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Barrichello on pole in waterlogged Brazil qualifying
Barrichello on pole in waterlogged Brazil qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Oct 2009   |  9:30 pm GMT  |  64 comments

An epic qualifying session ended with Rubens Barrichello on pole position for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Heavy rain delayed the start of the sessions and then there were red flags for accidents and incidents as well.

Everything to smile about

Everything to smile about

Championship leader Jenson Button starts 14th after another nightmare session. He did not have the edge left in his tyres when the track was at its fastest and he missed the cut for the top ten shootout.

So it is advantage Barrichello. The Brazilian needs to score five points more that Button tomorrow to take the fight to the final race in Abu Dhabi. Button needs a cool nerve, a win for Barrichello would require Button to finish third to take the title. But Mark Webber, who traded pole position times with Barrichello in Q3, will attack from the outset and as he is no longer in the hunt, he will have nothing to lose.

The other championship contender Sebastian Vettel had a nightmare day. The driver most people were tipping for pole in the dry, had set his car up for a dry race and couldn’t get the grip in the wet. Traffic was also a problem for him, but he did get some clear laps and he crashed out in first qualifying. He will start the race tomorrow in 16th on the grid.

There was a lot of standing water on the track, with rivers running across the track surface at many points. Most drivers experienced aquaplaning, the stepped floor acting almost like a hull, especially on cars which were trying to run a low ride height. With the potential for a dry race in prospect, the temptation was to try to run a dry set up.

The conditions were very challenging and the delays were long. It took well over two and a half hours to get to the end; Giancarlo Fisichello spun his car early in the first qualifying session, which brought out a red flag. He had already set a time before he spun, but track conditions improved greatly after the stoppage and he ended up 20th.

The first session claimed some big scalps; as well as Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella and Nick Heidfeld were all eliminated.

The second session was red flagged as Tonio Liuzzi hit the pit wall hard, knocking all four wheel off his car.

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My TiVo cut the qualifying coverage short, but Q1 and the little bit of Q2 that I was able to see was interesting.

My favorite part of the qualifying on Saturday was seeing Barrichello asleep in his car while the track was red flagged. It was absolutely hilarious!


Hi James,

A question, I thought that after quali the cars go into parc femme. I am just watching the grand prix on the BBC(Sunday) a interview with Rubens that took place in the evening after quali and in the back ground mechanics are working on his car, How is that allowed? And if it is allowed what changes can they make?


Essential changes are allowed if anything of the things you are allowed to replace need replacing. There is always a list which comes out from the FIA before the race of permitted changes.


Another good performance from Kimi, single-handedly taking Ferrari to what looks like 3rd place in WCC now (as LH quali’d so far back for this race). The contrast between his times and Fisi’s since he arrived in the time has been giant. It will be bizarre, will it not, if Kimi is not able to get a very top drive for next year – after all in his time at Ferrari he was WDC in his first year, 3rd in WDC in his second year, and this year in the last 7/8 races at least has been showing his ultra-consistent star quality in what his team manager Luca Domenicali has admitted is a dog of a car. In other words, there is no reason for him not to be in a very top car car next year and yet the way things have panned out, it is unclear whether he will even have a drive, as things stand!

I reckon he would be more than a match for Lewis alongside him at Macca, which will make Lewis nervous, as clearly Lewis’s first aim is to be no. 1 in the team he is in (this was his stated aim when Alonso came to Macca). let us cross fingers that we are not in the bizarre situation of Kimi not even being in F1 next year because of the way things have turned out. this would be the fate of a driver who is no longer any good, or someone on the downhill slope at the minimum, and neither of these things is what KR is.


Does the 8 engines rule apply per car or per driver?

Glock apparently switched to engine 9 in Japan but didn’t race, therefore assuming that engine is still in the car for Brazil, does Kobayashi have to take the penalty, or does the count reset and he actually has 8 engines to play with for 2 races?

Jenson is certainly giving a good impression of someone making heavy weather of winning this WDC. While I think he’s handling the pressure well during the races (he hasn’t thrown the car off the track desperately trying to get the last few points he needs), he doesn’t make it easy for himself with his qualifying performances!

Given that even if he DNFs the last 2 races the others still have to do alot to overtake him, I’d have thought Button would take the opportunity to ‘go for it’ more than be conservative like he has been.

I hope that it stays dry for at least the first part of the race, as at least then there’s the best chance of a clean start – especially for Button and Vettel.


