Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello gear up for race to finish

This is it for Jenson Button — if he is going to be Formula One world champion in his tenth season on the grand-prix circuit, he is going to have to beat Rubens Barrichello, the oldest man on the grid, who was written off as a has-been only a few months ago. Online sports
After a strong performance by both drivers to score a Brawn GP one-two in yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix, during which the title challenge of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull drivers, ebbed away and there was a big last-lap crash by Lewis Hamilton, we are left with what promises to be a fascinating head-to-head.
In Brazil, Barrichello, 37, has been mocked as a Formula One “tortoise” and a man destined to be a No 2 after years supporting Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, while Button has been dismissed in England as a lightweight and a playboy without the grit to make it down the stretch.
Now is the moment of reckoning, as they go into the last four races with Button still ahead, albeit by only 14 points.
The man who won six of the first seven races this year, but has since suffered a slump in his form, was clearly relieved to be back on the podium, even if he was outdriven for the fifth time in six outings by Barrichello. And he tried a joke at the expense of the man who could yet deny him his dream. “I don’t know,” he said, sitting next to Barrichello minutes after coming off the podium. “I’ve put on a brave face lately, but I absolutely hate this guy and he doesn’t know his a*** from his elbow when it comes to racing cars.”
The Brazilian whose supremacy over Button was once again built in qualifying on Saturday, when he was quicker despite carrying a slightly heavier fuel load, underlined that he believes he still remains a tough competitor and one hardened by experience. Online sports
Reflecting on his days at Ferrari with Schumacher, he remarked: “Michael might have more skill than I had, but if you threw both of us into a jail with a tiger I might get out alive — I’m not sure about him.”
So are they going to end up at each other’s throats, hiding technical information from each other and slagging each other off in the press? Is it going to be another hate-fest in the manner of the bitter battle between Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007? Both men seemed confident this would not happen in a team led by the unflappable Ross Brawn and committed to open competition between their drivers.
Button said: “We’ve got a great relationship and we’ve been team-mates for years. We’ll work together; we’ve had to pull our car back to the front and we’ll see how it goes from here.”
Barrichello added: “If it is between ourselves, there is an old saying that goes: ‘You only win in Formula One if you are tough.’ We are both nice guys but the best thing in life is respect.”
While the Brawn drivers sized each other up, with Button looking slightly less at ease with life than Barrichello, over at McLaren, Hamilton was licking his wounds after driving the wheels off his car all afternoon before the ranks of the Ferrari faithful, only to overcook it at the end.
Having started from pole, his two-stop strategy was no match for the Brawns and he was trying to catch Button when he struck a kerb and piled his car into the wall. Having looked certain to finish third, he ended up twelfth and, not for the first time in his Formula One career, Hamilton’s philosophy of “keep pushing” at all costs had sent him over the edge.
“Every lap I was pushing like a qualifying lap, so it’s to be expected,” he said. “We didn’t have the pace and I was pushing as hard as I could. I can only say, ‘I’m sorry’ to the team.
“They did a great job and we weren’t quick enough this weekend. But I did all I could to catch the Brawns and to win it for the team. I apologise to all my fans.”


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