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Blast from the past: 2009 Australian GP

Written by Jacob Awcock, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

One of the most famous and impressive moments in Formula 1 history: from near extinction to world champions, the meteoric rise of Brawn Formula One team; from buying Honda F1 for £1 to winning just a few weeks later in Australia no one could have predicted the 2009 season and it all began in Australia at Albert Park. 

The inspired decision by Ross Brawn to install a double diffuser into their car paid dividends for the team, which were most apparent in a dominant display down under.

Having shown strong pace in testing, Brawn arrived in Albert Park with the hope of scoring some points, not least expecting to be in the position of potentially winning a race. 

Yet, on Saturday, expectations were raised drastically as Brawn locked out the front row: Jenson Button on pole followed by teammate Rubens Barrichello, with Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in third place. Red Bull still remained the favourites though, with the new regulation changes, they felt this year was their chance.

The start of something special for Brawn and Jenson Button?; Image Credits: Pinterest

As the lights blinked out Button shot away but the same could not be said for Rubens. He lurched forward as the lights went out, but then stopped for a few seconds before he managed to get going again. Somehow, no one collected him on the start line, but as the field streamed past the Brazilian heading towards turn one, chaos ensued. 

As Barrichello turned in on the inside, he was unaware of Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld on the outside; Barrichello tagged Webber who consequently hit the side of Heidfeld, sending the German spinning around on the grass and dropping him to the rear of the field. 

Miraculously, the Brawn exited the cloud of chaos unscathed and continued, albeit a long way off his second place starting position. But out front it was Button, breaking away in formidable fashion.

2009 also saw the introduction of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) aimed to help improve overtaking for drivers and improve the spectacle of racing for fans; Lewis Hamilton would perform the first KERS-assisted overtake as he shot down the inside of Nelson Piquet Jr into turn 11, all a part of his charge up the field, in his attempt to defend his championship. 

Lap nine and Barrichello was on a charge up the field and his first target was Nico Rosberg in the Williams. But he had ideas of his own and, with Raikkonen up in front, dived down the inside of the Ferrari to promote himself to fifth place on track. 

This gave Barrichello a sniff of a chance as the pair shot down towards turn four, Barrichello braked late and tried to go down the inside of the Ferrari, but Raikkonen closed the door, causing the Brazilian to slam into the rear of the Ferrari, breaking his front wing in the process but still moving up to sixth place.

The first safety car appearance of the day was on lap 17, slowing down proceedings to clear up the debris left by Kazuki Nakajima. The Japanese driver crashed as he came out of turn five: beached on the kerbs. The out-of-control Williams slammed into the wall, launching the car into the air, stricken in the middle of the track.

In a league of his own, Button wins in Australia; Image credits: F1 Fansite

It was only needed for six laps though, and while Button did manage to pull away slightly, his original gap had been slashed, with Vettel much closer than before. Further back, Rosberg and Piquet came to blows heading into turn one, as Rosberg sent the Brazilian spinning off into the gravel, and consequently out of the race.

As the race began to reach its climax, Button had pulled a substantial gap over Vettel, the latter embroiled in a brawl between himself, Kubica and Barrichello. 

On lap 55, the pressure Kubica exerted on the German finally paid off; an audacious move around the outside though did not pay off for the Polish driver, his right rear wheel made contact with Vettel’s car, sending him spinning into the Red Bull, damaging both front wings in the process. 

Miraculously, both managed to continue in the race ,but they had lost crucial time to Button who seemed comfortable up front. Yet the chaos wasn't finished just yet for both drivers: on the entry into turn six, Vettel spun around and into the wall, having broken his front wing just moments ago. 

At the same time, Kubica had a separate accident of his own; his right front suspension folded in from the incident, meaning he was a passenger as he shot head first into the wall. Vettel managed to continue past Kubica and made his feelings apparent to the Sauber driver, as a possible podium for both had been quickly eliminated due to a rash move.  

With only 3 laps remaining, and a safety car out to recover two stricken cars, Button was able to cruise home to victory in Melbourne after a dominant and unpressured drive. 

“Sensational” was how Ross Brawn described the team’s achievement as Barrichello benefited from the Vettel and Kubica shenanigans to secure Brawn a 1-2 finish in their first ever race. 

Jarno Trulli came home in third place, a phenomenal achievement having started the race in the pit lane along with his Toyota teammate Timo Glock, who finished in fifth place at the chequered flag, but would be the talking point of Lewis Hamilton’s controversial disqualification, the Briton having misleading the stewards in an investigation, questioning if Glock had passed him under the safety car. 

Many had predicted Brawn to be laps off the pace in Australia, yet, sponsorless and unfunded, the team rocked up to Australia and pulled of arguably the biggest shock ever in motorsport history; Ross Brawn had developed a beast of a car having just a few months ago been unemployed and out of Formula One. 

Yet a £1 coin was all that was needed to purchase the foundations for what would become one of the greatest Formula One cars and teams to ever grace the grid.


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