Formula One: Barrichello, Button in Brawn 1-2 at Monza
MONZA: A beaming Rubens Barrichello made clear Sunday that he will push his Brawn GP team-mate and world championship leader Jenson Button all the way to the wire in this year''s title race after winning the Italian Grand Prix.
The 37-year-old Brazilian, who produced a beautifully measured drive from fifth on the grid to grab his second win of the season, said he was looking forward to a close tussle with his team-mate in the closing four races.
"This win feels great," said Barrichello. "Whatever happens now, I feel like this is a winning year. Don''t forget it was not so long ago that we thought we had no jobs, but now we have a fantastic car, a great engine and a fantastic team.
"I have to say I am feeling very good. Monza is always a great track for me and now I am going to give my best in a good and honest fight with this guy (Button) and I am really looking forward to it."
Barrichello''s 11th victory in a 284-race career was one of his happiest as he came home 2.8 seconds ahead of Button to turn the title race into an almost-certain fight for glory between just the two of them.
"I think we can prove now that in Formula One nice guys can win," said Barrichello. "This is the end to that old saying that only the tough guys can win titles."
Button, winner of six of the seven opening races of the season, remains on top with 80 points, but Barrichello is now second with 66 points, having cut his team-mate''s advantage from 16 to 14 points.
The Brawn pair look certain to deliver the constructors championship to their eponymous team-chief Ross Brawn in the outfit''s first season.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole, looked certain to come home third for McLaren Mercedes, but crashed heavily at the Curva di Lesmo on the final lap and failed to finish.
This left Kimi Raikkonen to take the third podium place for Ferrari ahead of Adrian Sutil of Force India, two times champion Fernando Alonso, who was fifth for Renault, and Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren.
"Every lap I was pushing like a qualifying lap - it was to be expected. We didn''t have the pace and I was pushing as hard as I could. I can only say I''m sorry to the team," said Hamilton.
Nick Heidfeld finished seventh for BMW Sauber and German compatriot Sebastian Vettel eighth for Red Bull, the young title challenger luckily grabbing his point after team-mate Mark Webber had crashed out following a collision with Robert Kubica''s BMW on the opening lap.
The fans had seen Hamilton make a perfect start from his 15th pole position and led the field down and through the Rettifilio Tribune, Raikkonen storming past Sutil into second place and Barrichello advancing from fifth to fourth.
Hamilton continued his fast opening surge with a series of fastest laps before he pitted after 15 laps with a lead of more than seven seconds.
On lap 17, Sutil pitted from second behind Raikkonen who in turn came in after a further two laps.
All of this early action meant the drivers on a two-stop strategy were in command with the two Brawns in control, Barrichello ahead of Button by 2.4 seconds, with Hamilton third.
Debutant Vitantonio Liuzzi, on a presumed one-stop strategy in the second Force India, was fourth at this stage ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso.
Hamilton struggled to keep pace with the Brawns before their pit stops and the Force Indias were also proving a match for the Ferraris until Liuzzi suffered a mechanical failure on lap 22.
Button was the first Brawn to pit from second and a 12-sec advantage on Hamilton after 28 laps with Barrichello following a lap later.
With all of the leaders having pitted once, Hamilton led Raikkonen and Sutil ahead of Barrichello and Button, but the Briton''s advantage was only 5.6 seconds.
Hamilton made his second stop after 33 laps when he led by more than 16 seconds, but he rejoined fifth behind the two Brawn men.
Raikkonen and Sutil then came in together after 36 laps, the Force India driver arriving with such velocity that he sent one mechanic flying.
He appeared to be unhurt. Raikkonen seemed to stall before rejoining, gifting Sutil an opportunity he was unable to take.
This left Barrichello leading ahead of Button by 5.4 seconds with Hamilton third a further 2.9 seconds adrift with 15 laps to go, with those placings remaining until Hamilton''s last lap disaster.