The 2009 Australian Grand Prix (officially LXXIV ING Australian Grand Prix) was race number 1 of the 2009 Formula One Season. It took place at the Albert Park Circuit on March 29 2009. The race was won by Brawn-Mercedes driver Jenson Button with Rubens Barrichello for Brawn-Mercedes in second and Jarno Trulli of Toyota in third. Defending Drivers' champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren-Mercedes was disqualified for misleading the race stewards.
Formula One's Financial Crisis Edit
The effect of the Global Financial Crisis would finally make its effects felt on the Formula One world at the beginning of the 2009 season. One of the major off-track stories of Formula One in 2008 was the debate on how best to effectively reduce the ever increasing financial costs for team's operating in Formula One. During the weekend of the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix, the three major organisations that influence Formula One, the FIA, FOM and FOTA met to discuss how best to tackle the ever increasing costs of competing in Formula One. FIA President, Max Mosley, explained the main issue as being, "What is wrong with Formula One today was wrong before any of the present economic problems cropped up. Essentially it's the rules, which have become ever more restrictive compressing the work of the engineers into an ever smaller area. As such, success in F1 today consists of optimizing every single part of the chassis to the ultimate degree and that is both extremely expensive and utterly pointless."
Negotiations between the three organisations were difficult and the Chinese meeting came to little avail. The heads of these organisations, Max Mosley (FIA), Bernie Ecclestone (FOM) and Luca di Montezemelo (FOTA) finding it difficult to find common ground. However in the wake of the sudden announcement on the 4th December 2008 that Honda was withdrawing from Formula One with immediate effect, negotiations began to increase rapidly. Mosley noted that he had expected a manufacturer to withdraw for some time, however even he was not expecting one of the largest manufacturers to withdraw. With the threat of more teams potentially withdrawing, Mosley sought to enforce a budget drop for Formula One team's by £30-40 million.
On the 10th December 2008 at Monte Carlo, the FIA, FOM and FOTA finally came to an agreement on the future of the Formula One season for 2009. The most significant decision was to make a total in-season ban on testing. Aside from the practice sessions of the race weekends, team's would no longer be permitted to take their cars to out of race weekend test sessions. Engine costs were also dramatically reduced by ensuring that each driver could only use a maximum of eight engines per season, four separate engines were permitted for pre-season testing. These engines must have a minimum life span of 3 races and be limited to 18 000 rpm. The manufacturers must also sell their engines to 50% of the cost to what they had done in 2008.
Furthermore there were to be reductions in aerodynamic research, particularly in wind tunnel testing, with no wind tunnel exceeding 60% scale and 50 metres/sec to be used after 1st January 2009. The team's would also have to concede to a closure of their factory for six weeks minimum every year. The final change would take place on race weekends, team's would now share the information concerning tyres and fuel, eliminating the need for "spotters". FOM would also investigate ways to enhance the spectacle of the Formula One show, this included the potential implementation of a medal system to determine the world championship.
For 2010, Mosley had planned to implement further cost-cuts in which the entire grid would run the same standardised engines and transmissions. However this was received with incredible backlash from the team's, Formula One's longest standing team, Scuderia Ferrari even threatened to quit if such a policy was implemented. Mosley instead commissioned a cost-saving engine that would not be compulsory for team's to run. Mosley announced that Cosworth were willing to supply customer engines to any team that needed it for the 2010 season.
Formula One's New Look Edit
In recent years, Formula One had been criticised for a reduction of on-track action, the increasing technicality not only being attributed to the high costs of Formula One but also the reduction of exciting racing. For 2009 the cars would be radically different due to the significant aerodynamic changes implemented. The front wings were to be lower and wider whilst the rear wings were set to be narrower and higher. There was also a ban on winglets, bargeboards and turning veins. The aim was to reduce downforce in an effort to produce better wheel to wheel racing.
For the first time since 1997, slick tyres would return to Formula One. This was done to help increase grip levels and on-track overtaking. The tyres still supplied by Bridgestone would now have three separate compounds, a dry tyre, an intermediate tyre and a full wet tyre. The soft tyres would be marked by a green lining around the outside of the tyre.
The next bid in improving the racing was the implementation of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). The regenerative braking device was denied to recover some of the car's kinetic energy that was lost under braking, in turn the driver would be able to implement the use of a button that would be able to recover this energy in an increase in speed for at least 5 seconds a lap. However the technology was left as merely an option for the team's to use, for 2009 only Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber and Renault would opt to utilise the KERS technology. Support for KERS was not unanimous among the teams, many believing it to be an unneccessary cost. Furthermore the technology was considered dangerous, the team's being uncertain on how to predict a failure of the technology. During testing at the end of 2008, a BMW Sauber mechanic received an electric shock whilst handling the technology, this incident providing grounds for concern on handling the system. Nonetheless, BMW Sauber team principal, Mario Theissen, remained enthusiastic about KERS implementation. Theissen being one of KERS's strongest supporters remained enthusiastic about the technology. Theissen received criticism from Renault team principal, Flavio Briatore, due to the fact he had blocked an attempt to delay the introduction of KERS until 2010. Briatore believing the technology to be too untested as well as a serious waste of money, this is in spite of Renault's own investment in the development of KERS. In response, Theissen stated "Our position in the discussions has been that KERS is important for Formula One because it will put F1 into the role of a new technology pioneer. Obviously, we think KERS is important to BMW because we have put a lot of effort on it. We agreed that the cost of KERS was quite significant, but the real thing is that when we discussed it a month ago the money had been spent already on development, so it would be the worst thing to spend money on something you don't use."
Offseason Roundup Edit
Lewis Hamilton had won the 2008 world title by the narrowest of margins, on the last corner of the last lap of the last grand prix, he clinched that much needed fifth place from Timo Glock to snatch the title away from his chief rival, Felipe Massa. In only his second season, Lewis Hamilton, had won the world title and as quoted by former driver Martin Brundle, the next "megastar" of the future. For 2009, Hamilton was back in McLaren alongside teammate Heikki Kovalainen who was engaging his second season in Formula One. From Kovalainen's perspective, 2009 had to be an improvement if he wanted to remain with a top team. Whilst his teammate had won the title and taken five wins in 2008, Kovalainen could only manage a single win and seventh in the championship standings. Whilst McLaren had won the driver's championship, the constructor's championship has since 1998 still alluded them. There was big changes afoot at McLaren ahead of 2009, the team's main shareholder and team principal, Ron Dennis, announced at the MP4-24 launch that he was stepping down from the leadership of the McLaren racing team. The team's CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, would take over the reigns as team principal. Dennis however noted that he was likely to still attend 'most, if not, all races in 2009'. Only two weeks after Dennis's resignation, McLaren Co-Founder, Teddy Mayer, had been announced to have died at the age of 73. In early March, Tyler Alexander, the head of McLaren's USA branch and one of the last of the founding members to remain in the company resigned from his position also.
Pre-Season Testing Edit
Entry List Edit
The conditons for FP1 were cool and sunny, ambient temperature sat at 18 degrees celsius with a track temperature of 25 degrees celsius. The first drivers out of the pits are the cars of the two Force India's, BMW Sauber's and Toro Rosso's. The installation laps commence as the drivers gain the first set of track data. Following these cars, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa enter the circuit in tandum. Hamilton, Raikkonen, Button, Glock, Kovalainen and Piquet are the next cars to venture out. After seven minutes, all the drivers with the exception of Alonso and Barrichello have completed their installation laps.
