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Page last updated at 02:07 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Australian GP qualifying as it happened

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

By Sam Lyon

To get involved text us on 81111 with FORMULA 1 before your message. (Not all contributions can be used; UK mobiles only; network rates apply)

0720: Well, what a season-opener this is turning out to be huh? Brawn GP are in the process of writing a comeback story the likes of which hasn't been seen since Johnny Cash decided Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" needed a 'tweak', while McLaren are slipping down the pecking order faster than a volauvent at a wedding. Red Bull, BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Toyota and Williams will all feel they are still in the mix this weekend and, with the timings as they are, one has to suspect Sunday's race will be an absolute cracker. Join me tomorrow morning for that, until then get your sleep. That's an order.
Button on pole for stunning Brawn

0717: "We have not just got one, but two great British drivers now AND with an all-British team in Brawn GP. Come on the Brits - this going to be the best year yet!!!"
Anon

0715: Sir Richard Branson looks like he has a clothes hanger stuck in his mouth, so wide is his smile, and who can blame him? He's been in the sport less than 12 hours and already he's got a front row with his logo blazoned all over it.

0712: "The last few months have been so tough. To go from having no drive and no future in racing to get pole position here is amazing."
Jenson Button on BBC One

0709: "A new set of regulations, a new set of specifications and the team who has managed the changes and dealt with them best has come out on top - Brawn GP."
David Coulthard on BBC One
Australian Grand Prix qualifying results

0706: "This isn't just a great story for F1 - this is a great story in any sport. Honda were dead in the water and out of the sport and they've come back and grab the front row in the season opener. This is a comeback greater than Lazarus!"
Eddie Jordan on BBC One

0704: "Get in there!" screams Button to greet his pole position. Disappointment for Mark Webber, who follows a fine Q2 to only finish 10th, while the Ferraris might have hoped to have gridded higher than seventh and ninth.

0702: Oh, what a lap! Britain's Jenson Button snatches pole position with a stunning circuit and a time of 1:26.202 - that's his first pole in three years. A Brawn GP front row is followed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and BMW's Robert Kubica, who puts an excellent effort in from almost nowhere to go second row.

0700: Rubens Barrichello posts a lap hotter than an F1 driver's pants of 1:26.505 to sit on pole with half a minute left...

0658: "The cars are so close, it's going to be an incredible race tomorrow. That's if the Brawn's don't just drive away from the field."
Ben, London

0657: With less than four minutes remaining in Q3, Brawn GP continue to dominate. Felipe Massa reports to the pits that he has a puncture - they tell him that he hasn't. Something not quite right with the Brazilian's Ferrari, though, it would seem.

0655: "We knew it was going to difficult to get into Q2 and we thought if we got a real flyer of a lap and everything went perfect we might just sneak into Q3 but that didn't happen. We are lacking a bit of grip."
Heikki Kovalainen on BBC Radio 5 Live

0653: Jensen Button posts the early marker with a lap of 1:26.600 - that's the fastest time of Q3 by a long shot so far.

0651: Further to my previous note - we think Brawn GP even have three sets of soft tyres left. Blimey.

0650: Of course, with Q2 the truest guide to the cars' race pace as they are not running on race fuel, it's interesting - and telling - to see the Brawn GPs so far ahead of the rest of the pack. Rubens Barrichello is nearly four tenths faster than Vettel in third, with less than two tenths of a second separating three to nine on the grid.

0646: "One positive for McLaren, though, is that with such a close grid it perhaps won't be impossible for them to turn this around in the coming races."
David Coulthard on BBC One

0645: "If McLaren have to change that gearbox, of course, it's a further five places back on the grid and that would be absolutely disastrous for them. This really is a case of damage limitation now."
Eddie Jordan on BBC One

0643: Nick Heidfeld, Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima, Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton go out after Q2.

0642: Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button are trading blows at Albert Park and those two top the charts ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso, though, is bang in trouble in 12th...

0639: Heikki Kovalainen looks down and out as he can only manage the 14th fastest time on the track with two minutes of Q2 remaining. His McLaren's soft tyres look spent - they generally only have one good lap in them.

0636: "The surprise for me of this qualifying session is undoubtedly Red Bull. They have shown no threat of finishing up there in qualifying all weekend but Webber and Vettel are pulling out the stops when it counts."
Martin Brundle on BBC One

0635: "There was no more drive in the gearbox, there is an issue there, I don't know what it is, but we are working on fixing it - we will have to fix it or we won't be racing tomorrow. We will have some fun starting back there in 15th tomorrow. I just want to say a big happy Birthday to my brother Nicolas as well - Have a good one."
More from Lewis Hamilton, on BBC Radio 5 Live

0634: Jenson Button is the fastest man on the track at the moment, with Mark Webber making the most of the soft tyres to keep himself well and truly in the mix - he's second. Timo Glock and Rubens Barrichello, as expected, are up there as well.

