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. Of the ten cars who ran in Q3, only Timo Glock had a heavier car than Brawn. WOW

  2. Spawinte said on 28th March 2009, 11:51

    Looks like Kubica only qualified where he did from having a light car.

  3. Can i just say that the BBC coverage so far is absolutely fantastic, the red button is brilliant and EJ and DC seem to work very well together!

  4. Damon said on 28th March 2009, 11:56

    @ Wen
    Ok, so I know these are weights. But from which part of the qualifying session? The first one?
    They are refueling for Q3, so Kubica might have been heavier in Q3 in comparison to others that here.

    • @ Damon

      The weights would be the starting weights of the cars tomorrow I presume. since all cars are allowed to run at minimum weight at q1 and q2 and the top ten qualifiers had to run with race fuel already in it in Q3, you can deduce who had the heavier car in Q3. The rest just fueled the car according to the strategy they want to use for tomorrow.

  5. GQsm said on 28th March 2009, 12:01

    Minimum car weight is 605kg but I am not sure how much over they laden the cars before fuel.

    BTW the FIA published the Nakajima weight above wrong it’s apparently 680.5kg not 612.5kg.

  6. Liquid said on 28th March 2009, 12:01

    Both the Toyota cars got thrown out of qualifying due to their use of flexible rear wing elements.. which is apparently against the regulations and so theyll start the race behind Hamilton at the back of the grid..

  7. Keirde said on 28th March 2009, 12:04

    Fuel loads – looks very good for Brawn!

    http://bit.ly/GP9IY

  8. Snoopy said on 28th March 2009, 12:10

    Ok I am back from Melbourne and I am not sure if my head, ears, eyes or feet hurts most. It was a lot of walking, talking and in some part even saw some cars on track lol.

    Most intresting part was walk in paddock and see what happens just few min before qualification. Well I can tell now that tomorrow i will go to mens toilet 10 min before race because it seems to be place where all people are.

    Brawn on toilet 15 min before quali, Nico not so much after that, Kimi 6 min before quali and Schumacher followed 1 min later :O.

    I took some pics (not from toilet) but Massa was too small and fast. Honestly i have to say that i was supprise for size of drivers. It seems that Kubica and Webber are only normal size driver lol.

    I can send some pics if Keith will tell me where to post them. But remember that I am not photographer so they are not 100 % quality.

    • Patrickl said on 28th March 2009, 15:39

      Haha yes. Toilets are like a magnet to Fq drivers. I was in Monaco on a stand in teh harbor facing the back of the (then) pitlane. There were toilets on the second level of the pitlane building. I never saw so many drivers as during that session. Schumacher even went to the toilet at least 3 times.

    • Terry Fabulous said on 29th March 2009, 3:56

      I’m very jealous of you Snoopy! Hope you had a great day!

  9. todd said on 28th March 2009, 12:12

    its funny that all this hype could have been around honda, i bet the CEO is making a post on FML as we speak.

  10. Williams have protested the aerodynamics of ferrari and red bull!

  11. Rob B said on 28th March 2009, 12:23

    Toyota sent to the back of the grid:

    http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2009/3/9084.html

  12. GQsm said on 28th March 2009, 12:29

    Good article on fuel loads and how the pit stops should go tomorrow

    http://allenonf1.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/heres-how-the-race-will-unfold/

  13. Loki said on 28th March 2009, 12:37

    I knew I should’ve plaed my bets on Brawn when I had the chance.

    Good on the boys from Brackley – although the effort we’ve just seen was the remnants of Honda’s departure, they wouldn’t have done it without Brawn in the first place. I’m a Ferrari fan, and I think this serves them right for refusing Brawn a position he so richly deserved (first refusal on a guy like Brawn, come on) – but at the same time, understand they want to make/keep the team Italian.

    One of the best Qualys ever, was completely gripped throughout – and to think I almost didn’t wake up for it!

    Also a good job by the Beeb, can’t say I have any complaints about Legard, though I think I prefer Croft. Think Coulthard seems like a different person now, he doesn’t seem that lively, but I reckon give it time. All in all a good job done :D

  14. Nick said on 28th March 2009, 12:41

    so KERS is useless?!? nice one max.

    • I can see one/both the ferraris using their KERS to leapfrogg Rosberg off the line tomorrow morning.

      Imo, KERS’ main function is in the race and not for one lap speed…

  15. Chris said on 28th March 2009, 12:52

    Here are a couple of thoughts so far;

    First of well done to BrawnGP!

    It is clear the big teams have suffered from concentrating too much on last year. It is also clear that the KERS team have lost out again by concentrating too much on KERS.

    On the point of KERS i think it has the potential to be far better in the race the Maccas could start a KERS charge. Getting them to 8/9th although in reality that is unlikely. However with Hamilitons low fuel load car around a load of heavy cars. KERS could be very useful to him.

    Toyota – how can they possably sort out there wings to conform to the rules by tommrow. (I am assuming they need new wings to be made or they will have to make a big tempoary job which will effect performance) And if they can’t is there any point them starting tommrow seeing as they will be disqualified after the race.

    And should the Williams protest be upheld (it seems very unlikely to me) but that puts another 4 cars that effectivly need new parts to be made in European factories and then sent out to Austrialia in a mere 14 hours (really easy considering the 24 hour flight)

    So just an average qualifing then really!!!!

    • re: Toyotas, from http://www.f1technical.net/news/11951 “We intend to modify the components overnight and we are confident these modifications will not result in any performance drop.”
      If it’s wing’s flexing together, surely they can put spacers or something to keep them apart?

      Hamilton really needs to get past both the heavy Fi’s ahead of him, maybe even Piquet…
      Let’s just hope he can keep his head and do it smartly..

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