Will Gray

Technical Talk: Strategy success

Will Gray

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After getting the jump on Button at the start, Barrichello was left on the team's favoured three-stop strategy while Button was switched to a two-stop to ensure all bases were covered. But at the end of the race, it was the man on the second-choice strategy who took the chequered flag first.

"I don't know how the hell I lost that race, man," Barrichello said to Button, before pointing out his car was terrible on his third stint. Button retorted: "I didn't think it was going to work when they put me on a two-stopper...I'm excited that I won, but I feel for you, man."

Barrichello put himself ahead at the start, passing Button off the line and the pair were pretty even on lap times in the first stint. At that point, Brawn switched Button's strategy, concerned that if he stayed on a three-stopper he would be held up in traffic behind Nico Rosberg's Williams.

That meant Button would have to run a second race stint of 30 laps on a single set of soft tyres before his final stop, while Barrichello would have a second stint of 12 laps and a third of 19 laps before his final stop and the race to the finish.

Barrichello's all-important second race stint would see him driving a much lighter car compared to his team-mate and while his third would be back on similar fuel loads, the theory was that he would still benefit from fresher soft tyres and make up enough time to cover the extra pit stop.

Barrichello had to race hard every lap to make the strategy work, with a pit stop, including in-out laps, costing around 25 seconds. He was around a second per lap faster on the stint with a light car, but when in-out laps are included, he had gained just nine seconds and there was still much work to do.

With Button's soft tyres holding their own despite their age, the advantage expected from Barrichello's fresh tyres did not appear on his third stint and Barrichello was actually running slower than Button, who had a small benefit of being fuelled two laps lighter. Once both had made their final stops, Barrichello was seven seconds behind and Button's job was done.

Red Bull, meanwhile, suggested they had the faster car and although we will never know what Sebastien Vettel could have done had he not been stuck behind Massa all race after being out-dragged by the KERS Ferrari off the line, Button and Webber were on the same strategy and the Brawn always had the upper hand.

Ignoring the in-out laps, the first part of the race saw Button post faster times on 18 of the first 21 laps. From laps 26 to 47, the latter part of the second stint, the pair lapped within 0.2 seconds of each other on most laps, but on the final stint, again, Button outpaced Webber, posting faster times on every lap.

In his race with Barrichello, Webber was also slower on the first stint and lost out significantly during Barrichello's light-car stint, which saw the Brawn run up to 1.7 seconds faster than the Red Bull. When the pair made their final stops on the same lap, Barrichello came out almost three seconds ahead.

Had Vettel been in the frame, it may have been a different story, but with the game playing out the way it did, Brawn showed that while their second-choice strategy was actually the right one to take, either one was able to do the job.


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