How Barrichello won and what happened to Grosjean (Italian Grand Prix analysis)

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Heikki Kovalainen couldn't match Rubens Barrichello's one-stop pace

A one-stop strategy worked wonders for Rubens Barrichello in the Italian Grand Prix. That, and an excellent qualifying performance against his team mate.

Meanwhile Romain Grosjean had an off-track adventure that seemed to go unnoticed by the TV cameras. This and more in the Italian Grand Prix analysis.

Lap 1

Italian Grand Prix - position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)

The KERS cars didn’t make their usual multiple positions gains on the first lap at Monza. This was partly because three of them qualified in the top four places and so had few places to make up.

Three KERS cars – those of Heikki Kovalainen, Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean – managed to lose ground, being crowded out on Monza’s narrow straights. Alonso was edged onto the gravel by Vitantonio Liuzzi at the first chicane.

Giancarlo Fisichella made up three places, but so did the KERS-less Robert Kubica, who started in front of him.

One stop or two?

Italian Grand Prix - one stop versus two (click to enlarge)

Before the race began Kovalainen’s heavy fuel load meant he looked in with a good chance of winning. But right from the off he couldn’t maintain a competitive pace and lost a lot of ground.

As well as losing any chance of winning for himself he wasn’t able to keep the Brawn duo behind him even for the first few laps, which might have helped Lewis Hamilton later on in the race.

Barrichello’s performance was very impressive, starting on Saturday when he out-qualified his team mate in a heavier car. No wonder he didn’t want to change his gearbox and sacrifice his advantage on the grid.

What happened to Romain Grosjean?

Grosjean’s second lap was a surprisingly slow 1’36.625, while most drivers were getting into the high 1’20s:

Romain Grosjean's lap times (click to enlarge)

What happened? Adam wrote in with a likely explanation:

Just thought you might like to see my picture of what happened to Grosjean the TV cameras didn’t catch. It was an amazing save on the exit of Parabolica!

Grosjean spinning at Parabolica (picture courtesy of Adam)

Adam saw the spin on lap two – there’s another picture of Grosjean’s spin here. Looks like the new Renault driver had some inconsistent laps in his final stint too, though they might have been because he was being lapped.

Fastest laps

Rank Driver Fastest lap Deficit to fastest lap Laps within 1% of personal best
1 Adrian Sutil 84.739 0 21
2 Kimi Raikkonen 84.761 0.022 20
3 Lewis Hamilton 84.802 0.063 35
4 Jenson Button 84.935 0.196 30
5 Rubens Barrichello 84.967 0.228 32
6 Heikki Kovalainen 85.109 0.37 14
7 Sebastian Vettel 85.194 0.455 13
8 Fernando Alonso 85.199 0.46 12
9 Nick Heidfeld 85.488 0.749 20
10 Giancarlo Fisichella 85.498 0.759 14
11 Sebastien Buemi 85.564 0.825 13
12 Romain Grosjean 85.609 0.87 4
13 Jarno Trulli 85.7 0.961 9
14 Timo Glock 85.751 1.012 16
15 Nico Rosberg 85.901 1.162 7
16 Kazuki Nakajima 85.976 1.237 18
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi 86.041 1.302 13
18 Robert Kubica 87.819 3.08 9
19 Jaime Alguersuari 87.846 3.107 12
No time Mark Webber No time No time No time

Race charts

Italian Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

There was little racing elsewhere in the field but Alonso deserves praise for his lap four pass on Kovalainen. Executed in an only slightly light car, and one that’s no match for the McLaren even with KERS, Alonso maintained his advantage until the end of the race and scored a solid fifth place.

There are many rumours about his future, and this underlines why it would be a waste for him to spend a third season in an uncompetitive car in 2010.

Italian Grand Prix lap chart

More on the Italian Grand Prix

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “How Barrichello won and what happened to Grosjean (Italian Grand Prix analysis)”

  1. Hi Keith,

    Can you please publish the lap time chart for Lewis, Rubens and Jenson.

    I think that shows better why Barrichello won – Lewis 2nd stint showed lap times of high 1,25 and 1,26 while on hard tires and fuelled for 18 laps. On the radio he also got the message that he was 0,3-0,4 seconds off the pace.


  2. great analysis keith, looking at adam’s photos, the italians are very relaxed about safety for the crowed judging by the flimsy looking barbed wire doesn’t even have any vertical fencing!!! that’s not going to stop any debris at all. at the race in melbourne, there are essentially two solid fences seperating the spectators from the track. i did notice during the race as well that when hamilton was leaving pit lane, there was a marshal standing just of the track waving a blue flag. good thing he didn’t over cook the throttle getting up to speed and spin off the track. that would have been bad…

    1. Its a very important issue that you mention. Monza is a notorious track. The last F1 death was at Monza. I think the authorities concerned must upgrade the safety standards, especially for the spectators. But what will the poor authorities do when there is Bernie around to gobble up the fund meant for safety purposes. I was terrified raikkonen crashed during the free practice in 2007. The track Marshall’s had a really close shave. Look how close the spectators were to the impact wall. What would have happened if that tyre were to come off? Monza needs some serious safety revamps.

