The fight for this year’s Formula One world title is effectively now a two-man battle after Rubens Barrichello led home world championship leader Jenson Button for a Brawn GP one-two in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
In taking his second win of the season, and 11th of his career, the 37-year-old Brazilian has now closed the gap on team-mate Button down to just 14 points. With Mark Webber crashing out on the opening lap and Sebastian Vettel claiming just a solitary point, the Red Bull duo are now 26 and 28.5 points adrift of Button with four races remaining. Drivers standings after 13 races Lewis Hamilton should have joined Barrichello and Button on the podium, but the world champion dramatically crashed out on the final lap as he chased down his fellow-Briton. With Hamilton currently 53 points behind Button, it means his reign as world champion is at an end, with nothing but pride to race for in Singapore, Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Hamilton’s second successive smash, after his opening-lap drama in Belgium two weeks ago, elevated Kimi Raikkonen into third for Ferrari. That was naturally to the delight of the home fans, with the Finn finishing narrowly ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil as the German collected his first points for the team.
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Barrichello told reporters: “It feels great. On the chequered flag, at the end, I had no words. But it was a tough night because I didn’t know if we would have to change our gearbox before the race (which would have led to a five-place grid penalty). “The race was great and it was brilliant to see all the public out there even if they were more red of Ferrari than white of Brawn GP.” On the podium for the first time in six races, Button was also smiling as he said: “It’s nice to be back up here with second position. “I’d rather be where Rubens is, but he deserved it because he did a great job, and he’s now my closest rival after taking another seven points out of Vettel.” Renault’s Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren and BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld were the other drivers to collect points for fifth, sixth and seventh positions.