Thereafter the track falls silent and the drivers begin to exit the car as the data download commences. Lewis Hamilton is intense discussion with his father, Anthony. Another racing father, the great Nelson Piquet Sr is seen in discussion with his own former boss, now son's team principal, Flavio Briatore. Felipe Massa turns to observe the racing monitors whilst he sips on his water bottle. Beside him, Michael Schumacher, champion turned racing advisor, departs from the garage to enter the paddock. At the BMW Sauber pits, Heidfeld moves to the pitwall to talk with his engineers, teammate Kubica is calm and relaxed sitting on some trolleys talking to his manager Daniel Morelli. At Toro Rosso, Sébastien Buemi has remained in his car intently waiting to get back out on track ahead of his first race. Bourdais, his teammate is seen in discussion with Alexander Wurz, the man who is believed to be signed as the new Brawn GP reserve.
25 minutes into the session, Barrichello finally exited the pits to commence his installation laps, from the pits, his teammate Button is seen watching the monitors as he watches the other Brawn car complete his lap. As Barrichello rounds the final corner to come into the pits, Buemi, the only debutant exits the pits. Buemi, the only debutant on the grid appears to be the first driver to begin setting a lap time. His first time is cautious, only a 1:41.493, however as he begins to acclimatise to the track his times begin to drop. His second lap is a 1:36.659, followed by a 1:35.296. On his fourth lap, his time drops further to a 1:35.296, however on his fifth lap, he pushes too hard and runs wide off the circuit at turn nine. Inexperience getting to the young Swiss driver. This minor off saw the Toro Rosso return to the pits.
Following Buemi's fourth lap, Räikkönen entered the track in his Ferrari. He immediately set the benchmark on his first lap, dropping the best time to 1:31.121. As this is happening, Alonso finally comes out of the pits, the last driver to yet commence an installation lap, 37 minutes into the session. Räikkönen further lowers the benchmark with a 1:28.718 whilst Rosberg sets his first lap time with a 1:34.330 to move into third. Heidfeld then moves into second with a 1:31.735, however Rosberg improves on his second lap with a 1:29.962. Massa spoils his first timed run when he spins the car at turn 15. He manages to keep the car out of the wall and returns to the track.
The Toyota of Trulli moves into third with a 1:31.589, he now sits behind Räikkönen and Rosberg. Button's first lap time in the Brawn puts him only seventh with a :1:31.060. Hamilton's first lap time puts him only fourth with a 1:30.590. Massa meanwhile betters his rivals time to move into second after his first lap off. Teammate Räikkönen has further lowered his own best time, putting the Ferrari's first and second on the time sheets. This is short lived however as Button improves with a 1:28.461 to split the two Ferrari's. The first demonstration in the weekend of Brawn's impressive pre-season testing speed.
The season does not start well for Sebastian Vettel, his race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin ordering him to park his car on the circuit at the start of his first flying lap, his Red Bull had lost hydr aulic pressure. Rosberg who was set to improve on his fifth fastest time, slowed his car down in response to yellow flags from Vettel's car and being forced to abandon the lap. The same time saw Räikkönen, Heidfeld and Button return to the pits following the completion of their first runs.
Hamilton then runs wide and goes deep into the gravel at turn 14, the incident fuelling the feeling that the new McLaren MP4-24 is particularly difficult to drive. However his teammate, Kovalainen saves the team some grace by posting the new fastest time with a 1:27.982. Barrichello's first lap time sees him set a 1:28.731 which puts him in fifth, one place behind and only one tenth behind Brawn teammate, Button. However his second lap sees him top the time sheets with a 1:27.743. Glock then puts in a good showing for Toyota to move into third with a 1:28.418. Sutil then impresses for Force India when he sets the fastest middle sector allowing him to move into the top 10 with a 1:29.062.
The track has began to rubber in, the surface becoming less slippery allowing the drivers to push more. All of the cars have so far used the harder, medium tyre. The drivers likely preferring to use the softer tyre once the track has laid down more grip.
Bourdais is the next driver to set a timed lap, however his time is unimpressive, the 1:33.408 he has set has seen him only manage nineteenth place. However his consolation being that even Alonso is struggling only managing a best time that put him seventeenth fastest. Alonso is fighting his car, getting his Renault all out of shape whilst in a run through turn nine. After two timed laps he remains stuck in seventeenth. His third lap however sees a better improvement, he puts his car into seventh and then his fourth lap sees him improve by a further tenth. Nonetheless, the Renault appears to be struggling.
Räikkönen becomes the first driver to enter the track with the soft tyres, unsurprisingly he sets the fastest time with a 1:26.461. Shortly after, Heidfeld has unseated his seventh place with a 1:28.768. Also on his second run, Button has improved his time yet again to move into second with a 1:27.467. Massa improves his time to fifth fastest as Barrichello returns to the track. Nakajima in the second Williams speers off the track at turn 15, he immediately enters the pits, a puncture to the right rear tyre being the cause of his off. Shortly after, Piquet flies off the circuit at turn one. The Renault barely managing to make it out of the gravel trap, the team proving one of the more problematic in the opening practice session of the season. Whilst Nakajima contends with a puncture, his Williams teammate, Rosberg is flying putting in a 1:27.293 to move into second place.
Following Rosberg's run, most cars have returned to the pits. Only Barrichello and Bourdais are still circulating. Barrichello makes minor improvements by two tenths of a second, however his next lap sees him run wide at the first corner, ruining that lap. Bourdais meanwhile is struggling, he is failing to improve on his eighteenth fastest time. He makes minor improvements but remains stuck in eighteenth.
Nakajima, back on track after his puncture makes an impressive improvement to his time to move from fourteenth to sixth. Kovalainen then improves his time to move into third with a 1:27.453. Teammate Hamilton also on track still continues to struggle, he locks up and goes off the road at turn 6. It is proving a nightmare of a session for the reigning champion who sits only fifteenth in the standings.
Sutil continues to run well for Force India, he moves his car into seventh place with a 1:27.993. With five minutes to go, the top five reads Räikkönen, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Button and Barrichello. After his soft tyre run, Räikkönen commenced one final run on the harder tyre, he unsurprisingly did not beat his earlier time. Alonso meanwhile is still struggling in the Renault, he is seen struggling to exit the first corner and apply the throttle.
As the session is about to come to a close, Williams suddenly begin to demonstrate their faster runs. Rosberg takes the fastest time with a 1:26.687. Nakajima then improves to fourth and then on his final lap he moves into second place with a 1:26.736. The final bit of action in the session is seen when Kubica is bauked by a slower car on his final run.
FP1 Results Edit
|9||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||20||1:27.993||+1.306|
|11||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||20||1:28.137||+1.450|
|13||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||22||1:28.511||+1.824|
|14||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Mercedes||16||1:28.603||+1.916|
|15||12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||27||1:28.785||+2.098|
|17||14||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault\||7||1:29.081||+2.394|
|18||8||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Renault||25||1:29.461||+2.774|
|19||11||Sébastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||21||1:29.499||+2.812|
|20||15||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||4||1:32.784||+6.097|
The drivers spared no time waiting in the garage following the commencement of the session, more than half the field had ventured onto the circuit once the pit-lane light went green. Trulli, Glock and Alonso set the first times with Glock going fastest on a 1:31.466. The home talent of Webber then went fastest with a 1:30.662 before Glock retained the top spot on his second lap with a 1:29.670. The Force India's continued to show potential, Fisichella was third fastest before teammate Sutil took the top spot with a 1:29.335. Following Sutil across the line was Nakajima who moved into second place. The lap times however continued to drop, Kovalainen went fastest seven minutes into the session with a 1:28.597.