      1. The last F1 death was at Melbourne, 2001.

  3. Hey, maybe Romain Grosjean was practicing for Singapore. :D

    1. Too funny

  4. the italians are very relaxed about safety

    I would say the FIA rather than the Italians. Is FIA who gives the approval for circuit’s safety measures.

    Great analysis Keith, you have “eyes” all around the world!

  5. Looking at Adam’s photo album – pix 381 and 382 seems to show Lewis having a serious sideways moment as well… didn’t see that on the TV either…

  6. Great analysis as usual.

  7. HounslowBusGarage
    15th September 2009, 8:41

    Great pics from Adam. I like the ones at the end showing people walking and riding bikes around the track, and the Inter-Milan stadium looks incredible!

  8. Sorry to go off topic…but it looks like they really do want Flavio Briatore’s head on a stick. Pat Symonds has been offered immunity, and the transcript of his conversation with the stewards to me clearly indicates crashgate did happen.

    1. One remaining question (out of many) is whether Symonds deserves immunity? On one hand, this does make it seem as if Mosley is going after Briatore. What a terrible situation.

      1. People, what part of BRIATORE IS A CROOK don’t you understand? The FIA is trying to turn people against him so he gets cornered and can’t cheat his way out of this one too. It’s the smartest thing they could be doing!

        1. Calm yourself, there’s nothing in my post denying Briatore’s reprehensible action (actions). I’m just wondering how Symonds deserves immunity.

        2. Smart but scary Flig. Rubbishing a major French company (part state owned?)in France is as scary as asking for the time from a French policeman. It could even be held that forming common cause with a confessed disaffected employee is a form of conspiracy.

  9. i think that alguersuari and grosjean have brought nothing to the season and that bourdais and piquet should have remained .
    Wonder where fisico would have ended up for Force India .

    1. I think the problem is not the drivers but the testing ban

    2. Fisi would have retired just as liuzzi did! is the same car.

        1. Who knows, though? The BBC commentary team (I forgot who exactly) made a comment not long before Liuzzi broke his transmission, saying that taking the kerbs at full throttle could produce exactly that kind of failure.

          Liuzzi, being less familiar with the car than Fisi (through no fault of his own) would presumably be more likely to get in trouble that way.

  10. Kovalainen’s race was compromised by his choice of using the prime tyre at the start. That’s why both Brawns and Alonso were able to pass him. Kovalainen’s second stint with softer compound is considerably faster as he is quicker than Räikkönen for instance. The race chart shows that Hamilton and Räikkonen were also struggling with the harder compound but they were both on two stop strategy and had to use the prime tyre only once in a relatively short stint. Räikkönen’s choice of using the harder compound in the last stint was obviously the right one. If Hamilton had done the same he might have won the race.

    1. Kovalainen’s race was compromised by his skills.

    2. @Jimi,

      Correct on all points, your comment deserves a place in the article itself.

    3. Spot on.

      I agree with you. Kova (and mainly McLaren) were wrong with the tyres strategy.

    4. Did Marty tell Kofailainen he needed to start on hard tires? It’s always something. This is the same story as Valencia, where Hamilton wrings out the car to stay in contention but Kovalainen fades. Maybe Hamilton is a lot better but he’s not Schumacher (yet)—he doesnt have 3-4 tenths on his teammate every lap at will.

      Bottom line is that there is no way he should have let two Brawns pass with four wheels on tarmac. They were the bogeys for this race. If the beige team stays behind Kov for the first few laps, Hamilton likely wins.

    5. Rubens started on primes too.
      Notwithstanding, the overtook Kovalainen and kept his team-mate at bay ;)

      This “starting with primes” story is not an excuse. His start was awful.

      1. Totally agree with you Guilherme. Kovi, it seems is floating on a wave of excuses. He always excuses himself by saying something irrelevant most of the times. Very rarely does he point fingers at himself and say “Yes I messed it up”. Apparently his KERS wasn’t malfunctioning, even if it was, he was lighter that Barrichello( by 2 laps) He should have given it his all to keep Barrichello behind him. Not only did he let go barrichello but also button,tonio & alonso.

        Having KERS & not being able to make up places off the start itself is a “BIG SIN”, let alone allowing cars to pass by. I was totally convinced it was Kovi’s race to lose when the weights were published on Saturday. I blows it again & again. I really dunno what happens to him during the race. His mind completely switches off. I think what he lacks is self belief. Not many people with talent comparable to Kovi get to drive for top teams. He must consider himself extremely lucky to have remained at mclaren after last year. He cost them the WCC. Having said that, poor guy needs some attention from some sports psychologist. F1 is more of a mind game than physical. its like playing chess at 300kmph. I think his entire mindset needs a revamp. Otherwise there is noway he can sustain himself in F1, let alone a high profile team like mclaren. And as FLIG said he really needs to hone his skills.

