Photo by Henrique Picanco.
A new world order has been established in Formula 1 after Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello capped off a fairytale debut for Brawn GP with a one-two finish at the Australian Grand Prix.
Button dominated the event from pole, surging ahead of the field as he overcame an early challenge from surprise contender Sebastian Vettel before securing the second victory of his 156 race career.
The race was a far different proposition for Barrichello however, with the Brazilian involved in a first corner scrimmage which claimed the race of Heikki Kovaleinen and effectively punted Mark Webber out of contention. In doing so, he also broke the Brawn's much-vaunted diffuser, rendering it useless and making Barrichello's performance all the more remarkable.
Photo by elContragolpe.
The result marked the first time since Mercedes in 1954 that a team has secured the top two places of the podium on debut; a phenomenal achievement considering the team was only formed two months prior to the race.
Despite the commanding nature of his win, Button said the race was more difficult than it appeared, with the rapidly lowering sun effecting visibility at certain parts of the circuit.
?It was really difficult. It is strange for such an open circuit, you could not see the exit of the corners at all. I used a visor that was slightly tinted and that was the correct thing to do. But with the glare from the sun and the change in light from the trees it was so difficult,? he said.
?It was so easy to put a wheel wrong and the problem was the bad light was always on the most difficult corners, so it made it tough and on the prime tyre also we were struggling for heat. I just couldn?t get any heat in the tyres in the second stint.?
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was promoted to third following a stewards' inquiry into an illegal pass under yellow flags by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli.
Photo by coldtrackdays.com.
The World Champion drove a solid race, avoiding the opening-corner carnage and taking advantage of the safety car periods to climb through the field from 18th place on the grid, underlining his status as the premier pilot in F1.
Hamilton's final position though was largely determined by luck, after Vettel and Robert Kubica clashed at turn three before promptly veering into opposing walls when battling for second place.
The duo had been sparring all evening, but with three laps remaining, the vastly quicker Kubica lunged past Vettel with Button in his sights.
However, the Red Bull man refused to yield, destroying their chances of landing on the podium before he was subsequently punished by the stewards, who handed him a grid penalty in Malaysia.
Ferrari's afternoon was marred by a combination of poor strategy and uncharacteristic driver error. The team placed Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen on the super-soft tyres to commence the Grand Prix, hoping to use the early grip they generate to compensate for a lack of speed.
Photo by Wenny Wu.
Both Massa and Raikkonen made significant gains from their starting grid postions, sitting third and fifth respectively before the tyres quickly deteorated due to the less-than-ideal track conditions. Unscheduled stops scuppered their chances of landing in the top three.
Kazuki Nakajima's lap 19 accident brought out the safety car, reviving Ferrari's hopes of a solid performace as the pair resumed the positions they occupied after lap one.
It was only short-lived however, as Raikkonen and Massa retired from the race in its latter stages.
Webber meanwhile, struggled throughout, finishing the race a lap behind the winner despite the numerous safety car periods.
With a competitive team mate in Vettel now alongside him, it will be intriguing to see how the Australian reacts, and whether his team continues to tolerate his inconsistent performances.
Right now, Button looks like a regular GP winner, Webber stands alone on the grid as the most unfulfilled talent in F1. Perhaps, finally, questions will be raised regarding his ability as the first corner tumble with Barrichello was avoidable.
Although he is a one-lap demon, Webber's results indicate he lacks the race pace necessary to be a success and could be on his way out sooner rather than later.