Lewis Hamilton lost out on his second consecutive Formula One win at Valencia this afternoon after a mix-up with his tyres at his final pit stop.
Polesitter Hamilton comfortably led the early stages of the Valencia street race, until the world champion arrived in his pit box to find that there were no fresh tyres waiting for him – an extraordinary oversight that McLaren later blamed on a late decision to bring him in.
The ensuing delay meant that Rubens Barrichello, already charging on the track in a bid to jump Hamilton on his own merits, was now only an error-free pit stop away from the lead – a final service his Brawn team duly completed without problems.
Barrichello finally ended his five-year Formula One win drought at the European Grand Prix, after he drove flawlessly all afternoon and kept Hamilton under sufficient pressure to force a mistake that would assure him of victory.
The win catapulted the Brazilian driver back into the title fight after his championship-leading team mate Jenson Button endured another difficult race to finish in seventh position.
Button again found himself hard-pressed to just score points after a tardy start dropped him from fifth to ninth, the Briton eventually salvaging two points for seventh.
The Englishman spent the majority of the race behind main title rival Mark Webber, but jumped him at the final pit stops after the Australian hit traffic on his in-lap.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team