  11. I think it’s pretty obvious unfortunately, that Alonso will spend another season, if not the rest of his career driving for a mediocre team. Why else would he not have been confirmed for Ferrari at Monza?

    I fear it will be more of the same next season. Massa should go to Lotus, because ultimately, who would you rather have in your team? Alonso or Massa?

  12. the one vs. two stop and race charts are a little bit confusing, there is another way of doing them: instead of comparing everyone to the race leader you can also compare everyone to the average lap time. like this one did:

    I think it creates a clearer picture.

    1. Ruudje – maybe I’m used to it but I think Keith’s way of showingh te gaps is much clearer to me.

      1. the thing that makes it unclear is when the leader pits, it gives another driver a step in the graph while he physically hasn’t done anything. But it s probably personal. Would it be to much trouble to reproduce the 1 vs 2 stop in the other manner? Then we can directly compare.

  13. Is the advantage of KERS being exaggerated. We had 3 drivers passing KERS cars with a non-KERS car.

    Liuzzi on Kovalainen.
    Heidfeld on Fisi.
    Buemi on Fisi.

    1. The former is incompetent while the latter, simply not used to KERS just yet. Nobody manages to pass Grosjean?

  14. Good Job Keith as usual

  15. Yep great job Keith! New report out…

    Even in the midst of a championship battle, Jenson Button is reportedly also embroiled in complicated dealings about his future at the Brawn team.
    The Daily Mail and Sun newspapers in Britain report that, after having agreed to a multi-million pay cut before the start of the season, the 29-year-old driver now wants his money back before signing for 2010.
    The Sun quoted a source as saying that Brawn’s first counter-offer in monetary terms was “derisory”.
    Those reports coincide with an article in Britain’s Telegraph that says Nico Rosberg has “agreed a deal” to move from Williams to Brawn next year.
    The report said both Button and Barrichello are candidates to exit the team to make room for the 24-year-old German, who is strongly favoured by Mercedes-Benz, and that the German carmaker “has never shown much interest in signing Button”.
    The reports also claim that Button and his management have complained to Brawn about a lack of cooperation from Barrichello’s side of the garage, as the outcome of the 2009 title comes down to a straight fight between the teammates.

    They’ll keep Jenson and bring Nico on no doubt.

    1. I would read little to nothing into un-cited sources that the Sun and the Daily Mail quote.

      That said, a Button-Roseburg partnership would definately appeal to an Anglo-German F1 team.

    2. a lack of cooperation from Barrichello’s side of the garage

      Oh, so what happened to all those shared set-ups at the beginning of the year?

  16. OFF TOPIC:

    BMW-Sauber has an agreement with an investment Swiss group.

    LOTUS (Cosworth powered) has been admitted as the 13th team for next year.

    Good news both cases!

    1. I dunno what kind of a Lotus it is.If rumors are to be believed, this new Lotus are building their own R&D center at Sepang itself. I sincerely hope that they do not dilute the “ORIGINAL” Lotus brand name. Its legendary in its own rights.

    2. According to Yahoo News (AFP),the buyers of BMW will be using Ferrari engines.

  17. Lotus ??????

  18. According to italian and spanish press, Renault is considering “getting rid” of Briatore as soon as possible, so the punishment doesn’t befall the team, then, after the elections at FIA, he’d get back.
    They’re desperate. Why don’t they just get rid of Briatore and find someone who can do the job without cheating?

    1. Just like Mclaren had to get rid of Ron Dennis in order to escape serious consequences.

      1. Many people are under the impression that Ron was forced to step down due to the Liegate in Melbourne. They are wrong. Ron stepped down as Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes on March 1st 2009. The first race was on march 29th. But he continuous to be the CEO of The McLaren Group & the F1 team is a part of it. I dunno who suggested that Ron gave way cuz of the lie gate. Its absolutely wrong.

  19. Guilherme Teixeira

    and he had started with hard tires maybe was the key to victory because of track conditions in the second stint

  20. “Alonso maintained his advantage until the end of the race and scored a solid fifth place.

    There are many rumours about his future, and this underlines why it would be a waste for him to spend a third season in an uncompetitive car in 2010.”

    That’s perfecty right, every driver who can gain three places at race should get more competitive car for next season

  21. Sorry to be even further off the topic bu this is news hot off the press: Lotus will be the 13th team on the F1 grid next year with Mike Gascoyne as Technical Director. The team is Malaysian backed. FIA have given BMW Sauber the right to be 14th on next years grid. The FIA will be trying to get all teams to agree to have 14 teams on the grid next year.