Eight minutes into the session, Sutil makes a mistake and runs wide into the gravel whilst Alonso, still struggling with the handling of his Renault has a dramatic spin at turn four. Despite the spin, Alonso continued on with his car being undamaged. The only cars who had yet to show their hand were the two Ferrari's, the two Brawn's and the lone Williams and McLaren cars of Rosberg and Hamilton. After nine minutes, only Button and Barrichello remained within the pits. The Force India's running well on soft tyres saw Sutil regain the top spot with a 1:28.111. Behind Sutil came Kovalainen, Nakajima, Vettel and Fisichella to round out the top five. Rosberg's first lap saw him move up into third position, one place ahead of teammate Nakajima. Hamilton's first time is significantly worse, he only manages the eighth fastest time. The Ferrari's are also not performing at their best, rounding out the lower half of the top ten also.
Eleven minutes into the session and the track is extremely busy, nearly all the cars are out on track. Sutil becomes the first driver to return to the pits, he had completed a number of early fast laps on the soft tyre. As Sutil returned to the pits, the on-track action got more intense. The top ten were only a second apart on lap times and all the drivers were looking for clear space to get in a good lap time. Webber was setting a number of fast laps, he sat third on the time sheets, the Red Bull team desperately trying to make up for lost time after their disastrous morning session.
Glock was then quick to unseat Webber from third, before Hamilton moved ahead of both of them to take the new third fastest time. The time was promising for McLaren, especially considering the best Ferrari man of Räikkönen sat in eighth position. However attention was soon drawn to Button in the new Brawn car, on his first lap Button moved to the top of the leaderboard with a 1:28.002. His second flying lap is even faster, a 1:27.883, the new benchmark. However Trulli quickly set the new fastest time with a 1:27.168 with soft tyres. Nonetheless, Button's best on the hard compound had Brawn's rivals wary.
Twenty minutes into the session, only Barrichello remained of those who had not left the pits. His initial lap time puts him sixth fastest, a quick time but not as threatening as his teammate's time. Force India continue to impress, Sutil begins to lap competitively, his initial lap put him fourth, following another lap that put him second. Fisichella is also impressing, upon his return to track, his time is good enough for third place.
The speed of the Toyota's and Force India's meant the track was now optimal for soft tyres. Glock moved into the top spot ahead of teammate Trulli. Vettel sets his first competitive lap of the weekend, the Red Bull driver on the soft tyres moves his car into third position. Rosberg in the Williams who was languishing down in eleventh, then made another quick time, moving up to second place with the soft tyre. It was evident the McLaren's were still struggling, Kovalainen had a heavy lock-up going into the first corner, the Finn exits the gravel, his car largely unscathed.
Both Glock and Rosberg are pushing hard, the two timing sheet leaders are continuing to put in a series of hot laps, they both are improving, however it is Rosberg with a 1:26.293 that takes the top spot. The second Toyota of Trulli then improves to put his car into second ahead of Glock.
After their torrid morning session, Red Bull are running well in afternoon practice, Vettel sits fourth whilst Webber is sixth fastest in between the two Force India's of Sutil and Fisichella. The Brawn's had dropped out of the top runners during the migration to soft tyres. Barrichello was the first Brawn out with soft tyres, however missed his braking point into turn one and ruined his lap. His next lap however sees an improvement which puts him into fourth place. The pace of the Ferrari was worrying, their fastest runner of Massa was only running as high as eighth after a long continuation of laps. Massa drops a further place when Button improves his lap time to go seventh on the soft tyres.
Heidfeld appears to be struggling, of the twenty runners, the BMW Sauber driver cannot find any pace and is struggling in last. The McLaren's are also having a difficult time, Hamilton had returned to track, however both he and Kovalainen were struggling. However more so than McLaren, Renault appear to be struggling bad. Their top driver, Alonso is struggling to make any effect and disappoints only in seventeenth position.
Rosberg continues to lap well, a new best time of 1:26.053 creates a new benchmark for the rest of the field. After a long string of laps, Massa has pitted on the hard tyre. The second Williams of Nakajima who was running down in thirteenth then made a sudden improvement on his soft tyre run to take sixth position. There is also slight drama for Rosberg, the session leader when he nearly collides with debutant Buemi in the first corner. The young Swiss driver who was attempting to learn the circuit for his first race did not see the Williams in his mirrors and blocked Rosberg's manoeuvere into turn one. Buemi was placing in a lowly seventeenth.
The manufacturers appear to be struggling, neither Ferrari, McLaren, Renault or BMW Sauber appear to be running well for pace. Kubica who improves to go twelfth complains that his car is 'sliding everywhere'. Teammate Heidfeld is having more problems, his car struggling in only eighteenth. Rosberg continues to lead the timesheets ahead of Trulli, Barrichello, Webber, Glock and Nakajima. The Renault's are the slowest cars on track, Piquet is only nineteenth whilst Alonso is remarkably last. Following the two cars exiting the pits, Piquet improved to go seventeenth whilst Alonso improves substantially to go twelfth. Räikkönen meanwhile fell to last for Ferrari, the Finn had not been seen on track for sometime and was out of the car, working with the mechanics in the garage.
Whilst the manufacturers continued to struggle, the pace setters were also encountering troubles. Fifth placed Glock ran wide at turn three going deep into the gravel, luckily the Toyota driver was able to recover and get back on track. However only a minute later, Vettel in the Red Bull spins his car at turn three. The young German is not as fortunate as his compatriot and is bogged in the gravel. Vettel is forced to exit the car whilst the marshalls craned the Red Bull away.
Following the end of the yellow flag period and the removal of Vettel's car, the two Ferrari's returned to the track. Massa was fitted with the soft tyres whilst Räikkönen was equipped with the harder compound. After a big moment of oversteer in the final corner, Massa fails to improve on his best time. Hamilton returning to track is also struggling, his best time only puts him sixteenth in the placings whilst on the soft tyre.
Despite running well for Force India, Sutil complains over the team radio that his car is undriveable. His race engineer, Brad Joice, responds that it may simply be a characteristic of the softer tyre they are running. Another annoyed driver was Hamilton, the frustrated McLaren driver reported over the radio that the car was bottoming out so badly that he could no longer see when the car hit a bump in the heavy braking zones. Massa who has attempted to go for a long run on soft tyres is also struggling. The Ferrari is not handling the faded softs well, Massa runs wide at turn fourteen, then on his next lap he also goes wide onto the grass heading to turn one. Räikkönen now running the soft tyres sets a best time to go fourteenth fastest.
In the final few minutes, there was little improvement in lap times indicating that grip levels had began to deterioate. Barrichello was leisurely running on the softs whilst Rosberg returned to track for one final run. Rosberg is unable to get a clear run for a hot lap due to the heavy traffic. Sutil is one of the few to improve his time, going ninth fastest on his final run. Rosberg then improves the fastest time of the day to a 1:26.053 before pulling into the pits to conclude their session.
