Felipe Massa is forced to brake: the visits he underwent on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 October 2009 in Paris are not the official ones that the FIA requires to authorize a driver to return to the track after a serious accident. Ferrari specifies through an official press release:
"These were informal medical tests defined as rather positive, but not such as to recommend the performance of competitive practice in the next two months".
Thus the last hope of seeing the Brazilian back on track in Abu Dhabi collapses, in the final Grand Prix of the 2009 season. The recovery path from the accident of 25 July 2009, in Hungary, is still long. On Monday 12 July 2009, on the Fiorano circuit, Felipe Massa will be driving an F2007 (the World Champion single-seater also used for the Michael Schumacher test in August two years ago) with Bridgestone GP2 tyres.
"He will not look at the stopwatch. This is simply a way to allow Felipe to get back in touch with his natural environment: the track".
We will talk about a return to racing in 2010: only then will the medical checks required by the FIA to certify the suitability of the driver be officially carried out.
"The actual tests will take place next year when, together with Alonso, Felipe will begin development work on the new car".
Felipe Massa will in any case leave following the team for the Brazilian Grand Prix, in Sao Paulo, scheduled for Sunday 18 October 2009. Everything is as before, except for that left eye that is still a bit bruised and no longer symmetrical, but which he sees perfectly. Felipe Massa and Ferrari meet at Fiorano, the private track of the Maranello team which extends near the sports management sheds. The Brazilian driver recounts in the middle of the day:
"I resumed a normal life, I exercised, I drove karts and I knew 95 per cent that even in a Formula 1 car nothing had changed. But there was that 5% that worried me. I had to prove myself. This was the only way to get rid of a burden".
The exam begins at 10:30 a.m.: engine running and a shiver among the hundreds of people scattered behind the nets that delimit the facility. The Brazilian driver completed an installation lap at the wheel of an F2007, the single-seater that had won the World Championship two years earlier, the maximum permitted by the regulations for a test. Short break, then four laps. Long stop ("To remove the traction control") and nine consecutive laps interrupted by a downpour. Lunch break and back on track as soon as the asphalt dries. In the end there will be a hundred kilometers traveled.
"But I was able to tackle two grands prix in a row".
There won't be a sequel in the next two months: the dream of returning to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in extremis has faded, because the doctors who examined him in Paris found him fit, but unfit for competition. Reason: The skull fracture has not yet healed perfectly.
"If I take another hit it will be serious. It's not worth taking any risks, especially since we're not fighting for the world title".
At the end of the session, Felipe Massa left Malpensa to return to his San Paolo, together with the team. In Brazil they will give him a little treat: waving the checkered flag at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, which will be held in Interlagos. And he, almost annoyed, says:
Seventy nine days have passed since that accursed July 25, 2009. From coma to as if nothing had happened. From the impact against a stray spring to the obsessive desire to get back into the game. The budget:
"Mechanics and engineers were thrilled. I'm the usual bastard".
Among the fans in Maranello, there is also Jean Alesi, to test the F430 Gt2 today. The French certifies the goodness of the test:
"He You can see and feel from where he brakes and from how he changes gears that Felipe is back to what he was before. As a driver, I'm not surprised: I'm happy".
The topics, for Felipe, are many: his teammate, the future, the sense of danger.
"With Kimi there has never been a friendly relationship, because he is a strange guy and has his own way of life, but we worked well together".
"Same thing: he doesn't come here to become my best friend. In the past I raced with Heidfeld, Fisichella, Villeneuve and Schumacher, and I had a good professional relationship with all of them".
During this week of full immersion in Maranello, Felipe Massa checked the progress of the works on the 2010 single-seater:
"I attended a three and a half hour meeting and visited the wards. I liked what I saw".
Then the memory of the dark days after the accident: his memory stops a few moments before the impact and he resumes in the hospital, the moment he wakes up from the pharmacological coma.
"If I had passed a second later at the Hungaroring on 25 July, nothing would have happened, if the impact had occurred a centimeter further I would have lost an eye. Let's leave the ifs alone and move on".
A single topic today took away Massa's smile: the premeditated accident in Singapore, starring Nelson Piquet Jr. and Renault.
"I fought for that title, I gave my heart, I lost in the last corner and now I find that many things would have happened differently. I'll try to win in 2010, but I won't forget".
