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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. There must be absolute consternation at McLaren, thirteen places behind the Brawns with the same Mercedes engine. I bet there is a lot of finger-pointing going on there right now.

    Mark Webber, seven places behind his teammate in his home Grand Prix, needs to drink more Red Bull. At least he has a broken leg to blame his lack of performance on.

    Nick Heidfeld is also seven places off the pace behind teammate Kubica’s BMW Sauber. He doesn’t have the excuse of a broken leg. He’ll have to pedal faster.

    I don’t think we expected Nakajima in the Williams to match his teammate Rosberg, but eight places is a bit much to fall behind.

    New boy Buemi, qualifying four places better than teammate Bourdais in the Toro Rosso, must be pretty happy, though.

    1. Don’t forget Piquet. I don’t think he will be able to finish the season in Renault. He might be changed with, err let’s say Bruno Senna?

    2. Oh come on, you discount Webber on one (possible) “poor” lap?

      Webber had the better of Vettel in all free practice sessions and in Q1. In Q2 he was .03s off Vettel. I’m guessing he’s on high fuel (2secs between Q2 and Q3 while the rest is on 1.7. with only Button on 1.3s) or he made a mistake. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense why he wasn’t closer to or in front of Vettel.

      Not sure what happened with Heidfeld. Kubica and Heidfeld were matched for pace in all free practice sessions. Maybe Heidfeld made some setup changes that didn’t turn out well? Or maybe Kubica changed something that did work.

      Piquet is simply on his way out. Although the team had him do long stints all weekend. He hasn’t done much short stints.

  2. In today’s racing all trick comes down to aerodynamic package as engines are more or less at the same level due to homologation. Not even KERS or superior engine make any difference for an aerodynamically capped car, as we can see McLaren and Brawn examples.

    Ex-Honda team has made a highly sculptered and engineered chassis which is giving them a mile edge over their rivals.

    Ferrari, BMW and McLaren are likely to update their aerodynamics according to Brawn’s as soon as they arrive Europe or whenever they think it is the time to move, whichever the early. Brawn must take as much as points in these opening races to pursue thir title charge.

  3. what a glorious time to be a f1 fan :D

  4. What a qualifying session, great to see the field so close, I just wish BBC wouldn’t have Eddie Jordan as part of the build up, he’s so annoying, I think Coulthard thinks the same!

  5. they said 2009 would bunch everyone up. It has but i didnt expect it to bunch up that much, Ferrari will now be trying to win, not just go out and win. Same goes for Mclaren.
    Well done to brawn team, good one two grid start for there first race.
    Have they done testing in the wet with these new cars? if they dont have alot of grip in dry wonder what its going to be like in the wet :)

  6. chaostheory
    28th March 2009, 8:59

    Now, how much difference those “wrong” diffusers do I wonder, and how fast Brown & Williams would be with “normal” diff.? Is it only their diff. that makes Brown so fast?
    KERS – they should get rid of that or force everyone to use it – it would be more fair, as its clear cars without it are faster…

  7. Just woken up and read the news (Friday night is always a bit rowdy for me, so I’m being very quiet this morning).
    What a result for Brawn GP, and what turn around for the field in general. JB and Reubens from the back of the grid to the front and Hamilton going the opposite direction. I’m very much looking forward to hearing other teams at the front apart from Ferrari and McLaren, so I do hope this continues all throught the season.
    Yesterday I found a BBC website that allowed me to view on demand the entire fist and second practice sessions with commentary from 5-Live. But now, I can’t remember where I found it. Does anyone know?

  8. schumi the greatest
    28th March 2009, 9:11

    hahahah at martin bell baaaaaarichello and mutton on the front row. haha

    Mad qualifying session hard to keep up everytime someone went out the order was changing as martin brunfle put it “a fruit machine”. hard to draw any real conclusions to the pecking order, obviously brawn are fastest and look to be a maybe half a second a lap quicker than everyone else but afer that its hard. vettel 3rd for red bull but webber is 10th. kubica 4th for bmw but heidfeld is 13th. ferrari struggling aswell.

    also id say the oz gp isnt usually the best reflection on everyones true pace. williams looked strong there last year aswell but after that they didnt really figure atall. Also ferrari struggled last year but then won in malaysia pretty comfortably. being a street track alot of the qualifying depends on the timing of the lap as the track gets quicker and quicker over the weekend so if alonso hadnt made a mistake on the penultimate corner he probably would have made q3.

    i think the only thing we can be certain of is that brawn have the best car and this season should be the best chance for button and barrichello to claim a drivers tittle.

  9. Couldn’t disagree more, Theo

    Eddie Jordan can be irritating, but he’s extremely well
    informed, knows everybody who is anybody in F1 personnaly, isn’t afraid to ruffle pompous idiots feathers and if you really listen to him you gain loads of insight into what’s going on that joe public never sees.

    I think the personnel this year are brilliant and far and away better than ITV’s set up.

    Just think they should interview Keith more often !

  10. Its over 2 hours since qualifying and I cant find any information on the weight of cars which they promised under the new proposals.

