How Button lost to Rubens

Jenson Button and BAR appeared a little shell-shocked by the pace of the Ferraris in the second half of the Italian Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher robbing the British pairing of their respective maiden victories

How Button lost to Rubens

When Button crossed the line at the end of lap 30, with 23 laps remaining, he had a 26.98s advantage over Barrichello and they both had one pitstop left to do. But by lap 43, with both stops completed, Rubens was 4.8s ahead of the BAR. The Ferrari had taken almost 32s out of Jenson in just 13 laps. It was the kind of speed that had BAR boss David Richards talking about 'shark attacks' and Ferraris appearing out of nowhere.

A look at the lap times reveals how it was done.

Button's best lap (1m22.671s) was 1.62s slower than Barrichello's best (1m21.046s) and so, on average, natural pace accounted for 21s. The rest came from Barrichello running lighter than the BAR for eight of the relevant laps, plus benefiting from a shorter final fuel stop.

The surprise was the size of the average lap deficit and, that, partly, was down to rain washing the track clean on race morning. A 'green' circuit tends to favour Bridgestones over Michelins.

"The track conditions obviously changed," acknowledged Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier, "and curiously we were unable to get close to the kind of times we set during the first two days of the meeting."

Further evidence that this was a Bridgestone day was Giancarlo Fisichella's Sauber setting the fourth fastest lap (1m22.615s), quicker than every Michelin runner bar Antonio Pizzonia.

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