I think everyone will agree that it is pure, so familiar to F1, idiocy not to allow setup changes between quali and race in situations where one is wet and other dry or vice versa.


Button is still in the pound seats for the championship. Both Vettel and Barrichello both have to score in both races. A DNF for either is game over for them.


Normally I’d love to see a wet race – but the big danger is that is rains hard, Webber does his usual “I’m more worried about driving in rain than being a racing driver” act and the race gets stopped with only half points awarded, crowning Button.

There’s a lot to run in this weekend yet.


I’m really glad for Rubens. He deserves this win in his home GP and the title as well. It must be a very intriguing race. You go, Rubens!


I don’t envy the man that has to write a ‘how will it unfold’ article today.


Should be a stomer of a race, quick cars at the back and the middle. I bet Sutil fancies his chances up there.

I think the owners of the Yas Marina have their collective fingers crossed.

Go Jense!


It’s a stupid rule that cars can’t be changed from wet to dry setups before the race. It makes the race more of a lottery, and it’s not about who is the best team anymore (more which team has the best weather-forecast…). The weather is always unpredictable, so there shouldn’t be any rules tight to this.


Watched on BBC iPLayer download of BBC 1 footage. Really annoying since watched for 2hrs 10mins (until after the the halting of Q2).

Then they switched feed to BBC2 but don’t add the follow-up footage to the file on the website. aaarrrrgghhhh!


Nightmare mate. I was watching the live feed on their site. Can’t believe they made such a basic error.


Hi James,

Just read the fuel wieghts. Looking at the numbers it looks like Rubens has to try and make a decent gap to Webber, AS & JT before his first stop…they are all fuelled to go further. I see Button now has SV alongside so that will be interesting to see going into turn 1. I think both JB & SV will also have one eye on therookies around them going into Turn 1.

Do you know why both Mclarens are still carrying the same fuel as Webber? Either way it looks like more grey hairs for british sports fans!

Paige Michael-Shetley

They’re going aggressive to overtake cars in the first stint. If it’s dry today, it will work beautifully with the advantage they’ll have with a dry setup and a car that was already working well on race fuel in the dry.

If it’s a dry race tomorrow, the fight for victory will be down to the McLaren drivers and Vettel, who is also on a dry setup. It’ll be like Suzuka 2005, when Raikkonen and Alonso stormed through the field. The McLaren drivers will have to get ahead of Vettel on the start and get the hell away from him, but if they do that, they’ll be in with a shot.

If it’s a wet race tomorrow, McLaren don’t have a prayer. Webber will likely win with the stronger car and better strategy. Barrichello will have a fight on his hands with Sutil, Trulli, and Buemi (who is VERY quick) for the podium.


Good call on the Mclaren question.



The more i see Button struggle, now i realize why Shumi was paid the top $$ and is rated so highly.

He managed to sustain 12 years of fighting for the championship at the top, except 1999 when he broke a leg. Button can’t even handle half a seasons worth of pressure at the top!

Why is Brawn keeping him?? Surely, Rubens has more mental strength in a crunch situation, and he has shown to step-up when the pressure is on!

I see his championship title having the same ‘value’ as Hill in 96, basically more credit to the car & team, than driver skill!


What a load of rubbish. You can’t compare winning your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th championship with the pressure of your first – and schumi only won that one by driving into Damon… Rubens is a classic case of someone who throws his toys out of the pram when things don’t go his way.

Paige Michael-Shetley

“I see his championship title having the same ‘value’ as Hill in 96, basically more credit to the car & team, than driver skill!”

Damon Hill is the most criminally underrated driver in F1 history. This is a driver who nearly won a race with the bloody Arrows team on pace, to begin with. He was a very good wet weather driver and won a number of wet races in impressive performances. He worked well with the team to set up and develop the car. Williams has admitted years after the split that it was his worst mistake to dump Hill, and the slip in the team’s fortunes years after his departure is no coincidence.


For me the star of qualifying was Kamui Kobayashi. With so little experience and in so difficult circumstances he did a very impressive job. I am impatient to see how he will fare during the race.


i’ve always had my eye on that guy before, and to see him handle the car as well as he’s done so far is pretty impressive.



Is Kimi any closer to announcing his team/plans for 2010? Any truth in Kimi to Toyota/RedBull rumors?