Two days later, Wednesday 14 October 2009, during a meeting with journalists in a restaurant in Sao Paulo, Felipe Massa said he was absolutely certain that Fernando Alonso, his Ferrari partner in 2010, was aware of Nelson Piquet Jr.'s fake accident in Singapore. However, those who predicted sparks between Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in 2010 are immediately denied. The two are already starting to fight, two and a half months before officially becoming teammates. After making heavy accusations again about the crash simulated by Nelson Piquet Jr. in Singapore 2008, cold-heartedly aware of the mistake, Felipe Massa explains:
"I'm not sure, it was just a feeling".
He is left with the worm of doubt, now a catchphrase of the last month. Fernando Alonso does not respond to the accusations:
"We need to see what he really said, maybe it was a misunderstanding. However, my relationship with him will not change. The World Council has ascertained that I had nothing to do with that incident, so let's not talk about it anymore".
The two will meet on Friday 16 October 2009 in the paddock of the Interlagos circuit, where the fate of the World Championship could be decided on Sunday 18 October 2009, given that Jenson Button only needs six points to win the world helmet, and Brawn GP only needs one to win the Constructors' World Championship in its debut season. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have no intention of clarifying each other, given that one has retracted and the other wants to avoid the subject, but they are trying to be friends. The Spanish driver says:
"Why shouldn't we succeed? We have similar characters".
Messages of affection follow:
"I have nothing against him. We had a couple of duels in 2007, in Barcelona and at the Nurburgring, but we made peace. And last year I cheered for him to win and I was sorry that it went badly for him".
Behind the sentences of circumstance, however, the fight for leadership in Ferrari begins. Neither of the two is able to take advantage on the track in this season finale: one is still recovering after being hit on the head in Budapest on Saturday 25 July 2009, the other is honoring the contract that binds him to Renault until 31 December 2009. Since Michael Schumacher's time in Maranello there are no pre-established hierarchies: Felipe Massa enjoys esteem and sympathy, as well as knowing the team's mechanisms, the other brings a strong dowry charisma and send heavy messages:
"I want to put Ferrari back on the road to success and world titles. Felipe and I will form a great team together with the mechanics, the technicians, Domenicali, the president".
Fernando Alonso does not forget anyone, he talks about the Ferrari family and memorizes article 1 of the constitution of the Maranello team:
"The group counts more than individuals".
Friday 16 October 2009 Felipe Massa will return to a racetrack for the first time since the accident, and Sunday 18 October 2009 will wave the checkered flag. It is again Fernando Alonso to welcome him:
"What matters is that he is well and has recovered 100%".
What will you talk about?
"I'll ask him how Ferrari behaves at the beginning. His advice will help me adapt quickly".
To find a place in Formula 1 you have to be very good or very rich. But sometimes talent is not enough. In fact, it can be counterproductive. Let's imagine a team that orbits around its champion: McLaren with Lewis Hamilton, for example. And suppose the same team is looking for a second driver who actually wants to be first, for example Kimi Raikkonen. It may happen that one doesn't like the other, especially if he has already had bad experiences with his teammate, who in 2007 was Fernando Alonso. Quite a problem. If the negotiations between the Finn and the English team got stuck when it seemed finished, it is probably not only due to a difference of views on the contractual clauses. The problem is that Kimi Raikkonen does not like Lewis Hamilton. The reigning World Champion, who has already gotten along well with the harmless Heikki Kovalainen, promoted the candidacy of Adrian Sutil, the only friend he has in F1, an honest professional behind the wheel whose contract with Force India is about to expire. Part of the team is on Lewis Hamilton's side, while negotiations with Kimi Raikkonen are languishing. The Finn, used to enjoying a certain freedom at Ferrari, a sort of severance pay and recognition for his past successes, has upped the ante. First of all, he would like to receive the salary that the Maranello team owes him for the whole of 2010, around 30.000.000 euros, from which bonuses must be deducted (he would like to close around 20.000.000 euros), and at the same time collect the money for a new team. Taking into account that Banco Santander, sponsor of both Ferrari and McLaren, should pay both amounts, it is clear that the request appears difficult to grant. The second obstacle concerns the freedom to race in rallies. Kimi Raikkonen, in the summer, was allowed by the Maranello team to participate in the Rally of Finland, while in Woking they do not intend to risk injuries. Third point: the days available to sponsors. A torture for the person concerned. McLaren is asking for a greater commitment than Ferrari, and the driver has balked. It's his character, he certainly won't change it at 30. On Friday morning the Finn meets Felipe Massa, who is setting foot on a racetrack for the first time since the terrible accident in Budapest, and carries on. When asked about the future, the Finn replies:
His goal is a team with ambition and resources. Like Toyota. An offer has come from the Japanese, who are looking for a competitive driver. The technical guarantees are not those of McLaren, but they represent an honorable plan B. Another option is Brawn GP, which however is very close to Nico Rosberg and should reconfirm Jenson Button, who could win the World Championship in Sao Paulo on Sunday with one race to spare. Kimi Raikkonen does not even rule out an escape from F1: the American Nascar, or precisely the Rally, could be the next destination. Also because there are some free steering wheels around, but only in rookie teams, who don't give the drivers money: they ask for it. Bruno Senna, with that surname, counts on good sponsors and is close to Campos. Vitaly Petrov, Russian, sponsored by the phone company MegaFon, can bring $15.000.000 in dowry. Even Nelson Piquet Jr., rich in family, is close to a sensational return to the Manor, despite having confessed to having caused the Singapore incident in 2008. Malicious insinuate that his engagement will be the reward for the revelations that led to the expulsion of Flavio Briatore. But to think badly is a sin. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa say goodbye in the Interlagos paddock, in the interval between the two free practice sessions.