    Also annoyed that they don’t show that little graphic when they have an on-board shot of a driver. Things like revs, gear, brake, KERS. I believe it was only shown once during the whole qualifying on Kimi’s car.

    FOM is such a letdown

    1. Varun Murthy
      28th March 2009, 9:55

      I cant agree more.. Ive been searching for the fuel loads for sometime now and not been able to find it..

    2. Mouse_Nightshirt
      28th March 2009, 10:02

      I’ve been sitting here on 3 hours sleep waiting for the info…

      Bernie needs to pull his finger out.

      That said, it’s a blessing we now get that info.

    3. Why would you want to find out the fuel loads?

    4. Why would you want to find out the fuel loads?

      In order to find out the sheer pace of teams.

  11. Awesome awesome result! Probably the first time everyone here is cheering for the front-row starters! :D

    Makes me happy too, go Brawn! Get a 1-2 :)

  12. StrFerrari4Ever
    28th March 2009, 10:06

    UPDATE : Hamilton is dropped to P20 for a gearbox change adds to Mclarens problems

  13. Hamilton to start 20th after gearbox penalty

  14. OMG, guys, do you think we are seeing 1988/2004 all over again???

    And just look at the drivers who have been the biggest favourites to win the WDC – well, at least before this year’s testing began:
    15th Hamilton
    12th Alonso
    9th Raikonnen
    7th Massa
    4th Kubica

    Their qualifying positions give 9.4 on average. Wow.

    And if those results were the results of the race, then the constructors champ. would look like this:
    1. Brawn GP – 18 pts
    2. Red Bull – 6 pts
    3. BMW Sauber – 5 pts
    4. Williams – 4 pts
    -. Toyota – 4 pts
    6. Ferrari – 2 pts

    1. Well, there is a trend you’ll notice there.

      Hamilton, Alonso, Raikonnen, and Massa are all running KERS.

      Kubica isn’t, and he was much quicker that the rest of those drivers.

      Leaving aside the diffuser issue, one characteristic all the cars in the top-10 aside from the Ferraris share is that they are all non-KERS cars.

      The lesson here is clear: don’t run KERS until you have to if you want to be quick this year. In other words, don’t run it this season if performance now is your goal. Adrian Newey nailed it spot on. With the reintroduction of slick tires, you want to shift weight forward to generate more grip from the front tires and better steering response. KERS would completely undermine this, as it puts a load of weight in the middle-rear of the car. Sure, you might get a power boost on corner exit, but you lose speed on corner exit due to understeer on entry through apex from not generating enough front-end grip.

      On the other hand, the drivers who gain experience in playing with KERS this season will have a leg up for next season. But in any event, I would not expect to see McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, or the KERS half of BMW (Heidfeld) challenging in at least the first few GPs until they can figure out how to fix the weight distribution problem.

      On the other hand, if there’s a wet race, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, and Heidfeld will be golden.

  15. There’s only one way to fix the Legard issue….

    Bring back this man from the dead:

    1. Lol! Nice find.

  16. with overtaking much easier we’ll wait and see and a much unpredictable race could, could hamilton and kovi overtake there way up to the front.

    1. To overtake a car, Hamilton still needs to be faster than the car in front though …

  17. Eddie Irvine
    28th March 2009, 10:52

    Both Toyota drivers disqualyfied for using flexible wings, they will allowed to start from the back of the grid if they replace them with stiffer according to rules wings.

    1. Wow. Epic fail, Toyota. And they were one of the “Diffuser Three” teamswho were looking strong.

      On the other hand, that was a truly boneheaded attempt to sneak one by the stewards. Flexible wing components? Are you kidding me?

    2. Eddie Irvine
      28th March 2009, 11:02

      I expected Ferrari to be penalised for these very flexible wings which are connected to the mirrors, they seemed too flexible in the onboard camera

    3. Varun Murthy
      28th March 2009, 11:09

      The mirrors were definitely vibrating a lot,but i think that that was happening on a couple of other cars as well..

      If ferrari are pushed down to the bottom,its going to be a ripper of a race tomorrow..

  18. Bigbadderboom
    28th March 2009, 10:54

    Awesome!!! Talk about a shake up!

    Good luck to Jenson and Rubens hope their pace is matched by the cars reliability.

    Great pairing of DC and Eddie J, I can see that getting interesting.

    Also good to see a live test of the new telemetry graphics including KERS (For those complaining it was never supposed to be ready for melbourn)

    Still no weights yet (I’d rather not know but if they are going to promise these things they should deliver)

    Excellent pace from Webber all things considering (Injuries)

    I can’t see many McLaren engineers/mechanics getting sleep tonight, they will all be working on McLaren N.O 1. Strategic retirement from Quali I don’t think there was much wrong with the car. They wanted more time with it, chin up Lewis.

    Good show from Alonso poor show Piquet.

    I cannot wait till the morning I think its goingto be a truelly entertaining race.

    1. Dude, Lewis is starting at the back because of a gearbox failure and replacement.

      Check that; he’ll be starting 18th, now that the Yotas have been found with flexible wing components.

  19. Eddie Irvine
    28th March 2009, 11:00

    Also Ferrari and Red bull appealed against Williams. The reason for this is yet to be cleared!

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