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New team Brawn GP kicks off season with Australian double

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-30

The Formula One Grand Prix season has begun like a dream for newcomers Brawn GP: British driver Jenson Button (photo) took victory in Melbourne on Sunday, just ahead of his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello.

AFP - Britain's Jenson Button led home a sensational one-two finish for Brawn GP in its debut Formula One team start at the twilight Australian Grand Prix here on Sunday.

Button rocketed away from the pole to lead throughout the 58 laps of the season-opener and kept clear of the mayhem behind him to cruise home in a safety car finish for his second victory in 154 GPs.

The 29-year-old Briton, who led by as much as 34secs at one stage, had 0.807seconds to spare in beating his teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota crossed the line in third, but was stripped of the position by race stewards, leaving world champion Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren-Mercedes another 1.3secs away in third.

It was the first time since 1954 when five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio led home Karl Kling for Mercedes in the French Grand Prix that a debut team had finished one-two in a race.

It also was the first time a new team has won its debut Grand Prix since Jody Scheckter's victory for Wolf in the season-opening race of 1977 in Argentina.

It was a remarkable first race of the season for the Brawn newcomers, who only came into existence on March 6 in the wake of a management buyout of Honda, which quit Formula One late last year citing the global economic crisis.

The team, owned by former Ferrari engineer Ross Brawn, took a maximum 18 constructors' points out of the Australian opener and raised hopes of an unexpected title challenge this season against champions Ferrari and McLaren.

"When I crossed the line, I won the race. I crossed the line first. It doesn't matter how it's done, the safety car wasn't on the track then anyway," Button said.

"It's exactly the same emotion because you've won and in spectacular fashion even though we had the safety car out.

"This win is for me and the team, and that's what I care about. I don't think I need to poke anyone in the eye about what they said about me in the past. I've worked bloody hard to be here."

Button earned more points (10) for Sunday's victory than he did in all of his two previous seasons with struggling Honda (9).

"That's sounds pretty rubbish, doesn't it? Wow! The last two years have been very tough for the both of us and the car was a real handful," Button said.

But there was no denying the superiority of Button's triumph and the sheer speed of the two Brawn cars, which dominated Saturday's qualifying.

Button surged to a big lead off the pole, but Barrichello appeared to stall, was slowly away and fell back to seventh before collecting both Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld on the first turn.

"Right after the start I never imagined we could finish first and second," Barrichello said.

"It was a tough afternoon and I had a lot of adventure there -- there was a lot of overtaking. It was a difficult car because some of the bits were broken and we could see a drop in performance when we were hit from behind."

Button accelerated to a 34-second lead over Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel by the 17th lap before he came in for his first pit stop to refuel and take on new tyres.

The safety car was called onto the track for the first time when Japan's Kazuki Nakajima lost the front end of his Williams car and collided heavily with a wall, forcing him out on the 18th lap.

Button built his lead after the safety car and led Vettel by 5secs after 33 laps ahead of BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica.

Button had built up a 22sec lead over Vettel, enabling him to come in for his second pit stop on the 47th lap to refuel to give him enough to hold on to his big advantage.

Vettel was heading for second place before he collided with Kubica, putting both cars out of the race with three laps left and clearing the way for Barrichello to finish in second.

Trulli finished third but later was relegated to 12th place on a time penalty by stewards for overtaking during the second safety car period, handing the minor podium finish to Hamilton.

Hamilton drove a clever race from 18th on the grid to take third.

Timo Glock was fourth, Fernando Alonso finished in fifth, Nico Rosberg was sixth and Sebastien Buemi finished seventh in his F1 debut.

The second race in the season will take place in Malaysia next weekend.

Date created : 2009-03-29