Rosberg ended the day on top with Barrichello and Trulli in second and third. Interestingly, the three teams that were involved in the use of the questionably legal double diffusor, Williams, Brawn and Toyota, were also the fastest teams of the day. Whilst a new order was being established, the traditional leaders of Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW Sauber were struggling to find pace.
FP2 Results Edit
|4||14||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||30||1:26.370||+0.317|
|8||15||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||19||1:26.740||+0.687|
|9||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||29||1:27.040||+0.987|
|13||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Mercedes||32||1:27.282||+1.229|
|14||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||34||1:27.317||+1.264|
|15||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||36||1:27.398||+1.345|
|16||11||Sébastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||36||1:29.042||+1.426|
|19||8||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Renault||35||1:27.828||+1.775|
|20||12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||33||1:28.076||+2.023|
Williams, Toyota and Brawn looked to be fastest in the Friday practice, ironically the same three teams were subject to an appeal from Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull about the legality of the double diffusor device that they were running. Nonetheless the appeal date was set for the 14th April, not until before the Chinese Grand Prix would the device's legality be decided. Nonetheless, the appeal would not influence the Australian race, the diffusor teams seemingly having the advantage at the moment. Brawn were especially happy, only a few weeks ago the team's survival was in question, however after practice, the team's future was looking much more bright, the BGP 001 was looking incredibly quick but equally as important, the team had secured a major sponsership deal from the Virgin Group. Shortly before Saturday practice, Ross Brawn and Nick Fry of Brawn GP held a press conference alongside Virgin CEO, Richard Branson, to announce the new partnership between the organisations. From Saturday onwards, the Brawn cars would carry the sponsership logo's of the Virgin Group.
The cars were straight out of the garages at the beginning of the session, the two Toyota's of Glock and Trulli led the field out of the garages and onto the field. Fifteen drivers go out of the pits at the green to complete an initial installation lap. Rosberg is told over the radio to take of the tyres as he will have to use the set in the race. In the intial minutes only Räikkönen's Ferrari and the two Brawn cars remained in the pits. Following Räikkönen's departure, the two Brawn's briefly remaining in the pits before leaving, Barrichello leading Button. The two cars now branded with the Virgin logo's on the car, their new sponsor, Richard Branson watches on from within the Brawn pit garage.
Once all the cars had completed their installation laps, the track fell quiet once again as the team's commenced their telemetry download. The waiting game as the team's patiently await the first driver to dare go out and lay down some grip on the circuit. In the Red Bull garage, Vettel discusses with his engineers whilst Webber sits atop a tool chest laughing with his mechanics. However others are more eager to go out on track, the debutant Buemi sits within his car as does Kubica. Even more daring, Glock, Piquet and Räikkönen become the first drivers to head out on track to set fast laps. As Piquet completes his first lap, he sets the first time of the day. However this is quickly beat by Glock and then Räikkönen behind him. The other Renault of Alonso also emerges from the pits. Alonso's first time is the quickest, taking the fastest time at 1:28.758, a second faster than Räikkönen. However its the Brawn of Button that is looking the fastest, he is fastest through the first two sectors, however loses about five seconds in the final sector to post a time that put him only seventh fastest.
Twenty three minutes into the session and Räikkönen grounds to a halt on track at turn eleven, a hydraulics problem bringing his session to a premature end. As Ferrari's woes continue, the new leading cars of Williams and Brawn were ever improving. Rosberg posted a time to go third fastest until, Button, now on his second flying lap went fastest with a 1:27.863. Button leads the session ahead of Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, and Fisichella. The Williams's however continue to demonstrate their practice pace, Rosberg goes fastest with a 1:27.782 ahead of teammate Nakajima who took second. Over the team radio, Rob Smedley alerts his driver, Felipe Massa is told he can use the new in-car adjustment control for the front wing angle if he needs it.
Barrichello then takes the top spot with a time of 1:27.729, the Brawn leads Rosberg, Nakajima and Button. However it is short lived, Vettel in the Red Bull becomes the next driver to take the top spot with a 1:27.284. After a poor early showing on Friday, the Red Bull team are starting to look competitive.
Thirty minutes in and Räikkönen is seen wandering back into the paddock, the Ferrari's still having a lot of work to do to be competitive. Likewise at McLaren, Kovalainen one of the last drivers to set a timed lap only manages eighteenth fastest. Teammate Hamilton is sitting in sixth place.
Vettel further drops the benchmark after setting a 1:27.009, the Red Bull continues to put in quick laps. The final driver to not set a time is the Force India of Sutil, he finally exits the pits 33 minutes into the session. He would set a reasonable time to go tenth fastest just behind teammate Fisichella. At the same time, the Brawn of Button exits the pits to begin his second run of laps. Kovalainen begins to improve, after a couple of laps he puts his car from eighteenth to third. However a spin at turn four the following lap underlines the continued handling problems of the McLaren.
Button then moves into second place, a good time but still short of Vettel's best. However the next lap Button takes the top spot with a time of 1:26.691. The Toyota's further demonstrated their pace when Glock manages to put his car into second, the German setting the fastest first sector time in the process. However the Brawn of Barrichello then undermines that time to make it a Brawn one-two in final practice. Barrichello's next lap sees him lower the bar further when he sets a 1:26.489 to go fastest. Trulli is the next driver to set a fast time, he moves his Toyota from fifth to second in the timing standings. The sole Ferrari of Massa continued to circulate, the Ferrari had been struggling in eighth, however a strong time that put him third as well as a fastest middle sector was reconcilable for Ferrari.
Almost simultaneously, the Williams of Nakajima and Vettel's Red Bull shoot wide heading into turn one. Nakajima continues fine, however Vettel nearly lost total control of the car. He returns to the pits, reporting on the radio that there was a problem with the brakes. BMW Sauber continue to struggle, Kubica's best time is good enough only for twelfth position. Rosberg meanwhile sets the sixth quickest time, the Williams cars not quite as quick as on Friday. Glock on the soft compound goes fastest with a 1:26.410.
The final ten minutes sees the cars regrouping for their final runs. Barrichello is one of the first cars back out on track, followed by teammate Button. The Brazilian running the soft tyres seems likely to reclaim the top spot from Glock. However on his first flying lap he runs wide at turn nine, spoiling his first run. Button's first time puts Brawn back on top with a 1:26.184. However the Toyota's respond, Trulli retaliates with a 1:25.811, the fastest time of the weekend. Piquet meanwhile continues to struggle with his Renault, his car getting all out of shape at turn six. Button improves his time but is unable to unseat Trulli.
A late run for Heidfeld, finally wields a good time for BMW when he moves into fifth. McLaren are still struggling, Kovalainen is sixth whilst Hamilton is only eighth. The final run for Massa is good enough to put his car into fourth place, Ferrari, BMW and McLaren are all struggling in Melbourne. However a surprise to all, Rosberg continues to improve with the Williams, his final flying lap puts him fastest with a 1:25.804. Teammate Nakajima also improves to take the sixth fastest time. Williams, Brawn and Toyota once again held the advantage ahead of qualifying. The established leaders of Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber and Renault were all left with work to be done.
