Brawn GP. That is the name that comes to my head straight away when I think about the 2009 Formula One Australian Grand Prix.
I woke up at the early time of 5:45am in eager anticipation of what could be something quite remarkable in terms of overtaking and some fresh results. The setting was almost perfect down under, taking into account the time setting of the Grand Prix, which took place at a local time of 5pm.
The atmosphere in the paddock and around the race track must have been sensational, as the cars were about to blast their way around the circuit in the late Australian sunshine.
Yesterday it was the same for qualifying too, some of the drivers complaining about visibility, some parts being rather tricky to deal with at times. It was a great qualifying session, I could not remember seeing so many cars close together in terms of time.
But in the end, Brawn GP's pace showed, as the two Team Mates- Button and Barrichello locked out the front row.
Vettel qualified a superb third for Red Bull, and I was hoping for him to do very well, and even win.
Kubica was in fourth and he too, could be in with a sniff of victory.
This left Rosberg in 5th for Williams, unlucky for them, as they showed great pace in all of the practice sessions throughout the whole weekend.
6th was Massa, the first of the KERS equipped cars. Then in 7th was Raikkonen.
Then to roundout the top eighth was Mark Webber, hoping for some success at his Home Grand Prix.
A mention for the current World Champion, Hamilton starting right at the back of the field. Poor qualifying in general, all the team can hope for is some solid points.
The Toyotas originally qualified P6 and P8, but were thrown out of qualifying due to their rear wings 'flexing' out side of the what the regulations state.
So, those famous five red lights counted and went out, and the 2009 season was under way. Button made a great start, looked smooth and calm. Barrichello however appeared very slow off the start line, he actually got his Anti -stall on his Brawn GP slowing him right down, he quickly resolved the problem, but he still lost seven places.
Vettel made a good start too, still had to drive defensively at the start, as the Williams of Rosberg was very close as were the Ferraris of Massa and Raikkonen. The two Ferraris very eager to steam through after gambling to start with the super soft tyre, in the hope that they could get the ground at the start using KERS and the fresh grip of the super soft tyre to leap ahead.
That turned out to be a good tactic I thought. Well It worked well for them at the start, but they began to grain after 12-13 laps, and they soon pitted.
There was a first corner incident, this was all triggered by the slow starting Rubens Barrichello of course, after his poor getaway.
Rubens was on the inside, and well,he braked for his corner, and there was no where for him to go really, and he ended up hitting Mark Webber.
Webber then hit Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber, and this sent Webber on a collision course with the unlucky Heikki Kovalainen. Kovalainen was put out of the race, and Webber was way down from the leaders after the accident.
Webber ending up pitting for a new wing, and Heidfeldalso pitted with a rear puncture.
Button began to stretch out a lead then, with Vettel keeping Button very honest, and in third pace was Massa.
At lap 3, Hamilton from last on the gird, was up to 11th place, after passing Giancarlo Fisichella. A great start by the World Champion.
Button and Vettel then began to set fastest lap times as one tried to pull away as the other tried to catch. They appeared to be evenly matched, but Brawn had more fuel on board.
A driver who was looking smooth and consistent was Nico Rosberg, he began to catch the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, and then passed him on lap 10, it was a nice move, and great for a Williams to be near the front, passing a Ferrari.
Lets hope Williams can continue to improve their car, and stay in touch with the front. It will make it a great season.
Barrichello, after making his awful start, began to find some good pace, even though he damaged his front wing with contact from the accident at the start.
He did not improve the situation, when he then tagged Kimi Raikkonen, but still slithered past. He suffered after that though, his pace began to drop off, and eventually pitted.
He took on a lot of fuel and a new nose, and could then set about getting his race back on track, hopefully with out making contact with anyone!
It must be the toughest car on the grid....
And from that we go to a car that was not so tough, as Kazuki Nakajima slammed into the barrier after accelerating hard out of turn 4, he ran over the kerb, and this sent the car sliding into the barrier. Bad mistake there from the young Japanese driver.
This brought out the safety car. It was rather late in coming out to be honest, but it came out in the end. I thought it was out for a long time, but anyway the debris was cleared, and the pack was bunched up once again.
