Jenson Button leads Brawn GP 1-2 (Australian Grand Prix qualifying)

Jenson Button took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix

Jenson Button took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix

A few weeks ago we had never heard of Brawn GP. Now the team that rose from the dead has sensationally locked out the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button took pole position – his first for three years – from Rubens Barrichello. Sebastien Vettel claimed third on the grid while Robert Kubica, fourth, demonstrated the KERS-free BMW is rather quicker than the KERS-enabled car of team mate Nick Heidfeld.

But Lewis Hamilton’s nightmares came true as the MP4-24 struggled not only for pace but also reliability – the car failing to get going at the start of Q2. He starts 15th.

Qualifying part one

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, Melbourne, 2009

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, Melbourne, 2009

Qualifying began with a hectic scrap for honours at the front of the field: Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello all took turns at the top of the teimes. But it was Barrichello who stayed there, with a 1’25.816 pipping Rosberg by 0.031s.

Lewis Hamilton surprised by briefly going second fastest, though he used the super-soft tyres to achieve it while many others were using the medium tyres.

Ferrari revealed some pace with Felipe Massa stepping up to take second, then Kimi Raikkonen fourth having been quickest in the first two sectors but making a mistake in the final one. That left the Force Indias, Sebastien Bourdais, Heikki Kovalainen and, surprisingly, Jarno Trulli in the bottom five, facing the threat of being knocked out.

Mark Webebr sprung a late surprise by going fastest, largely thanks to a very neat and rapid final sector, pulling 0.4s clear of Barrichello. But the Brawn duo struck back – Barrichello posting a 1’25.006, 0.2s faster than his team mate.

Hamilton survived by a scant 0.049s, while Nelson Piquet Jnr was eliminated along with the Toro Rossos and Force Indias.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Sebastien Buemi – 1’26.503
17. Nelson Piquet Jnr – 1’26.598
18. Giancarlo Fisichella – 1’26.677
19. Adrian Sutil – 1’26.742
20. Sebastien Bourdais – 1’26.964

Qualifying part two

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2009

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2009

Any pleasure Hamilton may have got out of scraping into Q2 was extinguished when his MP4-24 suffered a drive train problem, leaving him stuck in the pits and rooted to 15th on the grid.

Once again the Brawns and Williams looked quick but now the Red Bulls were in the mix as well – Sebastian Vettel edged out Rosberg by 0.002s to go fastest. BMW too showed improvement with Robert Kubica briefly leaping up to third.

Heikki Kovalainen was able to do a lap in his McLaren but he was the slowest of the remaining runners leaving him 14th ahead of Hamilton.

Nakajima was half a second slower than team mate Rosberg which was the difference between fourth and 13th. Alonso was also eliminated, as was Heidfeld in the KERS-boosted BMW, while Kubica in the non-KERS car reached the final stage of qualifying.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Nick Heidfeld – 1’25.504
12. Fernando Alonso – 1’25.605
13. Kazuki Nakajiam – 1’25.607
14. Heikki Kovalainen – 1’25.723
15. Lewis Hamilton – no time

Qualifying part three

Jenson Button, Brawn GP, Melbourne, 2009

Jenson Button, Brawn GP, Melbourne, 2009

The final session featured the Brawns, Ferraris, Toyotas, Red Bulls, Rosberg’s Williams and Kubica’s BMW.

Button was comfortably faster than Barrichello with his first lap, despite making a small mistake, suggesting the two were on different fuel loads. Even so, Rosberg was a whole second slower than Barrichello.

Rosberg was pegged back by the Red Bulls – Webber ahead of Vettel – and Kubica. The Ferraris, surprisingly, were ninth and tenth after the first round of laps.

Barrichello improved his time to take provisional pole with his final effort – but as he crossed the line Button was lighting up the first sector with a new best time, and one minute later he deposed Barrichello – and cemented a front row for Brawn GP.

Vettel grabbed third ahead of a surprisingly quick Kubica while Rosberg, the star of practice, was fifth. But the Ferraris of Massa and Raikkonen could manage no better than seventh and eighth.

As Brawn GP is officially classed as a new team, this is the first time a new team has taken pole position in its first race since Mercedes 55 years ago.

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Jenson Button – 1’26.202
2. Rubens Barrichello – 1’26.505
3. Sebastian Vettel – 1’26.830
4. Robert Kubica – 1’26.914
5. Nico Rosberg – 1’26.973
6. Timo Glock – 1’26.975
7. Felipe Massa – 1’27.033
8. Jarno Trulli – 1’27.127
9. Kimi Raikkonen – 1’27.163
10. Mark Webber – 1’27.246

The weights for the ten cars in the top ten should be announced within the next two hours, giving us an idea of what fuel loads they are running.

Update: Starting grid and fuel weights published: Australian GP grid and race weights

Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel, Melbourne, 2009

Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel, Melbourne, 2009

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170 comments on Jenson Button leads Brawn GP 1-2 (Australian Grand Prix qualifying)

  1. mp4-19 said on 28th March 2009, 7:32

    Mclaren will win

  2. I know that James Allen wasn’t the most popular commentator while he was at it, but I never had a problem with his style. On the other hand, Legard sounds like he’s at the races for the first time. Someone needs to hand him a pill and tell him to relax and let Brundle lead.

