After 154 starts; in a car Honda abandoned, in a new team that came together with barely six weeks to prepare, with Mercedes-Benz engines and a last-minute sponsor in Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, Brit Jenson Button capped a Brawn GP 1-2 with team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today.
It was an action-packed start and finish.
Barrichello, the man with the most starts in the history of F1, had a miserable start to the race; his clutch safety pack preventing a decent start and triggering a pile-up on turn one as he dived down the inside. Aussie Mark Webber, along with McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen and Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella, were forced back into the pits to repair the damage, while Barrichello forged on at the request of team boss Ross Brawn despite a damaged front wing.
Massa was forced to retire, leaving Hamilton and both Toyota cars - starting from last and pit lane respectively - to claw back positions and points in the championship.
Button was untouchable, despite a safety car mid-race compressing his lead from seconds back to tenths. And the fight for second and third behind him imploded with three laps to go.
Webber's Red Bull team mate Sebastien Vettel and Williams' Robert Kubica came together in the stoush for second: neither wanted to yield coming in to a corner, and the ensuing contact took them both out of the points race. Ironically, Brawn's Barrichello moved from fifth into second, and Toyota veteran Jano Trulli slotted into third.
The safety car peeled off two laps later, leaving just two corners left in the opening round. The positions remained: Button and Barrichello became the first team to debut and take the first race win since 1954 ( a car which also ran a Mercedes engine...) ,
Trulli ducked and weaved through the field from a pit lane start to third; defending McLaren champ Lewis Hamilton moving from last to fourth, and Timo Glock - also from pitlane - finished in fifth.
Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso finished in sixth ahead of Nico Rosberg. F1 rookie, 20-year-old Sebastien Buemi, had qualified almost two-seconds shy of the leading Brawn cars, but scored a point on debut for Toro Rosso , finishing in eighth place.
Ironically, Mark Webber - who must certainly be the most unlucky man in motorsport - finished in 13th...
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