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. brawndo said on 28th March 2009, 7:54

    b for vendetta: brawn, button, barichello, and branson, f’n awesome.

    i’d sure hate to be the fool in honda who pulled the trigger on sponsoring this team. corporate ineptitude ftw?

    • sayonaraman said on 28th March 2009, 8:56

      …and Bob Kubica.

      Good to see a breath of frsh air on the starting grid. BrawnGP rules apparently, but I must say I’m much relieved by Kubica’s performance. I thought it’d be worse than 4th…
      Can’t wait for the race. I feel like kid juts before he opens the christamss gift.
      F1 is the greatest motorsport of all.

    • I think those criticising Honda’s poor timing in terms of pulling out have to remember that the Brawn is running a Merc engine. By all accounts, the Merc engine is much better than the lump Honda would have had in the car this year. With Honda power the car would have been quick, no doubt, but not as devastating as it appears to be with the Merc lump.

      Here’s hoping Merc and (Mc) are happy to keep suppling Brawn with proper engines for the WHOLE season. The temptation to turn the wick down to save McLaren’s blushes will no doubt build over the season.

  2. happy for button & rubens but kimi……:-(

  3. What a qualifying session. Great result for Brawn. But their tale can easily make a Bollywood superhit movie. Perfect underdog-coming-out-on-top story.

    Keith, when was the last time that Ferrari, Renault, Mclaren or BMW did not make it to the top 3.

    Unless Rubens and Jenson take each other’s front wings out tomorrow; I am switching off the television after the first corner.

  4. sultryBOB said on 28th March 2009, 7:59

    i hope brawn can keep this up

  5. Magnus said on 28th March 2009, 8:06

    Can’t imagine the big teams running KERS if it was a disadvantage.

    The big question is how well KERS will work for overtaking. The cars were rather close in Q2, so if KERS actually gives the boost intended the Ferraris could do some serious damage at the start and in the race tomorrow.

  6. Hammad said on 28th March 2009, 8:11

    *crosses fingers, hopes for a ferrari assault tomorrow*

  7. StrFerrari4Ever said on 28th March 2009, 8:12

    all i can say is Brawn Effing GP good to see that they are there Keith that time when you put that story of them launching at silverstone everyone was saying they’ll struggle i think i was one of the select few to say they will be up there and well my beloved Toro Rosso arent in tune with the car yet but Vettel :D come on you gotta hand it to that guy he is sensational i hope the race will be tight and exciting or even more exciting than the qualifying session was that was Adrenaline filled Hamilton haha lets see what you got mate :)

  8. sultryBOB said on 28th March 2009, 8:15

    i am at school in america can someone tell where to watch the race live. we dont get speed channel in the dorm and i cant really go somewhere because its 4:15am

  9. Hammad said on 28th March 2009, 8:18

    sultry, go download tvu player. I’m assuming your internet isn’t volume limited. Install that, then load up a channel called star sports. It shows the races live. Qualifying too. I study at u waterloo, so I use this whenever I don’t have access to a tv.

  10. sultryBOB said on 28th March 2009, 8:20

    thanks hammad i will try that out

  11. martinb said on 28th March 2009, 8:21

    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.

    • 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?

    • Patrickl said on 28th March 2009, 8:41

      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.

  12. 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.

  13. todd said on 28th March 2009, 8:37

    what a glorious time to be a f1 fan :D

  14. theo said on 28th March 2009, 8:43

    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!

  15. Marc said on 28th March 2009, 8:43

    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 :)

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