Button claims virgin Aussie pole for Brawn GP

Mar.27 (Grand Prix 247) 29-year-old Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula One Team) will be on pole in Australia. It is his first pole since April 2, 2006 with Honda. This pole is a well-deserved one in Button?s 156th F1 race weekend, and the fourth pole of his career. He starts Brawn GP’s first ever race from pole on the same day that the team added the Virgin group as a new sponsor. It is the first time a new team is on pole in its first race since 1970, Jackie Stewart with the Tyrrell. A promising omen for the rest of the season for the British engineer Ross Brawn.

A very happy Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula One Team) commented in the press conference: “This pole-position is where we deserve to be after the tough times we had all winter going from no drive to the excitement of a new team. This morning we did not know what the other teams’ pace was. Q1 and Q2 was very  close between all of us. I was  struggling without fuel and with fuel the car worked well. It is a good asset for the race. It has been a long time for me: 2006 since I last had a pole and it was here in Australia. This does not make this circuit my favourite. But it is a good thing to be on pole. People forget and did not believe I can still make it happen. In the team no-one has forgotten. It is a good car and it is a great moment to be on pole today.”

Behind him Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP Formula One Team) his team mate managed to lock out the front row for the team with a lap of 1.26.505, 0.303s difference to Jenson’s pole time.

Barrichello commented: “I am very pleased to share the front line with my teammate. Everyone that has touched this car in the team needs credit. It is a fantastic car. I want to thank everyone in the team even the boys back home in England and of course Ross Brawn and Nick Fry. In the car, everything is well done and set-up at the millimetre. In Q3, I developed a bit of understeer, but we must be happy even if I regret not to being on pole I am still delighted. I feel younger than most of the drivers. I have shown that there is nothing veteran in myself. I am grateful to have a good car and the last few seasons have been tough.”

In third is Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull Racing) sharing the second row with Poland’s Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team). The young German had a difficult time at the start of the weekend going off track. He commented:
“I am pleased to be on the second row. Yesterday was difficult. So we did not expect this good result. Today was good – even if we could not drive through our preparation  program all weekend yesterday and today in the morning. It was tough and not easy. I am surprised on how close we are to last year’s results despite all the new regulations in place. I was fearing not to make it to Q2. I am looking forward to tomorrow and the good thing is that I know the track from last year which is an advantage. I hope the light will be alright for the race.”

Nico Rosberg (AT&T Williams F1) fought with Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota) for the third row. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) made a small mistake in his qualifying with a wheel on the grass that cost him a tenth of a second and he is in seventh position. Sixth and eighth go to Toyota team with Glock in sixth and Trulli in eighth.

At the start of the first Q1 session, the temperature was just as nicely warm as yesterday on the Australian Melbourne track for the first qualifying of the 2009 season and was stable around 24 degrees Centigrade. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India F1 Team) was the first driver to leave the pits. He scored a fifteenth time ahead of his team-mate after the first laps for Q1.

Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP Formula One Team) was the fastest after five laps with 1.26.247 ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 1.26.454. Then Barrichello took the lead with 1.25.006 in the second part of Q1 ahead of his team mate Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula One Team). Local hero Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) captured 1.25.427 to keep him in third place for Q1 and Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota) clocked 1.25.499. The sensation of the session was when the two Brawns were ahead of the game in the first Q1 while one of the Ferrari, Massa?s was still in the back of the field after 5 laps but the Brazilian made it to third fastest in the second part of Q1.

Of the three World Champions in the field: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) was in 13th before reaching 4th and Fernando Alonso (Ing Renault F1 Team) jumped from 11th to 7th in Q1 ahead of the reigning world Champion, Hamilton in 15th position only. The local hero, Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) came to third fastest to the great satisfaction of the Australian crowd. However, nevertheless six drivers did not make it to Q2 and as a result, in part one of qualifying as all 22 cars ran during the first 20 minutes of the first hour, the five slowest cars who had to drop and fill the final six grid places. They are: Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet Jr, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Bourdais.

After a five-minute break, the times were reset and the 15 remaining cars then had a second 10-minute session. Again, at the end, the five slowest cars drop out and fill places 11 to 15 on the grid. Reigning champion Hamilton did not set a time in Q2 as his car suffered a problem. Jenson Button then (Brawn GP Formula One Team) showed a fast time on his tenth lap with 1.25.205 ahead of a resisting Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) 1.25.241 as Nico Rosberg (AT&T Williams F1) came in second position. But Renault-engine equipped Vettel clocked the fastest time of Q2 with 1.25.121. Meanwhile in the back Hamilton was not running because of a gearbox problem. His teammate Heikki Kovalainen (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) was the slowest of the group. In the end of the second part of Q2, Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP Formula One Team) was the fastest with 1.24.783 ahead of team-mate Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula One Team) who finished with 1.24.855 ahead of Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull Racing). As for him Alonso slipped in the last lap before the chequered flag fell.

At the end of the session five drivers were kept out of Q3, amongst them the two McLarens. They are Nick Heidfeld, Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and the two McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton.

Q3 between the ten remaining drivers the shoot-out started at 17.50 with only 10 drivers in Brawn, Toro Rosso, Williams, BMW, Red Bull, Toyota and Ferrari. Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula One Team) showed a quick 1.26.600 in the first lap ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP Formula One  Team) 1.27.161. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) clocked third fastest ahead of Vettel and Kubica. Ferrari ranked 9th and 10th behind the Toyotas in the first part of Q3. In the very last laps all cars with fresh tires showed an even stronger pace but no one could go faster than the Brawn GP Formula One Team.