I noticed Massa locking up his wheels far too much during the safety car period, for whatever reason he thought it would be good, or he had a problem who knows, but surely he would get bad vibration after the safety car would pull in.
They eventually got under way again then, It was still Button, Vettel and Massa. Button locked his wheel at the restart, this gave Vettel and good run on him.
It came to nothing however, and they carried on with Button leading the way.
Further back Rosberg and Piquet were side by side, then as they both braked for turn one, Piquet spun dramatically and went off into the gravel trap. He lost a lot of temperature in his brakes, and on the radio he said his brakes went 'crazy'.
I thought he should have been more cautious. Let Nico by, then ease his way into the corner. Maybe his problem was too major and would have happened anyway. But still not a good start for him in his 2nd season with the Renault F1 Team.
As for the Driver in his first season, Sebastian Buemi that is, driving very well, Staying out of trouble and keeping a solid pace. Not bad, he even out-qualified his Team-Mate for the race. Do we have yet another hot star in the making?
Too early to tell yet. But showing good promise, as is the Toro Rosso yet through the race.
He tries to take on Massa, who has just had Hamilton come out in front of him after Hamilton made a pit stop.
Maybe there is a gremlin beginning to halt the Ferrari's progress. But It is not a gremlin that eventually halts Kimi Raikkonens' Ferrari, as the Finn stuck his into the wall towards the end of lap 45.
Amazingly he is still running, although his position in way down in 16th place.
On lap 47, Massa began to slow, and came into the pits and retired his car.
On the same lap Jenson Button pitted. It was a slow stop, because the first fuel rig had a problem, so they used a back up rig. He lost a good 5-6 seconds, but still came out in front or Vettel.
During all that Kubica found his way up to fourth position and catching everyone. He was on the hard compound tyre, where as the two leaders are on the soft tyre.
This softer tyre was going off after a few laps, so it was not the ideal tyre to be on.
He closed in on Barrichello, but Barrichello then made a pit stop, and came out behind Rosberg.
Barrichello passes a struggling Rosberg however, as his Williams is struggling on the softer compound tyre. The Toyota of Jarno Trulli also closes in on Rosberg.
Trulli passes Rosberg, as does Lewis Hamilton.
Amazing drives from the Toyota cars and Hamilton. They all started from the back of the grid. They were aided by some safety cars of course, but what a finish to the race it was turning out to be.
With 5 laps left, we had Button, Vettel and Robert Kubica all on the Pit Straight. Kubica the one with the pace, Button was told that Kubica is a threat.
Lap 56, and it is make or break time for Kubica.
Vettel ran wide on the exit of turn 1 and this compromised his line and speed, Kubica then with all the flow, came along side him heading into turn 3.
Vettel braked earlier, and Kubica went round the outside. Vettel kept his car in there though, and did not want to give up on his place. The two collided and then span off the track.
The safety car was then deployed and the race was basically over, with Button taking the victory, and the very fortunate Barrichello taking P2. Trulli took P3, but was then given a time penalty for passing Hamilton under a safety car situation.
All in all, it was one amazing season opener, we had crashes, mistakes, safety cars, and a new Team Finishing 1 -2 for the first time since 1954, when the Great Fangio took victory at the French Grand Prix. His Team-Mate, Karl Kling was 2nd.
So an historic day for Formula 1, and a historic season I think it shall be also.
A few points about the race, one comes to mind...
The Kubica and Vettel shunt right at the end. From my point of view, i think it was 50/50. Yes, Vettel was slow out of Turn 1, and he did break earlier. But he had the line into Turn 3, and Kubica could have given more room.
Honestly, he should have still stayed there to fight for his position. And in any case, there was no where else for him to go either. It was pure racing incident for me, as both drivers wanted the place, and both could have done things to avoid it.
Vettel has now been penalised for this, and he even apologized to the BMW Sauber boss Dr. Mario Thiessen after the race. And on the radio he said he was sorry.
This shows he is a gentlemen, but really, I do not believe he should be sorry. Yes sorry it turned out that way, but he was within his rights as a racer to defend his position.