FP3 Results Edit
|7||14||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||16||1:26.355||+0.547|
|9||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||18||1:26.514||+0.706|
|10||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||19||1:26.555||+0.747|
|13||15||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||12||1:27.009||+1.201|
|14||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||12||1:27.062||+1.254|
|15||12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||36||1:27.152||+1.344|
|16||11||Sébastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||16||1:29.042||+1.426|
|18||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Mercedes||20||1:27.828||+1.775|
|19||8||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Renault||22||1:27.739||+1.931|
With the conclusion of practice, the results seemed to suggest that the double diffusor cars of Williams, Brawn and Toyota had created the early advantage in the championship. Massa's Ferrari was the only driver in the top six at the end of FP3 to not run a double diffusor. Practice had seen difficulty for other big names such as Räikkönen who had encountered mechanical problems, whilst the other two world champions of Hamilton and Alonso languished near the back. The qualifying would take place at an unusually late 5pm start time, nonetheless 74 500 Australian fans still flocked to the circuit for the first qualifying of the year.
As qualifying commenced, the track remained silent, none of the drivers wishing to be on the dirty track thanks to the GT support race prior to qualifying. In the Brawn garage, Barrichello chats to his engineers whilst his team's new sponsor, Richard Branson, looks on with interest. Fisichella becomes the first driver to break the silence, the Force India going out on the soft tyres. Behind him Rosberg, Buemi, Kovalainen, Massa and Räikkönen follow him out on track to commence their first runs. Fisichella sets the intial time whilst debutant Buemi slots in behind him. Rosberg easily ecclipses Fisichella's time with a 1:27.883. Massa then goes faster as well, dropping Fisichella to third. However Force India respond, Sutil's first lap puts him third before the position is taken by Fisichella on his second lap.
Nakajima's opening lap means the Williams cars occupy the first two positions ahead of Massa and the two Force India's. Räikkönen then moves ahead of Massa to take third, the Finn recovering from his earlier morning problem. He then goes on to top the timesheets with a 1:26.615. Rosberg, Buemi and Fisichella have all returned to pits, however Brawn's Button and Barrichello were beginning their first timed laps. The first Brawn laps are unspectacular, Barrichello goes fourth, only to immediately be dropped down to fifth by Webber's Red Bull. Button only manages the twelfth fastest time. The soft tyre runs by Alonso and Hamilton allow them to briefly take the first two positions, however a response by Barrichello on his second timed lap meant he put the car fastest with a 1:26.247. Button has also responded to go second fastest, the Brawn's seemingly establishing themselves amongst the top. Barrichello then further improves with a 1:25.815.
BMW Sauber are slow to enter the track and are among the last to set a time, Kubica only sixteenth whilst Heidfeld is left as the slowest car on track. Fifteen minutes into the first session of qualifying and Trulli, Kubica, Fisichella, Piquet and Massa remain within the dropzone as Heidfeld improves. Kubica then secures his safety by putting his car into fifth position. Nakajima concurrently improves his time to move into fourth position. A run on the soft tyres for Massa puts him well out of the drop zone and into second on the timing sheets. Räikkönen provides hope for a Ferrari revival by going fastest in the first two sectors until he runs wide at turn 14 and manages only fourth fastest.
With two minutes left in the session, Bourdais, Kovalainen, Sutil, Trulli and Fisichella remain within the drop zone. These cars venture out for their final runs as Webber sets the new fastest time on the softs with a 1:25.427. The other Red Bull of Vettel also sees an improvement to move into sixth. The Brawn cars of Button and Barrichello set late session flyers to move back into the top spots.
Trulli left his on-track running until late in the session, of the five drivers in the drop zone he was easily able to make it out and move into seventh place. The other drivers were not so lucky, Sutil had enough time for two laps, however neither of them were quick enough to improve. Buemi who was knocked out by Trulli was already in the pits and so was eliminated from the first qualifying. He would start a respectable sixteenth for his first race. Behind him came a disappointed Piquet, whilst the Force India's practice pace was for naught as Fisichella and Sutil were eighteenth and nineteenth. In the final grid spot was Bourdais, embarrassingly losing out to his new debutant teammate. Bourdais apologised over the radio but in the end it was not enough. Reigning world champion, Lewis Hamilton, was struggling significantly, he had been off the pace all weekend and had finished the session fifteenth, coming too close to elimination.
Shortly after the beginning of the session, Hamilton is confirmed to have a transmission problem in the garage and the team retire him from the session. Hamilton who was already struggling would be forced to start from fifteenth position in the first race of his title defense.
Räikkönen becomes the first driver to head out the pits in Q2 followed by teammate Massa and the Toyota of Glock. Massa goes faster than Räikkönen, however Glock eclipses both in his Toyota with a 1:25.281. The Brawn's are also out early on track, Barrichello is not able to beat Glock's time, however Button takes the top spot with a 1:25.205. Glock returns to the pits whilst Webber takes away the second fastest time in his Red Bull.
McLaren continue to struggle, Kovalainen is the slowest car on circuit and their chances for getting through second qualifying are slim. Also struggling, BMW Sauber sees their best man of Heidfeld sitting in only eleventh. Rosberg's first lap in Q2 sees him move into second position. Kubica also gets in a good lap to put his BMW Sauber into third.
Nearing the conclusion of the session, Trulli, Heidfeld, Nakajima and Kovalainen are at risk of dropping out of the session alongside Hamilton. Kovalainen's chances are dashed as he fails to improve his time. Kovalainen then gives up, he returns to the garage. With no time to return to the track, neither McLaren will be in Q3 for the first qualifying of 2009. The track becomes busy as all the cars enter the track for their final runs.
Barrichello goes fastest with a 1:24.783 ahead of teammate Button. Vettel and Rosberg also improve to go third and fourth fastest. Heidfeld also moves out of the drop zone, putting Alonso into eleventh position. The Renault driver is struggling, his teammate Piquet having already been an early elimination. Heidfeld is not safe, he only improved by one position. When Trulli improved his own time to move into seventh, Heidfeld returned to the drop zone.
At the conclusion of the session, the field saw the departure of the two McLaren's. Their fourteenth and fifteenth fastest times confirming their fears of an uncompetitive start to season. Nakajima, despite his strong practice pace was also eliminated. Alonso, like Hamilton was another champion starting outside the top ten whilst Heidfeld was caught out at the end of the session.
The first qualifying battle of the season would be fought amongst the Brawn's, the Red Bull's, the Ferrari's, the Toyota's and the lone Williams of Rosberg and Kubica's BMW Sauber. Rosberg who had been fastest throughout practice led the field out the pits at the beginning of the final session. Behind Rosberg, the two Brawn's, Räikkönen and Trulli are the first cars out.
The Brawn's pace is immediately evident, despite running wide at the exit of turn twelve, Button gets the fastest initial time with a 1:26.600. Barrichello is second ahead of Rosberg and Trulli. The two Ferrari's do not seem to be as quick as Räikkönen and Massa only manage fifth and sixth.
Rosberg manages to further improve his time, however it is still short of the leading Brawn's of Button and Barrichello. After Red Bull's initial laps, Rosberg is bumped down to fifth as Webber and Vettel go faster. Massa meanwhile is struggling on the harder tyre, he believes he has a puncture but the team are not so sure. Glock and Trulli are only managing the seventh and eighth fastest times.
