Monza: Barrichello Wins; KERS Loses

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Did someone say the KERS equipped cars would win this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza? I thought I heard that this week. As it is, Rubens Barrichello lead a Brawn GP 1-2 with teammate and points leader Jenson Button. It was Brawn GP’s first 1-2 finish since Monaco earlier this year and squarely places the two teammates at odds with each other for the championship battle.

Computationally the KERS equipped cars looked to be the best bet for this weekend’s race and this notion was further bolstered when Renault dusted off their KERS units and bolted them to the car for the grand prix. Much was made about fuel loads and how the KERS equipped cars would be dangerous for Adrian Sutil’s Force India car that started in 2nd as well as the Brawn GP and Red Bull cars all of whom were KERS-less.

In fairness to KERS equipped cars, Sutil was thoroughly managed by the push-not-to-pass-button’s of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen. While Sutil hounded Raikkonen for most of the race, passing was another matter and Hamilton’s light-fueled McLaren seemed daunting as the young Brit put in flying lap after flying lap in a desperate attempt to make his strategy work. So in fairness, KERS did play a distinct role in holding off the newly competitive Force India car of Sutil but they were not effective in staving off the sheer tactical prowess of Ross Brawn.

There is no computational model to capture the genius of Ross Brawn or today’s performances from Barrichello or Button. Barrichello outpaced his teammate when it mattered most and seemed at ease with the pace, car and pressure as he let the race come to him through tactics and pure performance. The driver started on alternate tire compounds and Barrichello’s prime for the first stint insured he has softs for the second stint and more grip right out of the pit box.

The result were much needed by Brawn GP and showed that McLaren’s pace, as well as Ferrari’s, is good but in the end Brawn GP is still a force to reckon with in F1 and still the team to beat. Unfortunately for Red Bull, their weekend has perhaps betrayed their actual pace and placed a serious wound on their championship aspirations.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber may find his title hopes over as he was punted in a first lap incident with Robert Kubica who later retired himself from the race as well. Sebastian Vettel was the big loser for this weekends grand prix as he desperately needed a win to keep the smoldering coals alight in his title hopes. Sadly he finished with a single point in 8th. Team boss Christian Horner admitted that Monza may not be the best track to expose compliment the performance of their car but there aren’t many tracks left to do that and the chances are leaving the proverbial house of opportunity through the doors, windows and chimney at this point.

While Heikki Kovalainen was hobbled by a heavy-fueled strategy that rendered his KERS advantage useless; his teammate Lewis Hamilton drove a terrific race that was cut short as he crashed on the penultimate lap handing third place to Ferrari’s Raikkonen. It must be said that Hamilton was driving his heart out and wringing everything he could get from the car but one could argue that running third with a 6 second gap between you and second place is and one lap to go is not a time to push it beyond the limits and lose the team 6 valuable points.

Fast lap of the day was held by Force India’s Adrian Sutil and a justified points finish was terrific for the team. New driver Vitantonio Liuzzi hada terrific race going in 6th place until a gearbox problem left him sidelined. Oh, and as for Luca Badoer’s replacement? Giancarlo Fisichella finished 9th. Anyone think Badoer would have done better?

Pos Driver Team Time
1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1h16:21.706
2. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) + 2.866
3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 30.664
4. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 31.131
5. Alonso Renault (B) + 59.182
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1:00.693
7. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 1:22.412
8. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) + 1:25.427
9. Fisichella Ferrari (B) + 1:26.856
10. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 2:00.000
11. Glock Toyota (B) + 2:43.925
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
14. Trulli Toyota (B) + 1 lap
15. Grosjean Renault (B) + 1 lap
16. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 2 laps

Fastest lap: Sutil, 1:24.739

Not classified/retirements:

Driver Team On lap
Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 23
Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 20
Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 16
Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1


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