The McLaren line seems to be less strong now. I can’t see him at Toyota, much as they would love to have him.


so james that u reckon kimi is actually thinking about retirement? is he gonna pull the plug

i mean this would be a huge loss

i hope we could get to see lewis vs kimi show down.

Paige Michael-Shetley

If it’s a dry race tomorrow, I’d expect Vettel and McLaren to go storming through the field with their dry setups.


Its a plot, I tell you, a *plot!!

I just dunno who’s in charge!



A Grand Prix is limited to 2 hours, so why is there not some sort of time limit to qualifying?

Over here in Canada, the broadcaster got bored after 1 3/4 hours and moved onto Nascar, so we missed the end of qualifying…..

I thought at one point that qualifying would be abandoned and the grid fixed off Q1 (I am sure Jenson would have preferred that).

Just wondering what the thought process was in persisting with qualifying for such a long time.


Good point, I felt much the same


I have to agree it was a bit tedious…

Luckily here in SA we had uninterrupted coverage the whole way through, and it was actually quite interesting having the opportunity to listen in to a few other players in F1. Must say Eddie Jordan is a cynical chap hey!!

Anyways, my point is, I’ve watched this sport for many years, and never seen this before. I don’t think the rules need to be changed due to one occurace (yes it sort of happened to an extent in Japan), but just let it be!

What they need to work on is the racing! It’s a frightening statistic that this year there have been far fewer overtaking moves than last, and this is with the overtaking groups input! And I have unfortunately this season had too many ocassions where I have thought, I should have recorded this so I could fast forward through the boring bits, I never thought I would think let alone write that ever!

Bring on the rain for the race today!


Thankfully the BBC jumped to BBC2 (Come Dancing was even delayed) – I don’t know if Bernie has some agreement which forced them to show the whole session live?

But I thought this was the best qualifying show of the year. I’d have felt cheated if they hadn’t completed all three sessions. As for using the Q1 times, what would you do with fuel loads? It would have been a farce and risked accusations of it being a contrived show.

To be fair the BBC team deserves some credit – they filled the gaps superbly and all the teams seemed to understand the need to help the broadcasters with some entertaining input from Horner, Howett, Head, Hamilton (hmmm all the “H’s” in fact). It was an excellent and compelling piece of broadcasting.

But the bottom line is this…. surely it was worth the wait to have Rubens in P1 and Button and Vettal right down the grid? Great qualifying setting up what will hopefully be a great race and an even greater run down to Abu Dhabi.


I’ve been a JB fan for a long time to, but frankly, I don’t think he deserves this title any more. All you ever have to do in this sport is beat your team mate, which he hasn’t done in the second half of the season. YOu can’t call yourself the best in the world with that track record 🙁


Well then Rubens doesn’t deserve it either then, as he couldn’t beat Jenson for the first half… Plus, Rubens has no pressure, he is not leading the championship is the hunter not the hunted.


With the fuel weights Button looks to have a fighting chance. Barrichello is lightest so I think Webber has a good chance to jump him meaning Jenson needs to finish FOURTH if Rubens is second but Sutil is also threatening with his position meaning a FIFTH would suffice for Jenson if Rubens was third. Basically Jenson needs to get around the Senna S. That corner could determine the world championship. If Jenson is taken off there the championship is Rubens.


If Rubens is 2nd, Jenson only needs 5th and if he’s 3rd, Jenson needs 7th. The points difference between 1-2-3 is greater than lower down the points positions, you see.

Having said that, even if Webber wins, Rubens 2nd, Jenson will have done exceptionally well to achieve a 5th place finish.

Anyone know Jenson’s best race this season, in terms of places gained from his grid slot? (I know he’s been on the front two rows a lot, so it isn’t a “fair” question, but I’m interested nonetheless)


Great for Rubens. Shocker from Button. Frankly, I think Barrichelo deserves the title more than Button – Barrichelo has been a star during the last part of the season and he has coped with the preassure a lot better than Button. Should be a fun race either way…nice to see Kimi dragging the Ferrari up to 5th as well. Go Rubens !


80% + chance for rain in the race tomorrow as well I see. It could still well happen for button tomorrow. If he keeps it on the track there is a very good possibility to score with the kers neutralized and all the inexpreiance in front of him


Any news on weather Vettel will be taking an engine change since he’s at the back of the field anyway?


Glad that we are back racing at last

phew last week was just stupid news one after another… the race would be worth it…

hopefully vettel can score vital points needed to keep the hunt alive…

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