    As for quali, well when was the last time we saw an outcome like this? Absolutely exciting and if it’s the shape of things to come, we’re in for a very exciting season. i would never count McLaren out, and I’m sure they will claw back some pace, but Brawn will be the talk of the town for some time to come. Did Honda panic, or did Ross orchestrate this scenario from the beginning? He’s one of the sharpest tool in the F1 shed, so I wouldn’t put anything beyond him. And he also has no compunctions about pushing the envelope around what’s considered “right” to do.

    Does anyone know how much input Brawn has on the actual design of the car?

    • hitchcockm00 said on 28th March 2009, 7:41

      Agreed about Legard. I didn’t like Allen but Legard seems to have all the bad qualities of Allen and also doesn’t let Brundle speak.
      Especially when Button was driving his pole lap. There were still about 4 cars to cross the line before Button yet whenever Martin tried to tell us who was slotting into 3rd and 4th, Legard was interrupting him saying “yes, but look at Button!” despite the fact that we couldn’t see him and the fight for the other positions was more exciting.

      I hope he can get his excitement under control for the race.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2009, 7:47

      No idea why people are criticising Legard. He told me what was happening, he didn’t get on my nerves. No complaints here.

    • Mouse_Nightshirt said on 28th March 2009, 8:11

      I thought Legard was pretty good, he did cut in a few times, plus you can tell he’s a radio commentator, but on the whole, I think he gets a thumbs up.

  3. Dorian said on 28th March 2009, 7:35

    What a fantastic qualifying session! Brawn GP are blindingly quick. I think I may have to install a Ross Brawn shrine in my lounge! Eddie Jordan said it well when he likened it to a fairy tale. It’s great to see Button on pole too.

    Fantastic result for Vettel and Red Bull who I think have surpassed expectations this morning.

    Slightly disappointed with Ferrari in Q3, I’ve got my fingers crossed that their race pace is considerably stronger.

    Thus far, I really like the new fangled commentary team, particularly the ‘pairing’ of DC and Eddie. Both have strong opinions and both are not afraid to argue their point, should make for some great entertainment!

    • Legard was good, and i think it was gracious of Brundle to stand back and let him get stuck in on his first day.

  4. dan said on 28th March 2009, 7:36

    this must be the best week of barrichellos life!

  5. what a story for Brawn GP

    Will be rooting for Vettel even though he has got no chance!

  6. Lynn said on 28th March 2009, 7:38

    Pleased for Brawn, especially Barichello. Year off for McLaren I fear. But never mind you can’t win them all.

  7. Dorian said on 28th March 2009, 7:39

    ‘F1 is great and anyone who disagrees is STUPID!!!’

    Mouse_Nightshirt, couldn’t agree more!! :-)

    • Mouse_Nightshirt said on 28th March 2009, 8:12

      I get a bit OTT when it comes to the first race of the season, excuse the outburst :)

  8. thank god brawn gp don’t hired bruno senna, he just talk big. it is really amazing what brawn gp can do. maybe some people complaining about theirs diffuser,but it they are jealous!!!

  9. Rumbert said on 28th March 2009, 7:42

    my observations:
    1) four of the top five qualifiers are from privateer teams (RB, Williams and Brawn). Which is good. I was getting tired of the Macca-Ferrari dominance.
    2) the most talented designers have the fastest cars. Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey designed cars make up the top three. Does this mean that money power is less important and raw talent determines speed? I certainly hope this trend holds up for the remainder of the season.

  10. dan said on 28th March 2009, 7:44

    kieth, didnt the F1 publicity rule mean that you can see the cars fuel loads??

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2009, 7:46

      “The weights for the ten cars in the top ten should be announced within the next two hours, giving us an idea of what fuel loads they are running.”

  11. Antiriad said on 28th March 2009, 7:46

    Delightful result. Really good to see Button and Hamilton swap places after the former has had things so difficult whilst the latter so easy. It will do both of them a lot of good.

  12. Hammad said on 28th March 2009, 7:48

    Anyone believe barrichello’s a lot heavier than button? Aren’t we supposed to be shown the fuel strategies??

    It’s quite sad that ferrari and mclaren seem to be off the pace.. i’d bet on ferrari at least catching up and overtaking brawn within a few races though.

  13. Hammad said on 28th March 2009, 7:49

    Oh right, just read your post keith…

  14. Quite an exciting session! I like seeing the shake-up.

    I bet there are a whole lot of engineers working on new diffusers right now!

    • Derek said on 28th March 2009, 8:18

      I’m surprised McLaren and Ferrari did not build and bring along a pair of these double decker diffusers and just keep them in the back of their trucks just in case the FIA ruled they were okay. Next weekend they will have tripple layer diffusers!!

  15. ukk said on 28th March 2009, 7:51

    Anyone having the same thoughts – that KERS is actually not giving a performance advantage? ;-) … and actually, doing the opposite? ;-)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2009, 7:53

      Looking at Kubica and Heidfeld it’s hard to avoid that conclusion.

    • I suggest to wait for diffuser issue to be solved. I think it’s diffusers that make the difference.

      When it comes to KERS, teams will improve and improve in using KERS by using it. It’s still early days to judge KERS. It will surely give an edge when teams get superior onto the device, which will likely happen in the middle of European races.

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