A thrilling Italian Grand Prix saw Rubens Barrichello
take his second victory of the season from Brawn Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button
after making best of a one stop strategy to edge ahead of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton with his two stop strategy. The cat and mouse game continued
throughout much of the race with the Brazilian veteran eventually taking the position, leaving Hamilton to chase down Button before the defending champion crashed out on the very final lap.
The start saw Hamilton quickly establish a lead at the front of the field but the McLaren star was only able to pull out 17 seconds on the one stopping Ė fourth placed - Barrichello by his first stop. Barrichello made best of his lightening fuel load following Hamiltonís stop to extend his advantage and that was enough to ensure he took the lead once he made his one and only pitstop and Hamilton took his second.
It was a flawless drive from Barrichello as he took the chequered flag ahead of championship leader and Brawn team-mate Button by three seconds, but it was the battle for second that dominated the closing stages of the race.
Button had the pace to stay with race leader Barrichello but had Hamilton closing fast behind. The final laps saw Hamilton pushing hard to get close to the rear of the Brawn but the final lap saw him run a little wide through the first Lesmo. The McLaren snapped right and crashed heavily into the retaining tyre wall on the inside. Hamilton, set for third, was finally classified in 12th.
Barrichelloís win closes the gap in the championship to Button down to 14 points with four races remaining while Red Bull Renault drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are now effectively out of the championship running . Kimi Raikkonen
took third in his Ferrari as he picked up the final podium position courtesy of Hamiltonís demise. The Ferrari driver made a good start from third on the grid to pass Adrian Sutilís Force India Mercedes. He was unable to run at Hamiltonís pace at the front however and while he was able to fend off Sutil, he lost position to both Brawn racerís with his two stop strategy.
Sutil challenged Raikkonen throughout the race but was never able to get close enough to challenge for the position. The German racer finished in fourth position, just four-tenths of a second behind Raikkonen and in doing so records his - fully deserved - first points of the season. Fernando Alonso
made best of Renault KERS at the start and the errors of Heikki Kovalainen to finish fifth ahead of the second McLaren driver.
Kovalainen started in fourth position but the first lap saw him passed first by Barrichello and Button mid-lap and then Alonso. Significantly, he was unable to replicate the form of Barrichello on a similar strategy and sixth position was a disappointing result.
While McLaren will be frustrated with Kovalainenís opening stint, they will also be unhappy to see Hamilton crash out whilst running third. The consolation for the Woking-based team is that at least the British racer was giving it his all Ė something the conservative Kovalainen seems unable to replicate in race conditions. Nick Heidfeld
took advantage of an error from Sebastian Vettel to claim seventh position in his BMW Sauber while team-mate Robert Kubica was an early retirement with an oil leak on his F1.09. For Red Bull Renault, the race started badly with Mark Webber and Kubica getting together at the second chicane forcing Webber into retirement. Vettel looked set to hold off Heidfeld in the closing stages before running wide at the second Lesmo and dropping behind. Vettel is now 26 points behind Button and all but out of the championship running. Giancarlo Fisichella
had a low key debut with Ferrari to finish in ninth ahead of Kazuki Nakajima in the leading Williams Toyota. Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli
and Nakajima all battled hard in the closing stages before the Toyota duo got a little too close with Trulli taking an off-track excursion and dropping behind Sebastien Buemi at the chequered flag. Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg brought up the rear for Renault and Williams.
There were four retirements other than Hamiltonís last lap incident with Webber and Kubica early victims. Alguersuari ran at the back in the second Toro Rosso after starting from the pit lane before retiring, but Tonio Liuzzi made a strong impression on his return to the sport as he ran as high as fourth before a gearbox problem saw the Force India stop on circuit.
The action resumes under the artificial lights in Singapore and it seems we now have a straight Brawn-battle for championship honours.