The Formula 1 paddock rolled into their most glamorous venue: Monaco. Jenson Button led the driver’s championship, 14 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello, as he had taken 41 points out of a possible 45. Brawn were still the force to be reckoned with, even if the other teams were fighting back.
Red Bull had upgraded their RB5, including a new double-decker diffuser. Force India had added new front and rear wings, in an attempt to score their first ever points. Other teams like Toyota and BMW Sauber had changed thei cars for more mechanical grip.
Lewis Hamilton crashes in qualifying at Mirabeau
In qualifying, the first event was Lewis Hamilton crashing in Q1, at the Mirabeau corner, and damaging his suspension. He had already set a time, but was still knocked out in 16th place. But, he also changed his gearbox, and had to start 19th. In Q3, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel dominated the session, until Button cam in with a stunning lap to take pole position. The KERS-equipped Kimi Raikkonen started 2nd, a clear sign that the Ferraris were starting to be competitive.
Before the start, Vettel and both Brawn drivers took on the super-soft tyres, while everyone else stayed with the softer compound. At the first corner, Raikkonen lost second place to Barrichello, despite his KERS advantage. For the next few laps, the main concern was how the super-soft tyres would hold up.
After the start, Felipe Massa was trying to work his way up the field. He had qualified 5th, but failed to make any progress despite his KERS. He tried a move on the 4th placed Sebastian Vettel at the Turn 11 chicane, but locked his tyres, and cut the corner. He accidentaly overtook Vettel, and was instructed to hand the position back to Sebastian, but at the same time keep an eye out for Nico Rosberg behind. But, when Felipe slowed to allow Vettel through, Nico made a daring move to squeeze himself past Massa as well.
On Lap 10, Sebastien Buemi was battling with Nelson Piquet Jr at the back of the field. Buemi missed his braking point at Snt Devote, and smashed into the back of the Renault, taking off Piquet’s rear wing. Both drivers were forced to instantly retire. Piquet was furious at Buemi’s mistake afterwards.
Buemi misses his braking point and takes out Piquet
Soon enough, it became apparent that the super-soft tyres were disintegrating at a rapid pace, after Lap 12. The Red Bull of Vettel was most harmed by this, as the Brawn cars were more easy in terms of tyre wear. On Lap 15, again at Snt Devote, Sebastian locked his rear brakes, went too quickly into the corner, and crashed. Barrichello had the same problem of heavily worn tyres, and pitted soon after.
Button, on the other hand, was able to perfectly manage his super-soft tyres, and pulled out fantastic laps with them even when they began to wear. He soon pulled out a 15 second advantage over Barrichello after the first pit stop.
However, behind Button’s dominance, it wasn’t a classic race. After the first pit stops, the next piece of action came on Lap 51, when Heikki Kovalainen crashed his McLaren at the Swimming Pool complex, due to a lack of traction exiting the corner. His team-mate Hamilton was having a torrid race also. He brushed with Nick Heidfeld on Lap 10, and couldn’t make progress after that. It couldn’t be a greater difference from 2008, and the same could be said about Jenson Button.
Jenson Button takes one step further to please the fans!
Despite Kazuki Nakajima crashing on the last lap at Mirabeau, nothing could stop Button taking the win. Once he crossed the line, he shouted the famous line: “Monaco baby, yeah!” The only mistake he made all day was after the finish, when he accidentaly parked his car in parc ferme, instead of on the main straight like the top 3 finishers in Monaco are supposed to do. He therefore got out of his car, and ran down the pit straight to the podium! It was an unusual ending to the race for Prince Albert 2nd, who was forced to wait with Barrichello and Raikkonen at the podium while Button casually legged it!
Jenson Button celebrates with Nick Fry after the race
This victory gave Button plenty of records. He now held the third best-ever start to a season in F1, with 5 wins and 1 third place in 6 races. It was also the first time in modern F1 that a single engine won 3 races in a row, the first time since the 1950’s. Also, this was the first time since 2006 that a driver had won 3 races in a row.
Button now stretched out his lead in the standings, with 51 points compared to Barrichello’s 35. Vettel was a further 8 back on 23, while Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli had 19.5 and 14.5 respectively. Brawn now had 86 constructor’s points, ahead of Red Bull (42.5), Toyota (26.5), Ferrari (17) and McLaren (13).
Next up was Turkey, where Button would aim to equal the greatest start to the first 7 races of an F1 season.
Here is the official race review: