Brawn GP drivers, JENSON BUTTON and RUBENS BARRICHELLO started and finished first and second Sunday at the 2009 Formula One ING Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne. It’s been 55 years since a new team has finished 1-2 in its first race.
The 58-lap race was finished under yellow flag conditions behind the Safety Car due to a late-race crash between the two cars who were running second and third.
However, JARNO TRULLI/No.9 Toyota – who started from the pit lane after technical infractions Saturday – was third to take the checkered flag, and he was protested for passing under yellow. Both he and LEWIS HAMILTON/No.1 McLaren, who finished fourth, were summoned to a steward’s hearing.
At issue was whether Trulli passed Hamilton under yellow flag conditions behind the Safety Car.
MARTIN WHITMARSH of McLaren said Trulli went off in the grass, allowing Hamilton to move up behind the Safety Car. Then, according to Whitmarsh, Trulli rejoined the race in front of Hamilton.
The stewards agreed with McLaren and assessed a 25-second penalty to Trulli, moving him down to twelfth place, and moving Hamilton and everyone else up one position. The penalty would have been a ten-second stop and go in an ordinary situation, but it was within the last five laps of the race, so the penalty increased to 25 seconds.
Hamilton finished third, amazing to him and his team considering he started last.
Toyota could appeal the penalty.
As far as the accident which caused the last Safety Car condition – the accident between second-placed SEBASTIAN VETTEL/No.15 Red Bull and third-place runner ROBERT KUBICA/No.5 BMW Sauber – had its own share of controversy. Vettel and Kubica hit, and then both continued on and crashed again, individually. Kubica lost his two left wheels, one of which was left in the middle of the track as a lonely beacon.
BMW’s MARIO THEISSEN laid the blame on Vettel for the accident, and said he thought Kubica could have caught and passed Button, who was admittedly struggling on his soft tires.
The Stewards agreed with Theissen and penalized Vettel a ten-position setback on his grid position in Malaysia next weekend, for “causing a collision and forcing a driver off the track.” He would have been otherwise punished, but didn’t finish the race. Vettel was also fined $50,000. Instead of parking his bent and broken car after the accident, he continued on the track, holding up race traffic which couldn’t pass him due to the Safety Car situation.
Vettel said ““Maybe I should have said let him go and bring third back home, but that’s life. I tried to defend and, up to the mid-corner, I had reason, but then I had no grip to avoid a collision. I’m sorry to the team and also to Robert, as it didn’t just mean the end of my race, but also his.”
Button pointed out that people might say he won because of the diffuser, or that it wasn’t a proper win because the race finished under caution. Button said his diffuser was broken in contact during the race and of no use; and as for finishing under yellow, Button said he’d take it any way he could. He said he’d been struggling with tires, and also visibility was an issue for him, with the sun’s glare and deepening shadows from the trees around the course.
NICO ROSBERG/No.16 Williams, who was fastest in the three practice sessions, turned the fastest race lap of 1:27.706 on Lap 48. He finished sixth.
If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. Local favorite, MARK WEBBER/No.14 Red Bull, was involved in the first lap crash and had to pit for a new nose, putting him a lap down in thirteenth position, last car running. He blamed Barrichello for the accident.
HEIKKI KOVALAINEN/No.2 McLaren was one of those caught up in that crash. He made it around the track to pull into his garage and retired. Others involved were NICK HEIDFELD/No.6 BMW Sauber, and ADRIAN SUTIL/No.20 Force India F1. Sutil and Heidfeld finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
KAZUKI NAKAJIMA/No. Williams, crashed into the wall between Turns Four and Five on Lap 18. He jumped out of the car and behind the barrier, and the safety car did come out.
Also retiring: NELSINHO PIQUET/No.8 Renault after spinning off and into the gravel; and FELIPE MASSA/No.4 Ferrari.
Rookie SEBASTIEN BUEMI/Toro Rosso finished seventh and in the points, just ahead of his teammate, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS.
The Brawn cars were the top finishing diffuser cars. The diffuser issue is under appeal and results could change, depending on the Court of Appeal’s outcome on 14 April 2009.
Hamilton was the top finishing KERS car.
The next race is for the Formula One teams to be all packed and crated for Monday’s flight to Malaysia for next weekend’s second round of the 2009 F1 season.
PROVISIONAL REVISED RACE RESULTS
JENSON BUTTON/Brawn GP 58
RUBENS BARRICHELLO/Brawn GP 58
LEWIS HAMILTON/McLaren 58
TIMO GLOCK/Toyota 58
FERNANDO ALONSO/Renault 58
NICO ROSBERG/Williams 58
SEBASTIEN BUEMI/Toro Rosso 58
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/Toro Rosso 58
ADRIAN SUTIL/Force India F1 58
NICK HEIDFELD/BMW Sauber 58
GIANCARLO FISICHELLA/Force India F1 58
JARNO TRULLI/Toyota 58
MARK WEBBER/Red Bull 57
SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull 56
ROBERT KUBICA/BMW Sauber 55
KIMI RAIKKONEN/Ferrari 55
RETIRED FELIPE MASSA/Ferrari 45 NELSINHO PIQUET/Renault 24 Spin KAZUKI NAKAJIMA/Williams 17 Accident HEIKKI KOVALAINEN/McLaren 0 Accident Damage
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1 – JENSON BUTTON 10
2 – RUBENS BARRICHELLO 8
3 – LEWIS HAMILTON 6
4 – TIMO GLOCK 5
5 – FERNANDO ALONSO 4
6 – NICO ROSBERG 3
7 – SEBASTIEN BUEMI 2
8 – SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS 1
CONSTRUCTORS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1 – Brawn GP 18
2 – McLaren 6
3 – Toyota 5
4 – Renault 4
5 – Williams 3
6 – Toro Rosso 3