As the cars enter their final lap runs, Barrichello sets the new provisional pole time with a 1:26.505. However his final time was not enough, Button further improved on his final lap to improve the provisional pole time with a 1:26.202. Kubica completes an incredible effort for BMW Sauber to take third fastest despite setting only one flying lap in the session. The Red Bull's are out on track, Webber's final run is dismal and can only manage the final top ten position, however Vettel gets a remarkable third for the team.
At the conclusion of the session, Brawn have returned from the brink, both Button and Barrichello round out the front row where only a couple of months ago, pundits were predicting neither driver would be in Formula One for 2009. Vettel does an excellent job to get third ahead of Kubica, Rosberg, Glock, Massa, Trulli, Räikkönen and Webber.
Qualifying Results Edit
Shortly ahead of the race, the traditional driver's season opening photograph. The twenty drivers organised into three rows stood at the front of the grid as the photographers snapped a rare sight of the Formula One field standing together. The two great 2008 rivals, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, sitting side by side for the photographs. Following the season opening photo's, the drivers' commenced the track parade. The traditional historic cars that took the drivers around the circuit were replaced in 2009 by fire trucks from the Melbourne fire brigade. The move signifying Formula One paying its respects to the victims of the recent Victorian Bushfires, Australia's worst natural disaster.
Thereafter the driver's prepared their cars to make an entry onto the grid. The Williams cars of Nakajima and Rosberg become the first to assemble on the grid. Following them came Hamilton, taking the installation lap to ensure his new gearbox works correctly. Kovalainen and Kubica also make their way to the grid as do the two Ferrari's. During the installation lap, Sutil runs wide at turn fourteen and into the gravel. Luckily he rejoins the track without problem and assumes his grid position.
On the grid, Webber exits his car to discuss matters with his physiotherapist, Roger Cleary. Phil Prew is running Lewis Hamilton through the race plan whilst Button casually chats to his own engineer, Andrew Shovlin. Renault and Red Bull bosses, Flavio Briatore and Christian Horner talk together ahead of the start whilst Ron Dennis, no longer in team colours following his resignation as the McLaren team principal jokes with Force India bosses, Vijay Mallya and Robert Fernley. Dennis appears relaxed in his new role, he also converses with Brawn CEO Nick Fry before the start of the race.
Dannii Minogue, the Australian singer is one of many celebrities at the opening race of the season. Minogue notably being a friend to pole sitter, Jenson Button. Ahead of the start, Alonso is intense discussion with Renault engineers, Simon Rennie and Alan Permane. Webber is briefly brought out of his pre-race preparations as he meets with various Australian VIP's alongside Australian Grand Prix Chairman, Ron Walker.
Ross Brawn confirms to Martin Brundle of the BBC that the only order he gave to Button and Barrichello is to "not hit eachother". He also outlines concerns that small gearbox concerns are a small problem in an otherwise flawless opening to the season. The Brawn mechanics are huddled around their cars, the team's mechanics attempting to block the view of a large collection of rival team's engineers assembled on the grid to observe the apparent new top team. McLaren are the most prominent observers of the Brawn, their designer, Pat Fry, keenly observing the Brawn's. Button disappears off grid for as long as possible to avoid the media deluge that swarms his car prior to the start. Teammate Barrichello instead is happy to handle the media, he happily chats to journalists before being forced to move away from his car due to the media attention. Apart from a quick interview to Martin Brundle, Button largely did not interact with the media prior to the start.
Michael Schumacher continuing to act as Ferrari consultant stands between his team's cars on the fourth and fifth row. Schumacher providing an interview to RTL's Tanja Bauer. Thereafter, Schumacher moves to chat with Massa and his engineers prior to the start. He is also seen discussing matters with his old boss Ross Brawn. At the back of the grid, Hamilton continues to prepare for the race, discussing matters with his engineers and Mercedes boss, Norbert Haug.
The start time of the Australian Grand Prix was an unusually late 5pm, the grand prix at Albert Park being hosted as a sunset event for the first time. These new conditions on the circuit prevented threats of visibility, such as the glare from the setting Sun and the lack of light around the circuit as daylight draws to a close. The Brawn team are in a position where they can not only win their debut race, but instead score a 1-2 finish for the team.
"Plenty of weaving to keep the heat" is the command to Button from his engineer, Andrew Shovlin on the formation lap. Ahead of the race, most of the front runners are equipped with the harder compound tyre. However unusually, Kubica's BMW Sauber and the two Ferrari's of Massa and Räikkönen were all starting on the soft tyres. Most of the tail-enders of the field were also on the soft tyres, hoping for a good start to the race on the less durable but more grippy tyre.
Button made a perfect start, his Brawn taking off into the lead at the first corner. Teammate Barrichello however nearly stalled and got off the start line dreadfully. Heading into the first corner, Barrichello was swarmed by cars around him heading into turn one. Taking a tight inside line into the first corner, Barrichello was forced to brake early to avoid the turn one traffic jam. Kovalainen hit his car from behind which in turn pushed Barrichello into the car of Mark Webber, forcing the Red Bull into the side of Heidfeld's BMW Sauber. Webber performed a half spin, colliding with the side of Kovalainen's McLaren. There was mayhem through the first corner, Heidfeld had spun off into the gravel whilst Alonso had to taking avoiding action through the gravel. Sutil collided with the rear of Bourdais as a result of the initial accident and destroyed his front wing.
After the confusion of the start, Vettel managed to snatch second place whilst behind him, Massa and Kubica were battling for third in the opening corners, the Ferrari driver winning out after a dive down the inside of turn three. Kubica was then challenged by the second Ferrari of Räikkönen heading into turn eleven, however the BMW driver held his position. Rosberg had an initially strong start to climb to third, however by turn three he was forced wide by the battling Massa and Kubica and dropped to sixth behind Räikkönen.
Despite the first corner shunt, Barrichello, continued relatively unscathed, he emerged from the carnage in seventh position. This was more than could be said for the other participants of the accident. Heidfeld had destroyed his left rear tyre in the crash and was forced to pit for repairs. Webber also had lost his front wing, a disappointing result for him and whilst he could continue, he was a lap down on the leaders following his pit repairs. Sutil, like Webber would also be in need of a new front wing, however Kovalainen was forced to come into the pits and retire with a bent left-front suspension.
However the accident had benefitted the tail-enders of the field, Lewis Hamilton had rose to thirteenth following the shunt, whilst the two Toyota's starting from the pit-lane had also emerged on the tail of the field following the first lap. On the second lap, Hamilton attacked Bourdais for twelfth. His first move sent him to deep into the corner, allowing Bourdais to repass, however at turn 14, Hamilton was able to successfully get past the Toro Rosso. Over the next two laps, he managed to pass Fisichella and Buemi to break into the top ten. Hamilton then began to close on Piquet and Nakajima ahead of him. A mixture of the soft tyres and low fuel level however made pundits wary of whether this was true competitiveness from McLaren.
At the front, Button began to extend his lead. He was remarkably 3.9 seconds ahead of Vettel at the end of the first lap, Vettel behind him was quick, however Button continued to extend his lead. The three soft tyre runners of Massa, Kubica and Räikkönen were initially able to keep pace with the top two, however after the fourth lap, the cars began to feel the degradation of the softer compound and began to drop back.
