31st March 2009

Button and Brawn GP Dominate at Australian Grand Prix

posted in Car News Articles |

Button and Brawn GP Dominate at Australian Grand Prix

Date posted: 2009-03-30 16:16:00.0

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MELBOURNE, Australia β€” Formula 1′s newest entry β€” Brawn GP, formerly the works Honda team β€” scored a 1-2 sweep, with Jenson Button leading the way, in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The team did not officially exist until March 6, when Ross Brawn β€” the British racing engineer who teamed with Michael Schumacher in all seven of Schumacher’s championship seasons β€” closed the deal to acquire the assets of the team from Honda.

Button, who suffered through an absolutely dismal season last year even though Brawn had come on board as team principal, won the pole and led from start to finish. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was 2nd.

Of course, Brawn GP did not start from scratch on March 6. The Brackley, Northamptonshire, England-based outfit had been continuing to operate after Honda announced its withdrawal of the team in December. There were cutbacks and personnel layoffs β€” and complete uncertainty about the future of the team.

But Brawn, proven to be one of the most capable leaders in the sport, had assembled a strong team before he officially became the owner of it. Engines were to be supplied by Mercedes, partner with the reigning champion McLaren-Mercedes team, and Button and Barrichello were retained as drivers.

And at Melbourne, the team dominated not just the race, but the entire season-kickoff weekend β€” practice, qualifying, a lights-to-checkered-flag commanding victory and maximum points for the team car.

The race ended under a yellow flag after Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica took each other out while battling for 2nd place. That lifted Barrichello to 2nd place. Jarno Trulli finished in 3rd place, but was penalized for overtaking under the caution flag and was dropped to 12th place in the final rundown.

Post-race developments included not only the penalty against Trulli and disciplinary action against Vettel after his crash with Kubica, but also the pall of a protest of the winning team. Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault appealed a steward’s decision to allow the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars to compete despite questions about the rigidity of their rear diffusers.

Inside Line says: One of the most intriguing and wide-open F1 seasons in memory is off to a gangbusters start, on and off the track. A ruling on the protest is scheduled to be made after Round 2 in Malaysia next week. β€” David Green, Correspondent

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