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How Rubens' race was run
How Rubens' race was run
Posted By:   |  30 Mar 2009   |  1:03 pm GMT  |  31 comments

Rubens Barrichello had an unbelievable afternoon in Melbourne on Sunday, which deserves a closer look. He started and finished second, but in between it was far from plain sailing, with two collisions, both of which caused bodywork damage. It is one of those, ‘How did he get there?’ races, so I thought I’d go through the race history and try to explain it.

At the start he bogged down when the anti-stall mechanism kicked in as he left the line. He was swallowed up by the cars behind him, and entered the first corner in amongst the cars from row 5 of the grid.

In the melee at turn one, with Webber, Fisichella and Heidfeld involved, his car was hit hard from behind, which broke a chunk of the diffuser off. He also tagged his front wing, losing one of the endplates. So some pretty important parts for creating downforce were missing from the outset.

At the end of the first lap he was in 7th place, behind Nico Rosberg. The pair were lapping relatively quickly at first, until they came up behind the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on lap 5 and from there the pace dropped off by three seconds as Raikkonen struggled with the sudden deterioration of his soft tyres. Raikkonen pitted on lap 10. By lap 14 Rubens was back to 4th place, but still lapping two seconds slower than his team mate in the lead car. Rosberg was driving away from him. Rosberg pitted on lap 16 and Rubens came in two laps later. At this point he was 45 seconds behind his team mate.

It was a long stop as they replaced the front wing and in the 14 seconds he dropped there, he was passed by Buemi, Trulli, Massa and Raikkonen, all of whom had made their first stop and Piquet who was one stopping.

So he had sacrificed a lot of track position, he was now 10th, but at least he had a functioning front wing. Up to this point his best lap was 1m 29.6, whereas Button with an intact car and no traffic had done a best of 1m 28.0 and could have gone faster still.

At this point the safety car came out after Nakajima shunted the Williams. This gave Rubens back 40 seconds of the deficit to his team mate.

At the restart he passed Buemi and Rosberg, while Piquet flew off the road, so he was up to 7th and lapping at around a second per lap slower than Button. Trulli was three seconds ahead and gently pulling away. Massa and Trulli then pitted, which brought Rubens back up to fifth place. That became third on lap 40 after Kubica and Raikkonen pitted. At this stage he was back to 23 seconds adrift of his team mate.

Brawn had quickly realised from watching Ferrari that the soft tyre was a disaster and so at the first stops they had fuelled both the cars for a long middle stint, 33 laps in Rubens’ case, which would mean he would only have to do seven laps on the soft tyres at the end.

This strategy brought him up to third place by lap 41 and by now he was lapping at the same pace as Button, in other words Button had slowed down by a second a lap, he says because the tyres were losing temperature and grip (This almost cost Button the lead to Vettel, when he had his slow pit stop on lap 47.)

Rubens was essentially racing Trulli for 5th place at this stage, with Button, Vettel, and Kubica due to finish ahead of them. Trulli had the advantage in the middle phase of the race, but what lost him time was being stuck behind Fisichella after his second stop on lap 33. The long middle stint worked very well for Rubens and when Vettel and Kubica had their collision towards the end, Rubens picked up second place, putting him back where he started the race! He was 27 seconds behind Button, but it would have been a lot more if Button had been pushing.

Interestingly neither Brawn car really registered on the fastest lap chart. Barrichello had a damaged car, but Button’s fastest race lap was that 1m 28.0, only the third fastest lap of the day, behind Rosberg and Kubica. In contrast Button had been doing consistent 1m 26s in Friday practice.

He did what he needed to, win the race at the lowest possible speed. Smoothness of style isn’t the only quality he shares with ‘The Professor’ Alain Prost.

Barrichello was always dealing with traffic and Button wasn’t on the limit, so it’s very hard to say how much that diffuser is worth to the car. But it’s a lot.

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Andrew Jackling

Hi James, the Brawn cars undoubtedly left a bit in the bag on Sunday which is a bit scary, will be interesting to see how it unfolds in Sepang this weekend.

I was at turn 15 on Sunday, fantastic spot. I managed to video the moment where Jarno Trulli went off under safety car which allowed Lewis Hamilton up into 3rd place.. hope I'm not out of line putting the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RGuS2PxZEE

Don't think the TV cameras caught this (or at least showed it) , so I hope this helps to tell the story a bit better.



