F1 News, Views and Reviews

Australian Grand Prix 2009: Button Wins An Epic Race

Jenson Button has taken the flag to win his second Grand Prix, with the Brawn GP team in their first ever race.

Brawn had a 1-2 in their first ever GP, with Rubens Barrichello coming second and initially Jarno Trulli was 3rd, HOWEVER it has been ruled Trulli must serve a 25 second penatly for overtaking under yellow flags and subequently he falls to 11th leaving Lewis Hamilton in 3rd.

RACE REVIEW

The drivers lined up to start the season, and Jenson Button got a fantastic getaway from the line.  The same cannot be said for Rubens Barrichello whose anti-stall kicked in and he was swallowed up by the field in the charge for the first corner.  The Scuderia Ferrari’s looked very good off the line with the soft slicks and KERS systems, leaving Felipe Massa in 3rd and Kimi Raikkonen in 4th.

Behind them, Rubens Barrichello got nudged from nehind, putting him into a spin and he hit Mark Webber who hit Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber.  Both suffered big damage and had to pit, pretty much ruining their race chances.

During the same incident, Fernando Alonso ended up grass-cutting in avoidance, throwing the Renault R29 through the gravel in hsi avoidance of Heikki Kovalainen who bent all of his front suspension in, and had to retire.  Barrichello’s only damage, a loss of the front wing endplate, which would be worsened with a tag onto Kimi Raikkonen a few laps later.

Jenson Button began to extend his lead, which in truth never looked in danger.  The Brawn BGP001 car was clearly far superior to any other car on the circuit.  The Ferrari’s and Vettel kept with them in the beginning, but the Italian marques slick tyre graining forced them to pit on just lap 10.

Nico Rosberg took advantage and put the Williams into third, but all the time he gained catching Vettel was lost in the pits with a tyre change problem.  His team mate, Kazuki Nakajima smashed his car into the wall at turn 4, unloading the rear end on the raised kerb of the exit and totalled the front end.  The proximity to the circuit, and the debris meant the safety car was called out.

Button has just left the pits when the Safety Car was released to initially it has Vettel leading behind it.  This led to an almost DTM-Esq safety car debacle as the driver put his window down and waved the drivers passed.  Almost humourous, but wasted vital laps.  While all this was going on, the debris took a long while to clear and all drivers were suffering with the slick tyres cooling dramatically.

Giancarlo Fisichella took the topportunity to pit, but his brakes were poor and he ended up missing his pitbox altogether, nearly mowing down his left side tyre change crews.  This cost the Italian majorly vital time when they were looking good for point scoring potential.

On the restart Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr lost it on cold brakes and tyres and ended up submerged in the gravel trap at turn 1, nearly taking out Kimi Raikkonen from behind.

Not long after this Ferrari’s Felipe Massa slowed and ended up retiring from the race with an as yet unknown problem, possibly the KERS system broke.  Kimi Raikkonen would later stuff the Ferrari into the wall leaving this a non-scorer for the Italian team, just like in 2008.

The cars continued around with Jenson Button building an unassailable lead.  Sebastian Vettel in second was fighting with Robert Kubica, who tried a daring manoeuvre around the outside into turn 3, where David Coulthard smashed over Alexander Wurz in 2007.  A big crash ensued today with the BMW driver puting across the front of the Red Bull car, smashing the wings off, the damage worsened when Kubica spun straight across the front of the young German.

Both had massive front end damage, leading to them both hitting the wall at turn 5, Kubica in massive fashion like Rubens Barrichello did with Ferrari some years back.  Vettel lost his front left wheel but continued racing around the circuit, with the safety car out theoretically no-one could pass him and he could keep his position.  We thought Vettel was a complete idiot because he would be disqualified but it turned out Red Bull bosses had told him to do this!  They have now been fined and dealt with [see below].

The safety car caused a second debacle with Jarno Trulli overtaking Lewis Hamilton under a yellow flag for 3rd position.  The Italian has now lost that position in a ruling by the FIA.

Kubica and Vettel’s incident left Rubens Barrichello 2nd to complete a 1-2 for Brawn in what has been frankly carnage.  I am yet to be convinced by the new cars and rules.

Time-Sheet

The 2009 ING Australian Grand Prix;

Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia;

58 Laps;

Sunny/Sunset, Temp Av: 25oC.

