get involved? The worst possible outcome for that team – the drivers taking each other out… Raikkonen has gained six places and is up to tenth.

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Lap 1: The two Brawns are away while Massa and Vettel fight. Barrichello gets first, Massa third. A second-corner crash at the back loses a Toyota, a Force India and both Toro Rossos but Hamilton’s McLaren gets through safely. Order is Barrichello, Button, Massa, Vettel, Webber, then we think Alonso. Sutil is out and the race yellow-flagged. Safety car.

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Parade lap: Everyone away safely. Track temperature has reportedly dropped dramatically – by four degrees. Wind is said to be an issue.

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On the grid: Martin Brundle notes that during the GP2 race the even-numbered grid slots were the faster off the mark – while the Brawns, starting first and third here, have suffered start line problems all season. Vettel to win from Massa, then?

Higher-ups from McLaren and Ferrari seen chatting amicably on the grid. We remember the days when…

Massa is the only one of the front for on scrubbed tyres. He’s trying to get the lead then scamper off down this hard-to-overtake-on track.

In other news, Bernie E has let slip that no less than *two* American teams are chasing grid slots. One we know about – Peter Windsor’s USGPE outfit. And the other? Speculation covers established IRL teams Penske and Andretti Green, but it may be no more than speculation.

Oh, that’s right, we remember what the Spanish national anthem sounds like…

A rare appearance by Fisichella on the grid walk – as we always say, the camera is welcome to linger on the grid’s best-looking driver for as long as it likes. Unfortunately he doesn’t give it so many opportunities once he’s in the car. It seems increasingly likely that this is his last season, but we said that last year, and for three years about DC.

Bourdais agreed to talk and looks really unhappy as the camera focuses in on him/. “We’ll do the best we can and see if we can get out of it… keep plugging away.”

Brundle on his grid walk does that thing he sometimes opts for which is starting at the back – littered with a Ferrari, a BMW and two McLarens. Apparently the rain forecast is at 40 per cent and the skies are unclouded. Anthony Hamilton is very pointedly not talking.

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Pre-race: Raikkonen confirms in an interview that he’s contracted for next year. But Eddie Jordan reckons that he won’t end up in the car – “he’s clearly not doing his job”.

Alonso is interviewed by Lee McKenzie and says the team has been struggling all weekend. His little bons mots are usually pretty accurate, so unlikely to be any first-lap fireworks there.

And it’s not only Toyota. Martin Whitmarsh is quoted in Autosport predicting a wholesale manufacturer boycott unless the FIA moves on the budget cap and two-tier rules it is proposing. More here. Reportedly Mosley and Di Montezemolo are going to sit down and try to sort it out: More here.

One response to “F1: Spanish Grand Prix liveblog”:

  1. Twitted by BritsOnPole Says:

    May 10th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    […] This post was Twitted by BritsOnPole – Real-url.org […]

 
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