It is the first meeting between the two since Ferrari announced the signing of the Spaniard. The two exchange a few words. Felipe Massa says:
"How is it going?"
And Fernando Alonso replies:
"Here not too good".
Neither of them mentions the controversy surrounding Nelson Piquet Jr.'s accident in Singapore in 2008. There are twenty cars in one second in free practice at Interlagos. In FP2 Fernando Alonso set the best time, lapping his Renault in 1'12''314. The worst is Giancarlo Fisichella, who laps in 1'13''275. The three drivers battling to win the World Championship are late. Rubens Barrichello is third, Jenson Button is fifth, Sebastian Vettel is seventh. Kimi Raikkonen sets the eighteenth fastest time. And in the meantime, there is some tension at the Red Bull Racing team's garage, as Mark Webber says he won't help Sebastian Vettel. Formula 1 has never thought of a psychologist, nor has Jenson Button ever thought he had to resort to one. An error. That fear of making a mistake combined with the obsession with being prudent, with settling for the point instead of attempting the feat, is demolishing it one piece at a time. In the rain it has never been a phenomenon, but 0.9 seconds behind his teammate is too much: to win, it's not enough to be normal. Jenson Button will start behind Kamui Kobayashi, Kazuki Nakajima, Jaime Alguersuari, in fourteenth position. Fourteen, like the pole positions of Rubens Barrichello and like the points advantage he has over his team mate. The only consolation is that the most feared opponent, Sebastian Vettel, manages to do even worse. The German qualifies in P16. But with the rain he is possessed and if he finds water along the circuit in the race he is capable of climbing up to the podium.
This is the only comment from the British Brawn GP driver. Qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix is Rubens Barrichello's apotheosis: the first pole of the season, moreover in front of his crowd. The longest Saturday in F1 history lasts two hours and 43 minutes. The deluge diluted the many emotions: the spin of Giancarlo Fisichella, who qualified in last position, that of Lewis Hamilton, eighteenth, the mistake of desperation by Sebastian Vettel, the accident of Vitantonio Liuzzi which prompted the race stewards to interrupt the second session while waiting for the rain to subside. The last ten minutes are dedicated to the show by Rubens Barrichello, who snatches the best time from Mark Webber in extremis.
"The fans remained in the stands despite the rain. I hope I have rewarded them".
In recent days he has surrounded himself with his loved ones, his wife, children, parents, friends, all crammed into the tiny boxes of Interlagos. Jenson Button, on the other hand, left his girlfriend Jessica Michibata at home to better concentrate. Rubens Barrichello continues:
"I am proud of what I have done so far. I never thought Button and Vettel would be so far behind".
He has never won at Interlagos: in 2003 he ran out of petrol when he was leading because he thought it a good idea to do one more lap than expected before the pit stop, in 2004 he obtained the last pole position of a career which would decline from then on. Since last summer he has returned to thinking about that old project: to become World Champion. At 37 years old. No one had ever taken him too seriously. Now it's time to listen to him, given that in Interlagos he can recover up to ten points on his teammate and arrive in the sprint in Abu Dhabi, where his nerves will make the difference. And those of Jenson Button appear increasingly fragile.