Whilst one Brawn was leading, the Brawn engineers were carefully monitoring the second car of Barrichello. Jock Clear confirmed to Barrichello over the radio that there was damage to the left front flap, however the team believed it was not significant enough to pit for repairs. Vettel had began to respond to Button's pace, on the fifth lap, the Red Bull had gained three tenths to the rear of the Brawn's car. However the next lap, Button responds by setting a time of 1:28.787, the fastest lap of the race. Vettel, however is only a tenth off the Brawn's pace and looks competitive.
Hamilton meanwhile battles with Piquet for ninth place. Heading into turn ten, Piquet runs wide, allowing Hamilton an opportunity up the inside. Piquet, however slams the door shut which forces Hamilton to wait for another opportunity.On the seventh lap, Hamilton finally gets around Piquet heading into turn 13. The laps stuck behind Piquet had allowed Nakajima to get clear air and distance himself from Hamilton by seven seconds.
Behind Piquet comes Buemi, Fisichella, Trulli, Alonso, Bourdais and Glock, battling at the back. Heidfeld and Sutil were heavily distanced whilst Webber was a full lap down on the leaders. Buemi is congradulated by his engineer for his eleventh position in his first race, however he is reminded to keep calm and attempt to maintain the gap to the long train of cars developing behind him. In the minor placings, Glock also manages to overtake Bourdais to take fifteenth.
The Ferrari's continued to struggle, the two cars running two seconds a lap slower than Button's leading Brawn. Räikkönen had fallen back and was now in the clutches of Rosberg and Barrichello behind him. Despite his damage, Barrichello was still lapping competitively, behind only Button and Vettel in lap times. He desperately needed to dispose of Räikkönen and Rosberg to remain in competition for the lead. Likewise Rosberg is told over the team radio that he needs to pass Räikkönen in order to keep his chance for a podium. In response, Rosberg dives down the inside of Räikkönen heading into turn one of the tenth lap. He makes the move whilst Barrichello behind him, attempts a move down into turn three. However as Barrichello sizes up the move, he briefly loses control of the rear of the car and slides into Räikkönen's Ferrari. Barrichello loses a loose piece off his front wing, however as it was already damaged on the first lap, the further damage was minimal. Räikkönen slides wide allowing Barrichello to move into fifth place.
In response to the loss of position, Räikkönen returned to the pits to put on the harder compound of tyre. Räikkönen rejoins the track in fifteenth. Massa's soft tyres are also not faring well, he was facing a challenge from Kubica and Rosberg behind him. The soft tyres were beginning to run their course, Trulli had already pitted and a lap after Räikkönen, Massa came into the pits as well. Hamilton also on the softs pitted the same lap as Massa, he had to endure a long pit-stop as his team put in a heavy fuel load to his car. Further down the field, Bourdais was also into the pits for the medium tyres.
Kubica was fairing better on the soft tyre in comparison to his Ferrari rivals, however with increased pressure from Rosberg and Barrichello behind, he decided to come into the pits for new tyres. Kubica exited the pits in twelfth, just behind Massa ahead of him. Following the first round of pit-stops, Button continues to manage a comfortable lead at the front ahead of Vettel. Now in third, Rosberg is performing well for Williams, however being stuck behind the soft tyre runners had meant he was distanced from Button and Vettel. Behind him, Barrichello remained on his tail, however whilst still quick, the second Brawn was encountering handling problems following the damage to his front wing. Nakajima in the second Williams is told over the radio to increase the pace, he too is running competitvely and is only slightly adrift of Barrichello.
Behind the leaders came Piquet, Buemi, Fisichella, Alonso, Glock and then the drivers who had completed their first stop, Massa, Kubica, Räikkönen, Trulli, Hamilton and Bourdais. On lap 17, Vettel becomes the first driver of those who started on the hard tyres to come into the pits. He exits ahead of the battling trio of Fisichella, Alonso and Glock who are fighting for the eighth position. Rosberg then pitted a lap after Vettel, the Williams driver suffered a long pit-stop due to a slow fitting left front tyre. He exited the pits in twelfth, coming out of the pits right behind Räikkönen's Ferrari.
With Rosberg losing position following his dismal pit-stop, Nakajima became Williams's best chance for a podium. However whilst pushing hard to catch the rear of Barrichello, the Williams driver lost the rear of the car heading into turn four and crashed into the barrier. Yellow flags were deployed at turn four as the marshalls disposed of Nakajima's Williams which was stranded in the middle of the track. In response to Nakajima's accident, Brawn brought Barrichello into the pits. It was a long stop, the team heavily fuelling him as well as changing his front wing. Barrichello exited in tenth, the Toro Rosso of Buemi just making it out of the pits ahead of him. Race leader Button who had began to push hard following Vettel's pit-stop, setting a new fastest lap in the process was into the pits a lap after Barrichello. As soon as Button exited the pits, race control brought out the safety car in order to assist in the removal of Nakajima's stricken Williams. Heidfeld becomes the first person to pit twice, he loses sixteenth to the Force India of Sutil.
As the safety car came out, the cars of Piquet, Alonso and Fisichella entered the pits. Fisichella meanwhile managed to miss his pit-box completely, forcing his mechanics to rearrange his car in order to get him serviced. The time lost meant that he would drop out of a potential points finish. During the safety car period Button led ahead of Vettel, Massa, Kubica, Räikkönen, Rosberg, Piquet, Trulli, Buemi, Barrichello, Glock, Hamilton, Alonso, Fisichella, Bourdais, Sutil, Heidfeld and Webber.
Over the team radio, Barrichello is told that his car is looking good shape for the remainder of the race and that the still has a chance for a good result. Hamilton meanwhile in twelfth however is less pleased, he complains on the radio that he struggling to get any heat into his tyres during the safety car period. Although the car of Nakajima had been cleared, there was a delay in getting the race restarted, the lapped cars taking a long time to rejoin their positions at the back of the pack. At the end of lap 24, the safety car came into the pits, Massa had been locking his front tyres up, his engineer Rob Smedley had told him to get as much heat as possible into the tyres as well as to use KERS on the restart.
On the re-start, Button locked his tyres into the final turn allowing Vettel to close on the rear. However the Brawn kept control and led into the first corner. The cars were ever-cautious, the cold tyres after the safety car had left very little grip. Massa immediately fell behind Button and Vettel. Piquet attempted a move on Rosberg down the outside of turn one, however slight contact and the lack of grip sent him spinning into the gravel. The Renault was bogged down and he retired from the race. Over the team radio, the disgruntled Brazilian states "the brakes went crazy and I spun".
Hamilton was on a charge once again, on lap 26 he made a move past Glock to move into tenth at turn eleven. The next corner, Glock ran wide which allowed Alonso to get a good line and take the position heading into turn thirteen. The field is beginning to space out once again, Button is opening out a lead to Vettel. The lone Williams of Rosberg is struggling to get past the Toro Rosso of Buemi who is defending well in his first race. Further down the field, the two Force India's squabble over thirteenth. Sutil attacks and passes at turn three, Fisichella however puts up a spirited defence and the two nearly touch.
On lap 32, Massa comes in for an early second stop, he puts on fresh rubber and rejoins the race in fourteenth. He is ordered to push hard if he is to beat Kubica and Räikkönen to third place. Massa having run less fuel than his two rivals had to push hard to maintain his position. A lap after Massa pitted, Trulli makes his second entrance to the pits. Following Massa's stop, Kubica began to push hard, remarkably setting the fastest lap with a 1:27.989. The BMW driver was beginning to close on Vettel ahead of him. Kubica continues to set faster laps, having already used the soft tyre, the BMW driver has a chance to win if both Button and Vettel ahead of him struggle on the soft tyres. On lap 39, Kubica comes into the pits for his second stop as does Räikkönen behind him.
