Jenson Button and Brawn Mercedes were the first winners of the 2009 F1 season opener at the Australian Grand Prix with the team scoring a fantastic 1-2 with Rubens Barrichello taking the second spot. This is the first time in F1 history that a ‘new’ team had won their first-ever race and scored a 1-2 finish! Tremendous stuff from the team that looked like it won’t even be racing just four weeks ago! Toyota scored a memorable 3rd position with Jarno Trulli as some drama towards the penultimate laps took out the drivers who were in 2nd and 3rd at that point. More on that later though. Lewis Hamilton took a lucky 4th ahead of Timo Glock in 5th, Fernando Alonso in 6th, Nico Rosberg in 7th and debutant Sebastian Buemi scoring the lone point in 8th place.
Update 1: Trulli was later penalised for passing under the Safety Car and had 25s added to his time, dropping him to 12th. Lewis Hamilton, as a consequence is classified 3rd ahead of Timo Glock in 4th, Fernando Alonso in 5th, Nico Rosberg in 6th, debutant Sebastien Buemi in 7th and teammate Sebastien Bourdais in 8th.
Update 2: More drama surfaced later today as McLaren and Lewis Hamilton were stripped off their 3rd place finish and Jarno Trulli was reinstated in 3rd place. The order now reads Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in 1st and 2nd placed followed by Jarno Trulli in 3rd, Timo Glock in 4th, Fernando Alonso 5th, Nico Rosberg 6th, Sebasien Buemi in 7th and Sbastien Bourdais 8th.
The race start was not as dramatic as last year’s but there was a bit of wheel-banging which saw Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld, Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalainen all get damages on their cars. The others continued but it was retirement for Kovalainen. Both the Toyotas started from the pitlane and Lewis Hamilton started at the back of the grid coz of a gearbox change and they came out relatively unharmed after the first corner. The Ferraris made a bold call of starting on the soft compound tyres which saw them gain a few places but as the race went on, they started graining and ultimately ended up slowing them considerably. So it was an early pit stop for them as the rest of the field settled down behind race leaders Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel & Nico Rosberg.
Notable incidents in the race included the spin-off of Kazuki Nakajima which saw the first of the two Safety Car periods and since there was a new rule of keeping the pit lane opened in such times, there was no mad rush to pit. But nevertheless an incident in the pit-lane happened as Giancarlo Fisichella completely missed his pit-box and nearly hit his own crew before recovering. Nelson Piquet spun out on lap 24 into the gravel trap and so did Jarno Trulli but he was able to recover and race again and then Kimi Raikkonen brushed a wall but he also was able to continue. The next Safety Car deployment came with just 3 laps to go as 3rd place Robert Kubica and 2nd place Sebastian Vettel hit each other as the former tried an audacious overtaking manoeuvre from the outside. Both lost their front suspensions and hit the wall at different places with Kubica losing two of his tyres and Vettel his left front. Amidst all this melee, Jarno Trulli managed to pass Lewis Hamilton into third place behind Rubens Barrichello. The Safety Car came in just before the Chequered Flag which Jenson Button took amidst jubilant scenes in the paddocks. Never since 1954 did a new team score a 1-2 in an F1 race and now Brawn Mercedes have done it in a tremendous manner!
A word of caution though: The top two finishers’ results will be under appeal for their cars’ rear diffusers purported illegality and if they lose the appeal, Lewis Hamilton will be declared the winner of the race! And Adrian Sutil will score Force India’s first points!