If Vettel was punished for that, why was Rubens Barrichello not penalised for the tag he gave Kimi Raikkonen, in exact same place. Because Rubens gained from that little shunt he gave Kimi.
And Rubens was further behind also!
The boss of BMW Sauber Dr. Mario Thiessen believes Kubica would have went on to win the race, and the pace did show that.So it was a very unlucky racing accident. But it was a 50/50 in my book. And for Vettel to get a penalty, for me, was harsh.
I even saw after the Grand Prix that Eddie Jordan was saying what Vettel said shows a little weakness in his armour.
If it was me, If I was Vettel, I would have been saying that Kubica was to tight and gave me no room at all, and he just turned in towards me.
Nice of Vettel to apologize, but is that being too nice to be a dominating force within Formula One?
Will his competitors think of him as an ' oh it is OK, that is Vettel we can muscle him about' or will they think he is a relentless competitor who will do what he must to do the best he can within the rules?
If someone like Alonso was in his position, he would not have apologized. Because he knows the game. And he should not have to either! Not for an incident such as the one we saw.
Even so, he is still a great talent, and I am sure he will win many races.
There was lots of other issues in the Grand Prix. I thought Hamilton drove a good race, starting right at the back of the field, then eventually coming home in third. Fantastic result that.
His McLaren does not have the pace, but he drove well. And got the maximum from it, no doubt about it. To come home third after the Brawns? Superb.
It is going to be hard for McLaren to get up to speed, seen as testing rules will not allow them to go out trying new parts. They are however one of the most resourceful teams in the paddock.
This will help them hopefully find the grip they need to get closer to the front.
Ferrari seemed to have a good pace, they worked there strategy very well, only for Massa to stop with a problem, and Kimi slamming into the wall. I bet they are still well happy to be way ahead of McLaren. In terms of pace only for the moment though.
No points for Ferrari.
A few other pointers, Buemi, scored points on his debut, and his Team Mate also got a point making it a double points finish for Toro Rosso.
Rosberg showed early promise in the race, but his last stint was his worst, and he faded away, he had a bad pit stop too. All in all though, he stayed out of trouble, and made a sweet pass on Raikkonen. He took 3 points for his 6th place.
The Toyotas, showing much promise over winter, brought good pace with them to the first race. They shot themselves in the foot with the Flex wings, but they bounced back in the race.
A shame for Trulli, who would have taken 3rd place, Because Glock would have been in 5th place, which would have been a good start to the season for Toyota.
As it turned out, Glock took 4th place bringing in 5 points for him and him team, After Trulli was given the time penalty.
The Renault of Fernando Alonso wound up in 5th place. Hard drive, never seemed to have any good pace. His team mate flew of the track with brake issues.
Mark Webber, at his home race, was very unlucky. he was lapped, and finished last.
The Two Force India cars were here and there, they had a good fight between themselves in the race, Fisichella missed his Pit Box at one pit stop! Lucky to eventually get his tyres and fuel.
They finished 9th (Sutil) and 11th (Fisichella).
And last but not least, Brawn GP. What a car they have managed to pull off. I was shocked when I saw their times in testing.
It got me excited about what may be possible for when everyone would arrive at Melbourne.
And I my excitement was fulfilled, they finished 1st and 2nd. Button drove a super race, smooth as silk and handled his safety car moments well. He had a slight problem at one of his pit stops, but he still came out in the lead.
Barrichello, a bit scruffy, but exciting to watch. He was lucky. He gets P2.
They still have diffusers which some teams have lodged protests against, but they are legal. So those teams need to get their act together. We shall see what happens, the 'diffuser' hearing is April the 14th.
Brawn have done the best job so far it would seem, and what a great story it is, and just made a great Australian GP. Melbourne never fails to bring a good race.
Also I would like to give my thoughts and condolences to sufferers of the Australian bush fires.
Many congratulations to Australia and Melbourne for a great GP.
So, a few more days and we are back in Malaysia!
I can not wait! Just like Jenson Button can not wait!
And neither can you!
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