Classified

Pos Driver Team Time
1 J. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1.34.15.784
2 R. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes +0.807
3 L. Hamilton* McLaren-Mercedes +2.914
4 T. Glock Toyota +4.435
5 F. Alonso Renault +4.879
6 N. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +5.722
7 S. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +6.004
8 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +6.289
9 A. Sutil Force India-Merc +6.355
10 N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +7.085
11 J. Trulli* Toyota Penalty
12 G. Fisichella Force India-Merc +7.354
13 M. Webber RBR-Renault +1 lap
14 S. Vettel RBR-Renault +2 laps
15 R. Kubica BMW Sauber +3 laps
16 K. Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari +3 laps

* – See penalties below

Fastest Lap: 1.27.706 – N. Rosberg, Williams

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
F. Massa Scuderia Ferrari 46 Engine/KERS
N. Piquet Renault 25 Spin
K. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 18 Accident
H. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1 Suspension

Penalties

  • Jarno Trulli given a 25 second penalty for overtaking Lewis Hamilton under yellow flags/safety car.  Subsequently dropped to 11th place.
  • S. Vettel given 10 place grid penalty for the Malaysian GP for continuing with race ending damage
  • Red Bull Racing fined $50,000 for telling S. Vettel to continue with race ending damage

INTERVIEWS/COMMENT

Jenson Button (Brawn) 1st – “This is a fairy tale ending to the first race of our career together and I hope that we can continue this way and I know we are going to fight every moment we can to keep this car competitive.”

Rubens Barrichello (Brawn) 2nd – “I never thought I could finish on the podium after the start, I hit anti-stall and recovered quickly, then I was hit from behind by a McLaren and that put me sideways and I hit someone really hard.  I had a lot of mixed emotions and it was fantastic, I’m delighted”

Fernando Alonso (Renault) 5th – “In terms of the overall results and looking at our competitors, we have to be happy with the result,”

Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 7th – “First race first point, so I’m very happy,” said Buemi. “Maybe we had a bit of luck with the accidents, but even without that we were not too bad and our strategy worked well and I am very happy with the way my race went.”

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) Ret [16th] – “It was my mistake to hit the wall, it was just sudden but I spun. Looking afterwards we would probably have finished second, and it is a shame.”

PHOTOS

Start of the 2009 Season!

Start of the 2009 Season!

Turn 1 Mayhem

Turn 1 Mayhem

Turn 1 Mayhem continued...

Turn 1 Mayhem continued...

As predicted, many cars ended up breaking those massive front wings

As predicted, many cars ended up breaking those massive front wings

Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber both had bad days

Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber both had bad days

Hamilton and Trulli fought it out

Hamilton and Trulli fought it out

The safety car was used a few times!

The safety car was used a few times!

Piquet crashed

Piquet crashed

Massa broke down, completing a crap day for Ferrari

Massa broke down, completing a crap day for Ferrari

Vettel and Kubica had a coming together with a handful of laps to go, runing both their podium chances

Vettel and Kubica had a coming together with a handful of laps to go, runing both their podium chances

Moments after hitting Vettel, Kubica had a nasty shunt into the wall

Moments after hitting Vettel, Kubica had a nasty shunt into the wall

The incident left Vettel with the questions to answer, leading to a penalty

The incident left Vettel with the questions to answer, leading to a penalty

However Button took the flag on only his second GP win!

However Button took the flag on only his second GP win!

Brawn boys 1 and 2!

Brawn boys 1 and 2!

VIDEO

Race Review – Courtesy of BBC, UK ONLY

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7970518.stm

Full Press Conference – Courtesy of BBC, UK ONLY

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7970529.stm

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3 responses

  1. One of the most exciting and unpredictable races in years and you’re not convinced the new rules are a good thing? This is the result of the teams fixing Max’s arbitrary fiddling, and it turned the entire field upside-down. If it hadn’t happened, we would still be watching Red and Silver cars running by themselves. the only questionable aspect of the whole thing are where the FIA got involved and Max insisted on KERS. Waste of money. Period.

    March 29, 2009 at 7:21 pm

  2. Yes, it was a good race – I am not debating that in anyway. The thing with the new rules is, the cars had susceptible front wings and this was proven by countless numbers of them being taken off the cars in the first lap and subsequent punctures. It was complete carnage at times, and this is no way to run an open wheel race – touring car series maybe. There was entertainment yes, but lets look at the fact the past 2 seasons have been decided by a single point – how can the racing get closer than that?

    The KERS is a waste of time. I’m just not convinced by those front wings, take them off and i would be happier. The cars also looked slow, I know that sounds kinda silly but they just didnt look on the edge like they used to. I think i’ve been watching too much classic F1 and wishin the times would go back to how they used to be.

    March 29, 2009 at 8:34 pm

  3. Oddly enough, times are now quicker with these cars than last year.

    I agree that the front wings are ungainly and vulnerable and the rears look too small to make a difference, but at the end of the day, this is what the technical working group representing the teams came up with in order to bring about overtaking, and it worked. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were tweaks to the wing width in the future, but the Brawn team showed that you can build a robust car and still win. Rubens had his diffuser shattered and his nose bent out of shape and still finished second, so the drivers are going to have to learn to adapt as well.

    March 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

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