I'm glad someone has mentioned Prost. Jenson's race reminded me of some of Prost's 1993 campaign in the Williams: smooth, deliberate and well paced.

Best of all was watching Rubens' race yesterday. A really determined drive which I doubt Bruno Senna would have been able to equal. And what a car! Bombproof and reliable with only the minimum of testing. Could be a great season for Brawn.

McFerrari - Formerly Of 606

Barrichello or Button to win Malaysia. It's a far more aerodynamic circuit which only plays into Brawn GP's hands. It could be easier for them to be honest.

It's good to see James doing this blog because we'd be lost without him.



Think the Brawn race pace says a lot for Ross's management of the race/drivers. Pre race he said he was concerned about reliability and during the race we heard him "speaking with a raised voice" telling Rubens to slow down (behind the safety car).

I am sure Ross did exactly what was needed to win, knowing full well how long some components have got to last before they can be replaced.

Good pit wall thinking. (Just ask the guys and gals at Pinewood slot car racing in Berkshire how methodical Ross can be!)


Putting it like that really puts into perspective how much work Rubens had put into that race.

I did wonder why the lap times weren't a bit faster from Jenson, but it does make you think how much both of them can push the car.


"At the start he bogged down when the anti-stall mechanism kicked in as he left the line."

In his post race comments he seemed to take responsibility for that. Was it his fault?

"In the melee at turn one, with Webber, Fisichella and Heidfeld involved, his car was hit hard from behind, which broke a chunk of the diffuser off."

Wasn't it Kovalainen who rammed his diffuser, because RB was travelling so slowly?

"it’s very hard to say how much that diffuser is worth to the car. But it’s a lot."

I wonder how much damage Rubens' suffered in his first crunch, it can't be too critical, because it still worked. His times did match the leader's for segments of the race.

He'll be feeling a tad sheepish if the anti-stall initiation was his "digital problem".


Mr Allen, as always a great article.

One of the other things that intruiged me about the race was Hamilton's eventual placing of 3rd. Now, attrition-rates of the cars in front of him aside, how did he manage to get up there; i read somewhere his fastest lap was slower than that of both Force India's so it seems interesting that he managed to leap frog the mid-field pack

was it the ability of the KERS system to allow him to pass cars and keep up his overall race pace (ie not getting stuck behind slower cars)? was is a pit-stop tactics that got him there? Care to shed some more light on how he achieved this feat, or have i missed the obvious?


What happened to Felipe Massa??
He was in third, then pitted and dropped to like 13!!!
Do you think the Ferrari is quick?
Whats you view of the cars in order of speed??


James, fantastic website. I mean really fantastic, nowhere else do you get this kind of detailed insightful analysis. This is THE "go-to" F1 website now, definitively. I just cannot say enough. Please keep it up, and give us more!


You say that Piquet was on a one-stopper, but I understand that he was actually on a strategy very similar to BUT/BAR, i.e. two-stopper with a short final stint on the soft tyres. At the second stop he stayed on the medium tyres, meaning he would have had to come in again regardless of fuel. A very understandable call by the Renault boys given that he would have had to run a very long time on the super-softs otherwise.

Also it's interesting that you say neither Brawns showed their true pace during the race, so it's probably fair to say that the only time they pushed their cars was in quali. That car is damn good!


Hi to Andrew Jackling. Andrew I've watched your video several times and the cars all appear to be racing. No yellow flags are out at either corner and a Renault passes a Red Bull after the Trulli/Hamilton incident. Had the SC signs come out at the time you took the video? I looks more like racing speed to me.


Looking at what happened with the soft tires, i think the difference in performance is too much between the two tires. From a fan point of view is not good to see a car that has perform wel during 75% to 80% of the race to drop places and places just because they are obligued to use a tire that loses all performance on a few laps.

Maybe track temperature was an issue at Melbourne and the drop could eae a bit on Malaysia but in reality teams and the FIA should look at this, as a fan nobody wants to be cars lapping as if they were with slicks in the rain


After Button's first stop, the TV graphics reported that Button had enough fuel to get to the finish, so I expected a quick stop with 2 laps to go to change to softs. Is this calculation done according to the time spent on the pits (Brawn were really slow) or according to the amount of fuel that goes inside? In the later case, is it possible that the engine consumes more than normal?


I thought I noticed that when Rubens came in for a new nose, the Brawn team had a new way of simply slotting it into place, thus saving a few seconds.

