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Brazilian GP 2009

OCTOBER 17, 2009

Qualifying Report - Rubens the rain-meister

Rubens Barrichello, Brazilian GP 2009
© The Cahier Archive

Rubens Barrichello has always excelled in complicated qualifying sessions, with changing conditions and he did it again in Brazil, when he most needed it. The Brazilian crowd might have been soggy from constant rain but they were jumping up and down as Barrichello swept to pole position on a day when his championship challengers were all over the place.

The session began in the rain and the Q1 session produced some shocks as the two McLarens and Sebastian Vettel both missed out while Nico Rosberg was fastest from the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Also gone was Giancarlo Fisichella who spun and brought out a red flag as the Ferrari ended up sideways across the track at the bottom of the Senna Esses.

The rain intensified towards the end of the session and the efforts of Hamilton and Vettel were in vain, Hamilton ending up with an off as he tried everything to get into Q2.

Q2 was delayed because it was too wet and then the decision to go was taken. It was probably too early as almost immediaetly Liuzzi acquaplaned on the main straight and smacked the pit wall and then went across the track and into the tyres at Turn 1. The car was a mess but Tonio was unharmed. The red flags came out.

"It should not have been restarted at that time," said Barrichello.

The rain intensified for a while and then it remained much the same. The Medical Car was sent out several times to check conditions but it was deemed too wet to restart the session. That did not happen until 10 past four, two hours and 10 minutes after Q1 had begun. The track was drying through the session and the choice of tyres was the problem. Should then got with extreme wets or wets? In the end Jenson Button got it very wrong and ended up 14th.

Also out of luck were Kamui Kobayashi, who had done a very decent job for Toyota. Also out went Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean.

And so to the Q3 session. The track was drying still and it was all about being on the road at the right time with the right tyres. It looked like pole position would be decided on the last lap as so often happens in these situations. The decision was when to switch tyres. Barrichello got it all right although there was still half a minute to go when he crossed the line. Fortunately for him the main challengers for pole all missed the opportunity of a final fast lap. This cost Williams a lot. Sutil, Raikkonen, Buemi and Kubica did go for it and all moved up the order as a result. Behind Barrichello was Mark Webber, but Sutil jumped to third with Jarno Trulli pushed back to fourth, while Raikkonen came up to fifth and Buemi to sixth. Rosberg ended up in seventh, with Nakajima ninth, the two split by Kubica's last lap, while Fernando Alonso stayed 10th, probably having decided to go for a very heavy fuel load for Sunday.