By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Never has finishing fifth in a Grand Prix felt so sweet. Brawn GP driver Jenson Button used the four points he earned in the Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday in São Paulo to secure the 2009 Driver’s Championship. The Englishman drove a perfect race, starting from a weak fourteenth place and climbing up the table to fifth, winning with four points and more than enough to put him out of reach in the season’s ranking chart. With one race left, Button is fifteen points ahead of the second-placed Sebastian Vettel, and there are only ten more points left in dispute.
“Today was the best race of my career and I’m really going to enjoy this moment. It’s going to take a while to sink in but for now I’m just reveling in the achievement of a lifelong dream. It’s going to be one hell of a party tonight!” said a triumphant Jenson Button.
Before the race, the only other title contenders were Button’s teammate, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, and Red Bull Racing driver, Sebastian Vettel, but both of them had only remote chances of victory. Rubinho’s hopes were somewhat high, since he was driving a home race, and would start in pole position, while his rival would only start in the fourteenth place.
Barrichello’s optimism started to fade however at the first corner of the race. In the chaotic first lap, a series of accidents allowed Button to rise five positions. Shortly after, the safety car entered the track to get rid of debris.
As he clocked up lap after lap, Button continued to climb up the ranking, while Barrichello tumbled down due to a bad choice of tires. Barrichello had chosen tires equipped for rain, but the afternoon remained dry. By the half-way point in the race, the driver decided to change tires, but it was too late. Rubens ended up in eighth position, winning only one point.
“While I am obviously disappointed with the result today, I have to be pleased with our year at Brawn GP. I’m truly pleased for Jenson as a friend and he is a great champion. We have a fantastic relationship working together and that has really shown through this year. Well done to him. It was a true fight and I fought really hard but he really won it in the first half of the season,” said Rubinho.
Button did have an amazing season start, winning six of the first seven initial races. In the second half, however, his results weren’t nearly as good, but all was forgotten as he celebrated yesterday in São Paulo.
Button’s championship win diverted the attention away from the winners of the race in São Paulo: Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber was first, followed by BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who completed the podium.
Fourth place was claimed by RBR’s Sebastian Vettel, who, with that, passed Barrichello by two points in the season ranking. The championship runner-up will be decided in the United Arab Emirates Grand Prix, held in Abu Dhabi on November 1.