• Australian GP

Button takes dominant debut victory for Brawn

ESPNF1 Staff
March 29, 2009
Button and Barrichello celebrate a Brawn one-two © Getty Images
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Jenson Button took a dominant victory ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello at the Australian Grand Prix, giving Brawn GP a one-two finish in their debut race. Button never looked under pressure despite having his lead slashed twice by safety car periods.

The race finished behind the safety car after the battle for second position between Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica ended in a collision. In the closing stages Vettel made a small error on his worn option tyres at the first turn, lost momentum, and headed to turn three neck-and-neck with Kubica's BMW Sauber.

Vettel, obviously keen to retain the position, was not going to give in without a fight but went in too deep eliminating himself and Kubica within sight of the chequered flag. This allowed the recovering Barrichello through into second position for a dream Brawn Mercedes result and cost Red Bull Renault at least six valuable championship points.

Following Jarno Trulli's disappointment after qualifying, he put in a great drive from the pit lane to finish third in his Toyota, while team-mate Timo Glock took the chequered flag in fifth position after a long battle with double world champion Fernando Alonso.

But there was a sting in the tail for Toyota. Following the chequered flag and the podium celebrations, Trulli was found guilty of passing Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car. The Italian veteran was handed a 12-second penalty dropping him from third position to 12th.

Hamilton started the 58-lap race from 18th position following his gearbox issues in qualifying and made great progress on the option tyre in the opening laps. As Ferrari, Vettel and Kubica slipped up the 2008 race winner and defending champion found himself in a sensational fourth position at the flag and then third after the stewards' enquiry.

McLaren Mercedes may not have a great package as yet with the MP4-24, but Hamilton proved himself yet again with an impressive drive on a day when few thought a top-ten result, let alone points, could be possible.

Alonso finished in sixth position, later to become fifth, after a quiet day by his very high standards. Indeed it was Nelson Piquet Jnr who led the way for the Renault team for much of the race, before locking his brakes and spinning into retirement following the first safety car period. It was a shame as the Brazilian had raced well until that point.

Nico Rosberg could well have finished in second position in his Williams Toyota, but a slow pitstop and then a problem with the FW31 in the closing stages saw him drop down to seventh position at the chequered flag. Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima ran well in the points in the early stages before clipping the kerbs exiting turn four and spinning his Williams into the left hand side retaining wall and out of the race.

Nakajima's accident played nicely into the hands of the Ferrari team, as the safety car was deployed after his accident. Following early pitstops, the safety car closed up the field and it looked for a time as if both Massa and Raikkonen were back in contention for a podium position. However it was not to be as Massa slowed with a mechanical problem late in the race and was forced to retire while Raikkonen made a mistake and made contact with the retaining wall. Following his third stop Raikkonen ran at the back until the final safety car and then parked the car.

While it was a tale of woe for Ferrari, rookie Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi had a fantastic debut for the Ferrari-powered team. Buemi battled hard with Alonso for much of the race and didn't put a wheel wrong as he defended his position. It was fitting that the Swiss racer earned points with his fine seventh place finish.

Sebastien Bourdais finished eighth in the second Toro Rosso and claimed the final championship point ahead of Adrian Sutil in the leading Force India. Nick Heidfeld was forced to pit at the end of the first lap with a cut tyre courtesy of Mark Webber and Barrichello making contact at the first turn.