And; thanks for the video Andrew - brilliant.


Mr Brundle usually gets it right but in a rare error the said that Barrichello hit Mark Webber, when Webber in fact, turned in on him.


What a race - the best i've seen in years, and made up with the Branw combo

Even if this becomes another F2004 or another Williams from 96/97 and creams the feild every weekend, i really don't care as it'll provide Button with his chance to win to WC

Anyway - why do we want James back on British TV?

- This blog is bloody great

- Do you really think the BBC contract would allow him to write this blog?

- Would you prefer this blog or James commentating?

- I doubt his ITV website contract would allow it

- Give the new BBC guys a break - its their first event, they need to get into the groove - they'll get there, just like James did over 10 years ago

Only 5 days till practice!!!!


Excellent analysis, Jamws.
Ross Brawn really does see these races on a higher level than anyone else, and adjusts more rapidly during the race.



Great analysis. Totally agree that this is the best source of detailed infomation on Formula One.

Takes me back to when I used to read Jenks articles in Motorsport in the 1970s.


I'd love to see a similar analysis of Hamilton's race. He lucked into a few places but he seemed to be regularly in the mix despite the crappy car.

Podium from 18th is pretty impressive whichever way you look at it and would have been the story of the weekend if not for Ross's Raiders.


Thanks Andrew for the video. I can see how the stewards ended up penalizing Trulli but as he was pretty well forced to pass Hamilton due to McLaren being extra cautious (and who could blame them) the penalty should have been something nominal and less harsh. Trulli wasn't being unreasonable and it could have gotten pretty silly if it had started a "no, after _you_" between two cars under the safety car. Couldn't they have given him a fine or something?


Yes you are right I can clearly see the Red Bull on three wheels. I guess the cars were still going quite quickly as they hadn't caught up with the safety car. Thanks for replying. I envy you being there.


hi rpaco,
I have replayed the incident and quite frankly, to me ,Webber was on the racing line, being pressured from the outside, when RB just came in too hot. I was surprised there was no further action by the stewards. Subsequently it looked as though RB thought he was in a dodgem car demolishion derby.

I think his second place was more by luck than judgement. In my opinion he was more than helped by the Brawn mania down here, and an absolutely bullet proof car. Pity RB wasnt as good

Still we all have our own views , and only the decleared result matters. It looks like a season out of the ordinary, fast cars politics and noses out of joint....Bring it on 🙂

Have fun


yep KERS was the main culprit! - and his strategy helped a bit too, plus his bold bullish determanism as usual.


'NOW! clear to me why' - edit...


yep +1 on the video, cleared the matter right up, I was about to go looking on there to see if I could find a video of how Hamilton got passed but didnt get penalised while trulli did for passing him...its no clear to me why..


How interesting to see both Toyota's went off at the same spot.

Thanks Andrew - great add to your post.


@Andrew: You were there, so can you tell me if "Muzza" did the in-circuit commentating again this year?

Andrew Jackling

Hi Leigh, the safety car was definitely deployed at the time I took that video. If you watch closely you'll see that the Red Bull that gets passed at the end of the video is Vettel's Red Bull which only has 3 wheels after his crash with Kubica.

So yes, the race had definitely been neutralized at that point.


I think we need a poll.

- This blog is bloody great


- Do you really think the BBC contract would allow him to write this blog?


- Would you prefer this blog or James commentating?


- I doubt his ITV website contract would allow it

Its does, he is contribuing to both.

- Give the new BBC guys a break - its their first event, they need to get into the groove - they’ll get there, just like James did over 10 years ago

Well, I was watching the cycling commentary on BBC - the guy that does that is *SO* much better than Legard - so if his enthusiasm also translates to F1, he would be much better than Legard, if JA could not be retained.


I live in USA i a have never watched a full race on ITV, i only have able to see clips in youtube.com, but i agree with some of the comments James is an exceptionla F1 commentator. I see the races on speed tv and trust me the technical feedback is very very good with Steve Matchet and Peter Windsor (live from every cicuit), but the narrative of james is amazing, to say "100,000 local hearts sink in the grandstand..." just after Hamilton passed Glock is worth a mention, in that moment, with all the excitement of a British driver winning he could have said all about Hamilton but he focused in the complete sorroundings, it was brilliant. James if you read this congratulations! even if that was nearly 7 months ago.

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