On this day in 2009 – Jenson Button victory at Spanish GP causes Brawn friction

Jenson Button continued a stellar start to the Formula One season with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on this day in 2009, but not everyone in his Brawn GP team was happy about the outcome.

Button’s win at the Circuit de Catalunya, where he finished just ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello, made it four victories in the first five races of a season that ended with him being crowned drivers’ champion.

But Barrichello made it clear he was dissatisfied with the manner of his colleague’s success in Spain, suggesting the Briton had been prioritised by the team and even going as far as threatening to quit unless he could compete on a level playing field.

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Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were Brawn team-mates (Honda F1 Racing handout/PA)

Button was overtaken by Barrichello on the first corner and spent 18 laps behind, only for team principal Ross Brawn to intervene and switch him to a two-stop strategy in the pit lane.

The Brazilian, meanwhile, was kept on a three-stop plan which covered the bases for the team but ultimately cost him the chance of personal glory.

While Button topped the podium, the frustration of his team-mate was the talk of the paddock afterwards.

“If I get a whiff of team orders I will hang up my helmet on the spot,” Barrichello said.

“I’m very experienced and if that happens I won’t follow any team orders any more. I’m making it clear now so everybody knows. It’s in my own best interests to learn what went wrong today because I have the ability to have won the race, but I didn’t.

“We were both on three stops, then they changed the strategy for him, which is good for him, and good for the team we were one and two, but I’d like to understand why we changed that. We’ll have a meeting, and then we’ll have some answers.”

Brawn insisted there was no hierarchy at play but it was not the end of the tension. At the German Grand Prix in July, Barrichello accused the team of costing him victory.

Barrichello went on to win two grands prix, but missed the chance of a season-ending challenge for the title after picking up a puncture in the penultimate race of the year.