0632: "We actually got through Q1 which was pleasing, but there's something wrong with the rear drive train, I think, so that's me out."
A visibly frustrated Lewis Hamilton on BBC One

0631: Lewis Hamilton is out of qualifying.

0631: "Interesting that Raikkonen feels the need to get out there. All the teams - and in particular the so-called big teams - know it's all about that one sweet lap."
Martin Brundle on BBC One

0628: Kimi Raikkonen is first out of the pits as Q2 gets under way.

0626: "If Ross Brawn was ever keen to get new investors on board, then he has done himself massive favours in one fell swoop - one-two in Q1 and the Brawn GPs are looking very good."
Eddie Jordan on BBC One

0625: "An incredibly exciting session, the track is evolving and it's intriguing to see some of the established teams using the option, soft tyres in Q1. It looks like they are using qualifying as an extended test session."
David Coulthard on BBC One

0621: So Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet Jr, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Bourdais go out. Brawn GP go one-two, with Barrichello fastest, while Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli leave it late to save themselves. Lewis Hamilton makes Q2 by the skin of his teeth - 15th fastest.

0619: Where did that come from? Mark Webber rips a doozy of a lap up and posts the fastest time yet by almost half a second - the Australian posting 1:25.427.

0618: "You would think the teams that are using soft tyres now are the ones who know they are going to struggle to get into qualifying two and the ones who think that have got next to no chance of reaching qualifying three."
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live

0617: Bosh. Felipe Massa goes second fastest and two Brazilians top the charts. As it stands, Jarno Trulli has plenty of work to do.

0615: Robert Kubica goes fifth fastest with a time of 1:26.386, while elsewhere Felipe Massa starts what could be a crucial flying lap from him - his Ferrari is the slowest out there at the moment.

0614: "Everybody expected these cars to get spread out with all these change to the cars and the rules, but it's done the opposite - they are so close, it's too tight to call who will finish where."
Martin Brundle on BBC One

0613: Well well well, maybe you can't write him off. Lewis Hamilton posts the fastest middle sector of the day on his way to the second fastest time so far. That is until Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg usurp him, with Rubens Barrichello now fastest with a fine time of 1:25.815. If Q1 were to stop now, Felipe Massa would be out - he's 17th.

0610: "I've just rushed back from the paddock to take my seat back at the media hub but can you believe that just eight minutes before qualifying Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button were still shaking hands, meeting and greeting at Brawn GP HQ? Cool as cucumbers those boys."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt, trackside at Albert Park

0609: Kimi Raikkonen storms round in 1:26.615 and the Ferrari is fastest - isn't that just typical of the mercurial Finn?! Conversely, Lewis Hamilton goes out on the soft tyres for the first time and the phrase coming out of the McLaren camp is "damage limitation". Ouch.

0606: "I've heard rumours that Jenson Button's lead engineer at Brawn GP has been seen flicking though the Q3 rulebook because they have not been involved in the third and final round for a while!"
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live

0605: Giancarlo Fisichella is the first round the track and he posts 1:28.840 - but Nico Rosberg follows him in a time of 1:27.833. Not a great time, that, and it would appear grip on the track might take a while to get going.

0602: Sebastien Buemi and Giancarlo are the first cars out on the track, but it looks like Nico Rosberg will one of those looking to post an early flying lap effort.

0600: Right, Q1 gets started. Hold on to your hats ladies and gents.

0556: I guess it's about that time for me to give you my prediction then huh? Just don't put your house on it, please, ordinarily I struggle to predict day follows night.
Pole: Trulli
Second: Barrichello
Third: Massa
Fourth: Button
Fifth: Glock
Sixth: Rosberg
Seventh: Vettel
Eighth: Sutil.

0550: Just 10 minutes until the first qualifying of the season, folks. The last three winners of the Australian Grand Prix have gone on to win the Championship, by the way... hhmm.
Explore Albert Park

0545: "I think McLaren really had to fight to the bitter end last season and I just think maybe they took their foot off the pedal a wee bit after that and that allowed the other teams the chance to overtake them in terms of development. But McLaren have been too successful for too long to stay down there for long and they'll bounce back, I'm sure."
Eddie Jordan on BBC One

0541: Good to see a British sponsor (Virgin) getting behind Honda and Brawn GP to give it the boost it may need to take it all the way to the top."
Caleb in Aberystwyth
Virgin to sponsor Brawn F1 team

0537: Nice little insight into Mark Webber's condition at Albert Park, with the news that the Australian is still "limping very badly" around the paddock in Melbourne following the accident that broke his leg just four months ago. He's proving more than handy in the car, though - although David Coulthard, official first reserve for Red Bull this season, tells BBC One that if Webber had broken his left leg, he'd have had no chance of competing because of the force needed on the brake in an F1 car. Small mercies, I guess?
Mark Webber column

0531: With final preparations taking place in the pits, the hub of activity at Albert Park is generally behind closed doors, so it's time to hear from our intrepid reporter on the scene, Sarah.

