Jenson Button Wins Australian Grand Prix, Leads Brawn 1-2

One-two in qualifying, one-two in the opening race of the 2009 season! Could Ross Brawn have asked for more this week? Jenson Button led the Australian Grand Prix from beginning to end and crossed the finish line ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello, giving Brawn his first 1-2 in F1 as team owner.

A team that was praying for survival one month before the official start of the 2009 season has dominated the Aussie GP in great fashion. Supported back in the pits by his father, Button cruised to his second win of career, only this time it was a real piece of art.

The British driver did everything right when the red lights went off, powering to the lead and building an impressive more-than-a-second advantage over the pack after the very opening lap. Teammate Rubens Barrichello, on the other hand, fell all the way into 7th place, giving Sebastian Vettel an easy one-spot promotion from the very start.

Not only that, but the Brazilian driver smashed into Mark Webber while trying to keep his position-losing to a minimum in Turn 1, causing the first incident of the race. As a result of the pile-up, McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen had to retire due to a suspension problem, while BMW’s Nick Heidfeld and Webber had to make a short visit to the pits for repairs.

In front, Button had no problem taking total control of the race, with Vettel running in a safe 2nd place. Although he was overtaken by both Ferraris at the start, Williams’ Nico Rosberg got one position back, as he passed Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 10. It was in the same lap that Barrichello tried the same maneuver over the Finn, only to hit his front wing in the process.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton started to pick position after position in the back of the pack, making the most of his super-soft tires and Kinetic Energy Recovery System. He was, however, one of the first drivers to make the first pit stop in the race, joined by the two Ferrari drivers and BMW’s Robert Kubica.

Kazuki Nakajima’s mistake on lap 19, when he crashed his Williams FW31 into the wall, led to the deployment of the safety car. Everybody hurried to the pits in the following 2 laps, with very little effect on the racing order.

Nelson Piquet – promoted all the way into 7th place after the first pit stops – ended the day into the gravel in the very first lap after re-start. Other than than, there were no major incidents on Lap 23. It was old news for Button again, as he put at least one second between him and Vettel after the first few corners.

Robert Kubica re-started the race in 3rd place and soon enough began pressuring Vettel for the runner-up spot. He even scored a fastest lap before making his second pit stop of the day. Barrichello therefore moved in to 3rd place and took the Pole’s job in putting pressure on the Red Bull Racing driver.

Hamilton made his way into 5th place by Lap 43, but eventually had to pit and re-join the pack in 10th place. Vettel made his last visit to the pits on Lap 47, joined by Button a lap later. However, the two drivers maintained positions in the race, with Kubica back in 3rd place (following Barrichello’s stop).

Felipe Massa called it a day on Lap 52 with mechanical problems, while Kimi Raikkonen struggled all day long in the mid-pack. The Finn eventually ended the race in the pits, due to a differential problem.

But what a shock! With only 3 laps to go, when Kubica was set to pass Vettel for 2nd place, the latter failed to keep his nerve and didn’t let go in time, causing both drivers to end the day in tears. Vettel soon hit the wall and apologized to his team for the missed chance.

The safety car was quickly deployed, leaving the two Brawn GP drivers in front of the field. The 1-2 two was chequered-flagged under safety car, with Jarno Trulli finishing in 3rd place. Hamilton ended the day on an amazing 4th place, followed by Timo Glock and Renault’s Fernando Alonso. Nico Rosberg had to settle for 7th place, while Toro Rosso’s newcomer Sebastien Buemi scored his first point in Formula 1 from 8th place.
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