Brawn GP stuns the doubters

Race Rewind 2008

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello left the Formula 1® world stunned after Brawn GP dominated the first race of their one and only season in 2009.

Formed after the collapse of the Honda Formula 1® team, Brawn GP - led by Ross Brawn - only came together in the weeks before the 2009 campaign.

The team’s testing speed was encouraging but doubts remained as Lewis Hamilton looked to defend his 2008 world title.

A raft of changes to the regulations added to the feeling of unknown heading into the Melbourne season opener, with new rules surrounding aerodynamics, rear wings, engines and tyres tipped to even things up.

There was the introduction of the KERS system, too, an optional device designed to provide drivers with extra speed, while some teams - including Brawn GP - created a double-decker diffuser to increase downforce.

Button and Barrichello set the tone for a brilliant weekend in qualifying, taking positions one and two respectively.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica were on the next row, but Hamilton would have to start from way back in 18th. Local hope Mark Webber started eighth.

Brawn watched on nervously on Sunday as Barrichello almost stalled at the start, barely getting going and being swamped as a result.

Button had no issues, storming to Turn 1 in what was a start-to-finish victory, but carnage unfolded further back in the field as Barrichello tangled with Webber, Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso.

Barrichello also collided with Raikkonen, as Button started to open up a lead on the second-placed Vettel.

Hamilton went from 18th to 12th on the first lap and kept moving through the field before the first Safety Car appeared on lap 18 when Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, up to third due to pit stops, crashed out.

That brought the field back together but Button quickly re-established his lead once the Safety Car departed, as Hamilton continued to move up places, while Barrichello was also setting quick lap times.

An enthralling battle between Vettel and Kubica for second was developing, too, but it culminated in a collision between the pair with just three laps remaining, with both drivers then crashing separately and having to retire.

That saw Barrichello go from fourth to second, before the race ended under a Safety Car as Button claimed just the second race win of his Formula 1® career.

That his teammate took second capped a simply remarkable weekend for the Formula 1® debutants, while Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was third quickest.

Buoyed by the Melbourne success, Button went on to win six of the first seven races of the 2009 season.

That set the platform for his only world title, despite Button failing to win any of the last 10 races of the year. The Brit finished 11 points clear of Vettel and 18 ahead of Barrichello in an exciting campaign.

 

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