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. Hounslow said on 28th March 2009, 13:00

    Looking at the car weights, I see Nick’s BMW is 41 kg heavier than Kubica’s. That’s not just the KERS weight is it? Nick must be running a lot more fuel that Kubica, mustn’t he?

    • Both of their cars will weigh 605kg when empty, KERS or not.
      So yeah Nick has much more fuel, mainly because he could choose any fuel load.

  2. rich said on 28th March 2009, 13:09

    when is KERS going to show that it has some advantages?

    is it the track layout? 6.7 seconds of boost – dont you use it on the straights?

    • From what Alonso and Hamilton have said in interview, and the one shot of KERS use we saw from Raikkonen, looks like they are using for 1-2s out of specific corners to get better acceleration.
      I think team engineers will have calculated the “best” spots to use KERS boosts to optimise laptimes, and passed this information on to the drivers.

  3. It was truely a great session. With the drivers so close to each other. The great thing about albert park circuit is that it’s more of the driver who makes the pace and not the car. Perhaps in Malaysia we might see a bigger gap since that track relies on the car’s design. Who ever has a good design will excell well on that track. And I think the brawn cars will still be on pole on that track.

    Have you heard about Toyota Team being stripped out of the qualifying due to too much flexing of the rear wings? That means Kimi moves up to 7th!

  4. Heard Williams is protesting Ferrari’s and Toyota’s aero package in Melbourne?? WHats that all about?

  5. Ricardo said on 28th March 2009, 13:38

    Great for Ross Braun & Button!! Great for F1 also. Please look Barrichello … are the faster, so looking forward for an exciting race and season.

  6. Damon said on 28th March 2009, 13:50

    @ todd
    You’re right, Brawn is taking all the credit for Honda’s great work building that car.
    This would’ve been such a great promotion for Honda. And it seems the media are neglecting the fact that the car is not a “new team’s brand new car”, but Honda’s masterpiece that took (more than) a year to build.

    • mmm.. yeah, I know how many times in the past honda had worked hard and built a masterpiece like this, …….
      Ross Brawn has been clearly the force behind the success and so the team boasts it. Why shouldn’t they?? I’m happy for them..Finally Jenson in a great car..

  7. Phil said on 28th March 2009, 14:03

    Haven’t read all the posts here (there are 140plus), but has anyone mentioned that Toyota have been excluded after scrutineering for the wings flexing? They’ll start last behind Hamilton.

  8. Why was the willaims’ protest against Ferrari and Toyotas anyway?

  9. Marc said on 28th March 2009, 14:13

    Ok iv been reading all these comments while theve been coming through.
    Now iv came to realise WHY DID NOBODY PROTEST OR SAY SOMETHING BEFORE THE QUALIFYING? or during the practices.
    I was hopeing in 2009 there would be no protesting or arguments but then again it is first race.

    What i think should happen is to destroy the KERS idea or make EVERYONE use kers. Personally i think they would get on better without it

  10. David - BR said on 28th March 2009, 15:03

    The look of joy and confidence on Button’s face before training even began said everything: after years of frustration, a bewilderingly unexpected chance to head the field. Fantastic! I do think this will be for just 3 or 4 races before Ferrari take the front, but if he, Barrichello, Williams, BMW and Toyota can maximize their points now, they can make a real fight of it. The only question will be if they will take points of each other rather than, say, Braun, finishing 1-2 regularly tomorrow and over the next few races. Whatever the case, should be fun!

  11. Johnt said on 28th March 2009, 15:19

    Last time there was a rule change of this scale with car design so significantly different to the previous season, 1998, we had two teams that really took a lead, and who remained in that position all the way through to last season. The teams were of course McLaren and Ferrari, and the designers of those cars were Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn respectively. Since then the cars which were effectively developments of those two original 1998 cars have been consistently in the same position.

    2009. Major rule change again. Brawn GP and Red Bull seemingly have the edge thus far. Ross Brawn, Adrian Newey, as before.

    Coincidence? We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

    Is it really the top teams? Or maybe it’s just the top designers?

  12. matt said on 28th March 2009, 15:24

    i think jenson button is the greatest ever and will be at least a 7 time world champion..

    • Patrickl said on 28th March 2009, 15:49

      Lol. They actually did say that when he entered F1 didn’t they?

      Actually, he first needs to beat Barrichello. Button was lucky that he ended up in front of Barrichello in qualifying in Q3.

  13. Patrickl said on 28th March 2009, 15:46

    I don’t think anyone commented on this, but I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Adrian Newey had gotten the correct answer when they inquired about the “alternative” diffuser interpretation.

    Apparently they asked wether the diffuser desing was allowed and were told that it wasn’t. So they went with the regular diffuser layout and I can understand their anger that they feel misled by FIA.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2009, 16:35

      Really? I hadn’t heard that. Wouldn’t surprise me though…

    • Patrickl said on 28th March 2009, 16:48

      Oh, maybe I’m confused then. There was someone really upset that they asked permission and were turned down and now others have it.

      Not sure what they asked permisson for either of course. Maybe it wasn’t for the double decker diffuser, but just for incorporating the crash structure into the diffuser (which is more apparent).

  14. Allie500 said on 28th March 2009, 16:07

    Well BrawnGP, Williams, and Toyota sure have made the rest of the teams look like suckers with their sweet large flow diffusers. All 3 of those teams are racing way ahead of where they should be due to the diffusers.

    Plus if I was running KERS…i’d have my crew working around the clock to take it off my cars and use ballast to perfect the balance like BrawnGP has done.

    Only fools will run KERS for the rest of the season.

    Also, Hamilton should just let his brother race the car this season and just take a sabbatical. The MP4-24 is a piece of junk. McLaren should just dump those things in the English Channel on the way back from all these fly-aways.

    • matt said on 28th March 2009, 16:32

      hahahaah. i for one look forward to seeing Hamilton where Button was last year…we’ll see how long the plaudits last for Hamilton this season if he’s replaced as ‘no 1′ british driver…

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