"It has never happened to me to ride in conditions like this. From the pits they kept changing my strategy: Take a lap and come back. No, do two in a row. In the end there were four, and the good one was the fourth".
Rubens Barrichello is a rain wizard. His first success dates back to 2000, the Hockenheim circuit, in a comeback from eighteenth place driving in the final on water with dry tires. It was the first of six seasons at Ferrari in the shadow of Michael Schumacher before moving to Honda, which is now called Brawn GP and in Brazil can claim victory in the Constructors' World Championship, if he scores even just one point. For the time of the race, the Brazilian meteorologists predict good weather. Also on Saturday, however, no rainfall was expected, while then a monsoon unleashed. Rubens Barrichello would prefer a quiet, dry race. Alongside is Mark Webber, who is a danger. Behind he has Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli. Kimi Raikkonen, who could have bothered him with Kers, is fifth. Lewis Hamilton is eighteenth. For Rubens Barrichello it is a date with history. Meanwhile, his former teammate, Michael Schumacher, now a restless pensioner dealing with the infirmities of the forty-year-old who didn't miss anything and the eagerness to get back into the game, raises the challenge. As soon as his neck pains are gone, he will prepare to return. More than the farewell three years ago, it weighed on him not being able to replace the injured Felipe Massa:
"I received many expressions of support and sympathy, which moved me greatly and transformed my return into a special mission".
That was the right occasion: no expectations, a lot of gratitude, the image of savior of the country without excessive responsibilities. His vertebrae didn't hold up. But that taste of adrenaline during a test, with all the routine of the good old days, from getting dressed to communicating with the pits, from searching for the limit to studying telemetry, rekindled the desire. He missed the ritual. Like smokers trying to quit.
"I was happy to try it again".
And he adds, so that the intentions are clear:
"I see no reason to give up permanently. Why should I?"
He has even lost his reputation as a great obnoxious:
"Early in my career I was portrayed as a robot, an unapproachable guy. Sometimes I wonder what happened in the meantime".
The German wants to have fun, he seeks emotions, and some crazy things are part of these too. Climbing, parachuting, motorcycle racing that left deep scars. Now he wants to open a new chapter.
"I don't have to become Ferrari's racing director to have a full life, but it is clear that one time or another I will have to do something new".
Question: where and how? In Maranello the door is always open for him. The contract is freshly renewed, but does not include competitive activities in F1. Ferrari insists that each team has the right to field a third single-seater: for 2010 it is almost impossible, in 2011 we will see. If so, the place belongs to Michael Schumacher. Second option: Sauber has re-emerged from the ashes of BMW, which will have Ferrari engines and a privileged relationship with the Maranello team (assuming its registration is accepted: at the moment it is the fourteenth team, while the regulation provides for a maximum of thirteen). Giancarlo Fisichella could race there, to keep trained in case he is called to replace Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa. And no one would be surprised if one day Michael Schumacher showed up on the circuit, with cowboy jeans, boots, improbable shirts. And a suitcase with helmet and overalls. Sunday 18 October 2009, at the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello got off to a good start and kept the first position, as did Kimi Räikkönen who made the most of the Kers. The first round is characterized by many twists and turns. Heikki Kovalainen forces Giancarlo Fisichella, after contact with Sebastian Vettel, onto the grass at the rear, while Kimi Räikkönen damages his front wing in contact with Mark Webber. Contact also occurs between Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli: both are forced to retire with the German's car going off the track and then rejoining it, now undriveable, and hits Fernando Alonso's car, also forcing the Spaniard to retire. Trulli then blatantly complained to Sutil about the manoeuvre, thus being sanctioned. The two Finns return to the pits, but Heikki Kovalainen's car restarts again with the petrol filler plugged in. The petrol spilled on the pit lane catches fire as Kimi Räikkönen passes, but he can continue the race. Kovalainen stops at the end of the pit lane to allow the technicians to remove the filler. He will then be penalized, at the end of the race, by twenty-five seconds for this manoeuvre. The first lap incidents brought the safety car to the track, again with Rubens Barrichello in first position.