    Sorry again for being of the topic, but I thought you’d all like to know.

    Articles on and

    1. I just noticed IDR beat me to it, I wanted to be the first to break the news! :-)

  22. Why is there no penalty for people crashing without provocation. The excuse that this particulart driver is fast and he always goes to win does not justify his immature act. The crash was deliberate and unprovoked. It could have been a game changer for others as well.
    He put marshals, fans and others at risk.
    Should there not be at least 5 place penalty in next race for such acts and infact for every crash by any driver?

    1. Who are you talk of??

    2. You talking of Hamilton?? Cm’n!
      I am not a big Lewis fan at all, but I think at least in this case he did exactly what he was supposed to do, i.e. pushing hard all the time. I agree it did cost McLaren some valuable points, but the situation could well have been reversed bar the spin.

    3. that’s right and McLaren should be fined 50 million and money given to Ferrari for all they drivers salaries…

      1. I don’t think 50 million will suffice GP1 ;) . They currently have Kimi,Massa,Fisi,Badoer,Gene,Alonso & Mr Veto as contracted drivers. Maybe you gotta add another zero to your quoted amount for ferrari to be pleased ;)

  23. Lewis is a racer and thats what they should do, race to the flag. He gave us a finish to the race by making Button push thus making Bar push. If LH gave up then the 2 Brawns would have turned everything down and the last 10 laps would have been a non event.

    Thanks for giving us a full RACE mclaren and Lewis, better luck next time.

  24. Chris

    will not get punishment for Hamilton because he is not fighting for championship and also because it makes no sense what you’re saying

    1. I was meant to be a joke, wasn’t it Chris??

      1. I would really like to know if he just got wheel wrong or if something in the rear broke. His exit on the other laps didnt look that different.
        I did like the fact that he continued to push Button for a better poition and that Button would respond with faster laps to keep him at bay.

        1. If you closely observe the CRASH You’ll be able to notice that the left front tire has excess amount of positive camber. Very strange indeed. very seldom do mechanics setup the suspension for positive camber. Now we know that negative camber improves grip when cornering, its is because it places the tire at an optimal angle to the road, transmitting the forces through the vertical plane of the tire, rather than through a shear force across it.Another reason for negative camber is that a rubber tire tends to roll on itself while cornering. Since Monza primarily comprises of straights, suspension has to be setup for maximum straight-line acceleration .The highest traction will be attained when the camber angle is zero and the tread is flat on the road, but since the mclaren mp4-24 uses double wishbone suspension, the camber angles can always be adjusted. Unlike the macpherson strut suspension, where it is usually fixed. Now to get through the Lesmo’s you need very high levels of mechanical grip. But the video suggests that the suspension setup was a positive camber one, so it would have meant losing too much grip coming out of the exit. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a suspension failure. Especially after examining that on-board shot, it seem highly likely.

          1. Losing grip on the left front tire due to excessive positive camber would cause understeer, not the oversteer that wrecked hamilton.

  25. The crash was deliberate and unprovoked.

    Hardly Singapore ;)
    Hamilton just fought until end of race that’s all like drivers are supposed to, he just stepped over the limit. You can’t fine or penalise them every time for of these things happen otherwise Piquet and Nakajima would have been fined every single time they crashed and would now be bankrupt.

  26. Interesting that Barrichello won, yet set only the second-fastest lap.

  27. The Piquetgate saga keeps on getting better. Now Symonds have reportedly been offered immunity by the FIA to come clean on the whole story. Meanwhile, Piquet Sr. gave an interview to a Spanish newspaper saying that he believes Alonso must have known what was going on…the reason? who would agree to a stupid strategy as the one he was racing on?
    PF1 is showing a rather cagey statement by Symonds to the FIA that has leaked on the internet – in it he refuses to answer key and direct questions about the incident.
    Keith: Do you have more info on it?

  28. Driver of the race: Rubens, for a fast consistent drive and getting the most out of his strategy. Also for taking points out of Button and tightening the gap.

    Honorable Mentions: Liuzzi, for proving he is worthy of a full-time drive. Fisi, for almost sneaking into points and being nowhere near as bad as Badoer. Lewis, for charging hard until the last lap and taking the risk. Brass balls.

    1. Fisi, for being nowhere near as bad as Badoer


  29. And which was the official version of the Lewis’s crash ?

  30. I mean “what”…

  31. Roginaldo Rebouças
    16th September 2009, 20:35

    What is happen? where is F1? Stop Briatore, Pat and Piquet Jnr

  32. If you want Kimi in Ferrari the next year, because he is a true champion and he must be respected. Help us by signing this petition

  33. If we didn’t have you we wouldn’t have known about Grosjean!

  34. If you want better racing right to the flag push for 2 points for fastest lap – that should do it?

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