Buemi continued to impress, holding up Rosberg as Hamilton and Alonso also began to close up behind the Toro Rosso. The second Toro Rosso of Bourdais was fairing less well, sitting in fifteenth he had Heidfeld and Webber both pressing to pass him. Buemi was remarkably up to fourth place following Kubica and Räikkönen's pit-stops. Räikkönen was boosted a position when Glock spun at turn fifteen after botching an overtake on Alonso.
Meanwhile at the front, Button continued to lead with a 4.8 second advantage to Vettel in second place. On lap 43, Buemi pitted from fourth rejoining the race in fourteenth. A lap later, Hamilton had entered the pits to complete his second stop. The McLaren driver had been continuously gaining on Rosberg's fourth place. Barrichello was sitting in third, the safety car period had swung in his favour and he was still in for a good result. Hamilton exits the pits just ahead of Massa, the two drivers battling into turn three. However its Hamilton who takes the position, Buemi behind even attempts a move on Massa to no avail. The same lap, Räikkönen spins at turn 13, gently nudging the front wing into the wall. He exits but must complete a third pit-stop, his afternoon being seriously compromised.
The order at the end of lap 45 read Button ahead of Vettel, Barrichello, Rosberg, Kubica, Alonso,Glock, Fisichella, Trulli, Hamilton, Massa and Buemi. The following lap, Vettel pits to put on the soft tyre. It is a quick stop, exiting right ahead of Barrichello's third place. Barrichello attempted a run at Vettel at turn three, however the young German held the position and continued to push. In response to Vettel's stop, Button would come into the pits the following lap. Button was slightly held up by Massa entering the pit-lane to retire with suspension failure. His pit-stop however was slow, the mechanics struggling to engage the fuel nozzle. Nonetheless, he exited the pits well clear of Vettel in second place.
By lap 48, the only drivers not to complete their second stop were Barrichello in third, Alonso and Glock in fifth and sixth as well as Fisichella in eighth. Hamilton in tenth was still in for a chance to get a good result, he was challenging right behind Fisichella and Trulli who were directly ahead of him. Trulli was defending hard, blocking a move by Hamilton into turn thirteen. Both drivers moved ahead of Fisichella who went into the pits at the conclusion of the lap.
At the front, Vettel had closed to within 1.1 seconds of Button, however only three seconds adrift was Kubica sitting in fourth place behind Barrichello on the hard tyre. Button is warned on the radio of the potential threat of Kubica in fourth place. The Brawn team is hoping Barrichello in third can be a temporary buffer in keeping Kubica behind prior to his final stop.
On lap 52, Glock comes into the pits for the soft tyre, he exits in ninth position, however Buemi attacks him around the outside, Glock however maintains his position. A lap after Glock, Barrichello enters the pits for his final stop. He is refuelled and rejoins the race with the soft tyre. During the pit-stop, he exits the pits losing a position to Rosberg's Williams. Kubica now free of Barrichello's Brawn is now chasing hard and is quickly closing on Button and Vettel ahead of him.
On lap 53, Alonso becomes the last driver to pit for the soft tyres. He exits the pits in eighth place, however Glock who is just behind him, finally manages to pass the Renault when he gets a good exit out of turn three and overtakes into turn four. Rosberg who had pitted early for the soft tyres suddenly finds his tyres no longer have no grip, Barrichello overtakes him into turn nine and quickly falls back into the clutches of Trulli.
As is evident from Rosberg's handling, the soft tyres are beginning to degrade. Button, ever the expert in tyre management is coping well, however Vettel behind him is coming under serious pressure from Kubica in third. On lap 55, Trulli moves past Rosberg whilst a lap later both Hamilton and Glock are also past. Trulli however makes a mistake in the final corner allowing Hamilton to take third place.
By the end of lap 55, Kubica had caught the rear of Vettel's Red Bull. Vettel gets a poor exit in turn one allowing Kubica to have a strong run into turn three, Kubica attacks around the outside however Vettel closes the door. The two drivers make heavy contact, both driver's suffering major damage to the front of their car. Both driver's understeer off the circuit at turn five and slam into the narrow wall at the side of the track. Kubica's car is completely destroyed whilst Vettel attempts to continue, his left front wheel only hanging onto the car by its tethers.
The safety car is brought out in the final stages, Button looks set to take the victory ahead of teammate Barrichello, the Brawn's remarkably look on course for a one-two finish. There was some final stress though for Brawn, both Ross Brawn and Jock Clear shouting over the radio for Barrichello to slow down. Behind them, Hamilton allowed Trulli to take third place back under the safety car due to his belief he had overtaken Trulli under safety car conditions. As this was untrue, Trulli, appeared to have done an illegal overtake on Hamilton which would potentially render consequences post-race.
Vettel attempted to continue three-wheels behind the safety car whilst sitting in seventh, however the team ordered him to pull over the circuit due to his car being an unsafe hazard. A disgruntled Kubica wandered back to the pits, only to be accosted by journalists on his arrival. Räikkönen had also parked his Ferrari, it had been a dismal race for the Finn, a differential failure sent him into the pits to retire during the safety car period.
The safety car came into the pits on the final lap, with no overtaking allowed Button took an easy run through the final corner to win his second race in his career. Barrichello followed him home in second ahead of Trulli, Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Rosberg, Buemi, Bourdais, Sutil, Heidfeld, Fisichella and Webber.
A jovial Button bounces from his car in the parc ferme, moving first to congratulate his teammate, Barrichello, as he exits the car and then a brief handshake with the third placed man, Jarno Trulli. Ross Brawn is allowed through into parc ferme to go onto the podium. Button and Brawn congratulate eachother before the duo are ushered towards the stairs to the podium by Herbie Blash. Button shares a brief hug with his physiotherapist, Michael Collier, before moving up the stairs towards the podium.
Barrichello appears pleased with his result, expressing his surprise on being on the podium to Ross Brawn. Trulli meanwhile is content with his position, offering his own congratulations to the trio of Button, Barrichello and Brawn, stating that they deserve it after their troublesome past few months. Barrichello then explains to Button his startline troubles and his car hitting anti-stall. Button also notes to his teammate that he too had struggled without a drinks bottle the whole race whilst quickly downing two bottles of water.
On the podium, Button is presented the winner's trophy by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby. The Constructor's trophy presented to Ross Brawn by Harry Stout, the CEO of ING Australia, the race's title sponsor. Barrichello receives the second place trophy from Ron Walker, the Australian Grand Prix Chairman. Trulli meanwhile receives the third place trophy from Andrew Papadopoulos, the Chairman of the Confederation of Australian Motorsport.
Button and Barrichello gave Ross Brawn a good spray with the champagne, before the trio of Button, Barrichello and Trulli dropped their champagne bottles to the mechanics beneath the rostrum to continue the celebrations.
- Debut for Sébastien Buemi, the only rookie at the Grand Prix.
- In the United Kingdom this was the first race to be shown on BBC Sport F1 since the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix, following ITV-F1's 11-year coverage between 1997 and 2008.
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