At the restart, Robert Kubica overtook Nico Rosberg and moved up to third place, while in the rear it was Jenson Button who livened up the race with some good overtaking against Romain Grosjean and Kazuki Nakajima, who brought him back into the points. However, he fails to pass the rookie Kamui Kobayashi, who maintains his sixth position without worries. The first four pick up the pace, not allowing Rubens Barrichello to create a gap against Mark Webber, who started with more fuel on board; fifth is the excellent Sébastien Buemi. Rubens Barrichello pitted on lap 21, leaving the lead to Mark Webber who quickly built up a safety margin to be able to stop five laps later and maintain first position. The Brazilian, who was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel on lap 22, also found himself behind Robert Kubica, who was being chased by the comeback Lewis Hamilton, who made his first stop during the safety car. During lap 25 Jenson Button finally overtook Kamui Kobayashi with another nice pass at Senna's S, before pitting during lap 29 to make his first stop. The Englishman then gains a further position due to the retirement of Nico Rosberg, who stops during lap 27 due to a gearbox problem. Subsequently, on lap 33, Jenson Button also passed Sebastien Buemi at the first corner, thus moving up to seventh position, behind Kimi Raikkonen. Meanwhile, Kamui Kobayashi, coming out of the pits, is the protagonist of a contact with his compatriot Kazuki Nakajima. The Williams driver has the worst, who is forced to retire after a spectacular exit from the track. Sebastian Vettel, who had moved up to second place, made his first stop in the middle of the race, returning behind Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, fourth and fifth, pit for a second stop with thirty laps remaining in the race. The second series of refueling carried out by the leading drivers does not change the standings, with Mark Webber remaining in first position, ahead of Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello. Jenson Button instead loses a position to Sebastian Vettel, but manages to stay ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. With ten laps remaining in the race, Rubens Barrichello was passed by Lewis Hamilton, and subsequently returned to the pits due to a puncture, which dropped him in the standings to eighth place.
Mark Webber wins the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Australian driver preceded Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastien Buemi and Rubens Barrichello to the finish line.
"Guys, I'm World Champion".
He repeats it, shouts it, whispers it because he is the first to not realize it yet. Jenson Button is World Champion. It took him the first seven races to build up an enormous advantage and the following eight to squander it, devoured by the fear of winning. On Saturday afternoon the world collapsed on him after a painful qualifying, the umpteenth. In the race he shook off the rubble. He overtook. He took his risks. He intelligently managed the end of the race. And in the end he crossed the finish line yelling and gesturing like a tarantula, while Felipe Massa waved the checkered flag. It ended with a race to spare. Too bad for Abu Dhabi, the next stage, the Grand Prix in the desert with the start at sunset and the arrival in the night: the result will be of no interest to anyone. Honor to the most criticized World Champion of the last fifteen years.
"It's true, at the beginning of the championship I was faster. But it's the car's fault, not mine. I've read the criticisms: it's not true that I'm afraid. I made mistakes in qualifying, but in the race I always kept a very high pace. I gave my all".
In the heart of the British, Jenson Button is not worth Lewis Hamilton, all right, but driving at 300 km/h is always a feat.
"You throw the last few races in my face, the difficult ones. Why don't you ask me how I won six of the first seven?"
He says it smiling, without a polemical spirit. After the finish line, the emotional embrace of his father and the sporty and embittered embrace of Rubens Barrichello, his teammate, await him. Then the party with the mechanics and rivers of champagne. Only Jessica is missing, her girlfriend, who stayed at home so as not to distract her husband.
"I'm late to success because I've only had a competitive single-seater this year".
Twenty-nine years is a long time in this F1 that churns out baby phenomena still with pimples. He had been too, at least in his debut. It was 2000, he was twenty years old, he was driving the legendary Williams in Melbourne: sixth place and unanimous congratulations to the youngest British driver in history. Jenson decided to reward himself by buying a yacht, like the grown-ups do. Years later, shaken by reading Lance Armstrong's autobiography, he would recite the mea culpa, but in the meantime Juan Pablo Montoya took his place in 2001 and he had to move to Benetton-Renault, then to BAR, to make way for Fernando Alonso, who over time would become Honda and, this year, Brawn GP. These are gray years. In 2004 he collected some good results, but BAR was disqualified for three races due to a fraudulent tank. In 2006 he won his first success in Hungary, then again anonymity.
"Experience has taught me that being fast is not enough: you need a great team".
In his resume there is also a contractual problem: he signs again for Williams, then he repents and pays the penalty out of his own pocket to stay at Honda: 15.000.000 euros divided into comfortable instalments of 5.000.000 euros a year. It will be his luck.
Brawn grows silently during the winter, on the ashes of Honda which decides to leave the Circus overnight to cut costs. Jenson looks back on those moments:
"When I think about it, it's incredible. I risked being unemployed".
