F1 Race Review: Australian GP 2009

Honda must be kicking themselves! Ross Brawn surely was the happiest man in the paddock when his investment turned out not just quick testing times, but bagged the front row on Saturday and finished 1-2 at the chequered flag on Sunday! For the drivers Jenson Button and Reubens Barrichello who almost saw their exit from F1 after Honda pulled out blaming costs, this dramatic twist must have seemed more like a daydream!

A brand new team ending with a 1-2; the last time this happened was in 1954 at Reims in France when the eventual Champion Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling finished a tenth of a second apart in their Mercedes. It’s just different in the sense that there was a third Mercedes that blew its engine. Four Alfa Romeos achieved a similar result in the first ever F1 race at Silverstone in 1950 where Champion Nino Farina led a 1 to 4 finish.

Many thought that Brawn GP was good only in testing! It isn’t unusual for smaller teams to run light and post good times so as to attract sponsors. Brawn’s might was visible on Saturday when it topped the sheets in all three Quarters. Massa who had underplayed their chances for Ferrari started at P6 with Kimi in P7. McLaren seemed lost on Saturday with Lewis not setting a time in Q2 and starting at a lowly P18 after a gearbox penalty.

The race on Sunday was Pole to Finish for Button, barring two safety car distractions. But, Barrichello initially dropped places after anti stall kicked in at start. Vettel edged ahead into second with Kubica and Massa in tow. Ferrari’s race was in the ruins; the first was with tyre degradation on the option, then mistimed pit stops and safety car periods. While Massa retired for bad suspension Kimi was qualified 16 after his differential failed.

Lewis Hamilton did a zero to hero from 18th to fourth using KERS intelligently. After the finish, third placed Trulli was penalized for overtaking under the safety car, thus passing the third to Lewis. For Button, this was the 200th win for a British Driver and this time it was Brit cars in a 1-2-3. The British fans couldn’t have had it any better! Part credit for this goes to Vettel & Kubica who knocked each other out while running in second/ third.

With Trulli down Toyota found solace in Glock’s fourth followed by Alonso, Rosberg, debutant Buemi and Bourdais finishing in the points. Four teams Force India, BMW, Red Bull and Ferrari go home empty handed. Notwithstanding the surprise result, the race weekend was also marred by doubts over the use of the diffuser that three teams Brawn, Toyota and Williams ran. Teams are now questioning the usefulness of KERS too.

One race done and 16 to go, the leader-board is red hot! At least till the next race on the following Sunday at Kuala Lumpur, Briton Jenson Button heads the table with 1 win and 10 points. Barrichello follows him with 8. The reigning Champion Lewis Hamilton is within striking distance at 6 points. Brawn has made the best possible beginning with 18 points followed by compatriot McLaren with a third of those points. So long till Sunday!