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GP Week : Issue 47
>>F1MONACO J ENSON Button pulled his BrawnGP car into the pits at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix, as he has done for the last four years, and wondered what to do next. And then it dawned on him; he’d won the race. And he had parked in completely the wrong place. Cue one of the visually defining moments of the year to date, as the elated Briton ran the length of the start/finish stretch to the podium and awaiting Royal family, waving to the cheering fans on the way. It was the only mistake he’d made all afternoon. In taking victory from pole position, Button became the first British driver in 36 years to do so, and carved his name alongside the greats to have won on the streets of Monte Carlo in the past. The manner in which he did so reflected just how rich his title aspirations can now be judged. He didn’t just win the race, he completely annihilated his opposition, including his team-mate Rubens Barrichello … again. Barrichello himself put in a good performance, screaming off the line as the lights went out to beat Kimi Raikkonen to the first corner, and set up a Brawn 1-2 that was untouchable in race conditions. Button then started lapping his rivals 20 minutes into the 78-lap contest in a demonstration of the advantage held by the Brawn car, and the ease at which Button finds himself with its handling. Despite losing second place to Barrichello at the first corner, Raikkonen did lead home a Ferrari 3-4 for the Scuderia’s first double points finish of 2009. While Monaco isn’t traditionally the best overall indicator of the quality of a car, it was a fine result for the team, which is still trying to make up for the mistakes that have seen it slip from championship contention this season. But while Brawn and Ferrari had much to celebrate, Red Bull was left contemplating where they had gone wrong. Sebastian Vettel was angry to have missed out on pole on Saturday, but an uncharacteristically sloppy race from him ended in retirement, while Mark Webber, who many had earmarked as a potential race-winner in the new diffuser- fitted RB5, was left to follow the top four home in fifth. If Red Bull had been left baffled by its inability to compete for the win, Toyota was left similarly dumbfounded. All the pre-race talk coming out of the team and, in particular, Jarno Trulli, was that Monaco stood as one of their best shots at victory. And yet the team was nowhere. Both cars went out of qualifying in the first session and Glock and Trulli trailed home in 10th and 13th. BMW, too, was hugely off the pace and never looked like mounting a challenge, even for points. Those final points positions went instead to Nico Rosberg, who in sixth position took his best result of 2009 for Williams, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Renault. Eighth and the last point went to Sebastien Bourdais in the Toro Rosso… but only just. On a yellow card from the stewards for cutting the chicane, one more misdemeanour would have seen him slapped with a drive-through penalty, and would have gifted the final point to Giancarlo Fisichella, who brought his Force India home just 1.898s from its first ever point. But the man of the race, and of this season so far, was Jenson Button. Earlier in the weekend, his team boss Ross Brawn had said that Jenson was starting to emulate the kind of form that Michael Schumacher had shown at Ferrari. If his rivals weren’t worried before, they should be now. 27