To embrace Ross Brawn's project, you gave up the sumptuous contract with the Japanese house: from 20,000,000 to 10,000,000 euros, 50% discount. Today he is right to argue that certain satisfactions are priceless. And he talks about the race:
"The first corner I tried to keep out of trouble. Then I had to let go of caution and attack. My point of reference was Barrichello. I had to stay close to him".
The hardest moments?
"The overtaking on Kobayashi. He is someone who changes trajectory suddenly. I braked at the last minute then passed him. I had no choice: Rubens was second, I needed fifth place".
In the end Jenson almost apologizes:
"When you become the eternal placed you risk being boring. But I am the World Champion. Wow".
The flames, the insults on the track, overtaking and accidents. The 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix is one of those races to keep in your home video library. Last year it was the rain that changed history, taking away Felipe Massa and giving it to Lewis Hamilton. Now, however, the fire, a scary flash of a couple of seconds in the pit lane that scares Kimi Raikkonen. Almost everything happens in the first round: the director is forced to jump from one shot to another, from one fight to the next. Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari triggers the first episode: the Finnish driver starts fast, recovers two positions and attacks Mark Webber, rear-ending him. A whisker of the front wing splits. The Finn returns to the pits together with Heikki Kovalainen, protagonist of another carambola. Both need to replace the nose. The position is played out on the edge of tenths of a second and McLaren makes the mistake that was fatal to the Maranello team in Singapore a year ago: the driver gets the go-ahead too early and restarts with the refueling pipe attached. Immediately behind is Kimi Raikkonen, who is doused with petrol and enveloped in a cloud of fire.
"I didn't get scared, because the suit protected me and the flames immediately went out. The problem is, I got gas in my eyes. I still feel it burning now".
Kovalainen pulls over at the end of the pit lane: the Brawn mechanics extract the hose from the filler and allow him to restart. If Felipe Massa had received a similar courtesy a year ago, perhaps he would have won the championship, but that's another story. In the meantime, anything goes on the track. Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil collide, exit one to the right and the other to the left, get out of the car and reunite. Judging by the animosity, they also exchange a few details about their respective mothers and sisters.
This is Adrian Sutil's story:
"Jarno is crazy. If he has something to say, he'll come and talk to my face. He can't be convinced he's right after coming into the corner like there's no one else".
The Italian driver replies:
"He IS an idiot and I can't explain myself to an idiot. He arrived like a madman, he crushed me against the barriers, I managed to crawl without crashing with a maneuver".
The marshals filed the episode, in which Alonso was also involved, as a normal racing incident, but fined Jarno Trulli for not immediately leaving the track: 10.000 euros. Heikki Kovalainen is also fined €50.000 and a 25-second penalty which is useless, given that the McLaren driver was already out of the points. Other emotions are given by the Japanese Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi, substitute for the injured Timo Glock. A nice rear-end collision on the straight on the verge of 300 km/h. Nakajima crashes, Kobayashi carries on. It's lap 32. Jenson Button is only halfway there. After embracing and thanking the team, Jenson Button retires to his hotel room in Sao Paulo on Sunday evening, in solitude.
"Most of the drivers in my place would have a good night. I prefer to be on my own".
His victory didn't ruin the friendship with Rubens Barrichello, who was defeated in front of his own audience. Indeed, the Brazilian pilot offers his teammate a lift on his own private plane to allow him to celebrate with the team and family. In fact, Button was supposed to leave for England on Sunday, after the race, on a scheduled flight. Meanwhile, Flavio Briatore launches his counterattack against the FIA. On Monday 19 October 2009, through a French law firm, the former general manager of Renault announces that on Tuesday he will present a complaint to the Tribunal de Grande Instance (the headquarters for civil cases) in Paris to contest the decision taken by the FIA which had expelled him for life from F1. The facts are known: the Italian manager was found guilty of organizing and carrying out the voluntary crash of Nelson Piquet Jr. in Singapore in 2008 to let Alonso win. Briatore bases his action for violation of the rights of defence. He believes that he was summoned late, that there was no indication of the charges and that he did not have access to the trial documents. In addition, in his opinion the judges were not impartial, and all legal procedures were violated. He asks for the condemnation of the FIA, the annulment of the measures taken and also reserves the right to obtain financial compensation of around 1.000.000 euros. And he declares:
"It was one man's revenge".