"I fear this might be stating the obvious but opinion in the paddock seems to be that the first pole position of the season really is up for grabs. There are four teams who appear to be right in the mix. Three of them are the teams who are running with the "split-level" diffuser; Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP. The feeling is that the unusual design - which was given the green light by the sport's governing body - could give those teams an extra half a second in pace. The fourth team is Ferrari, who as you would expect have produced a solid, all-round car. Felipe Massa has been keeping his powder dry but was fourth in final practice and he's getting a lot of backing for pole. His wife is looking pretty relaxed too."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt, trackside at Albert Park

0526: "With any new regulations, you look at them and see how they shape the car. We had 15 months to look at the rules and we saw plenty of potential. Other teams have seen it differently but we're very happy that we're totally legal - as shown by the appeal being thrown out over the rear diffuser."
Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn on BBC One

0523: "Re 0510: Yes, but remember what engines are in the Williams!"
JM Chester

I don't believe it, I've totally been caught out on a technicality. I blame the late/early hour! Muchos apologias to Darryl, I would stick to my pledge but I'm more skint than two dormice fighting over a crumb of cheese.

0518: "Jenson always had absolute belief that Honda would return in one form or another and that belief has obviously been borne out. It's cracking news for him, and he totally deserves it too."
David Coulthard on BBC One

0514: "Why is everyone underestimating Hamilton? He's pure talent and a champion. Expect something magic in qualifying from him."
Ian, Woking

0510: "What price an all Toyota podium come Sunday..?"
Darryl in Ewell

I tell you what mate, as they only have two drivers, as Les Dennis would say, "I'd give you the money myself".

0508: Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan are in the pits and loving life on our BBC TV coverage. Want to know who's who, by the way? Who's working for you people...
BBC's Formula 1 team

0500: All together folks...! Dummm…da da dum da da dum de dum dummm...

0458: "The celebrity count has risen - marginally - in Melbourne. A quick sweep of the paddock ahead of qualifying found former Westlife singer Brian McFadden basking in the sunshine at Red Bull. McFadden is a successful solo artist in Australia and TV personality don't you know, but it took a while to clock him because he was sporting a full beard. No sign of commentary favourite Leo Sayer alas. I am assured he will be back for the big day tomorrow when Danni Minogue is rumoured to also be in attendance. I fear we will have to be grateful for this smattering of celebrity here because I'm not holding out much hope for Malaysia."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt, trackside at Albert Park

0455: Five minutes people, five minutes. And then Formula 1 will be back on BBC One. Rejoice in the street, sing at the top of your voices, hug the nearest stranger... these really are happy days.

0451: "It's very simple... Button for pole! :)"
Joe, London

0448: "I don't think we will really know the proper running performance order until we get through qualifying in Malaysia next week. Melbourne being a temporary track can play to unusual strengths in different cars. A car with a good mechanical front end might work well here but not perform too well in Malaysia where you have to keep your rear tyres in."
David Coulthard, former driver and BBC Sport analyst

0441: "I've just noticed that nine of the top 10 in the second practice yesterday were nine of the bottom 10 from last year's championship and nine of the bottom 10 was the opposite. Have you ever seen something so strange in a sport?"
John, Sheffield

That's actually not strictly true, mate, but I see what you're getting at. Almost a complete flip of the table from last year makes for a darn interesting start to the season, no? As for whether I've ever seen something so strange in sport... I once witnessed my mate 'Big Dave' thrown down six Tikka pies and three pints of cider during half-time of a Tottenham match once, does that count?

0434: "Everyone seems to be writing Rosberg off. I say he looks a safe bet for pole, and a decent points finish at least."
Nicholas, Norwich

0429: BBC Sport commentator Jonathan Legard has also had his say on this weekend's race and he's tipping Rubens Barrichello to bring home the bacon on Sunday morning. None of Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton make his top eight, though, and who would have agreed with that prediction six months ago?
Jonathan Legard's predictions

0427: "Yay, F1 is back! I sense a very different qualifying. Toyota and Brawn GP will dominate I think, while another driver, Adrian Sutil, went unnoticed in practise and he could be one of a couple of surprises."
Craig, Eastbourne

0424: "With track temperatures up at 37C in Melbourne, tyre performance could be key to how qualifying is settled. There are only two compounds available at Albert Park - super soft and medium. The problem with the super softs is that they degrade very quickly, meaning you only really get one lap out of them. The teams are likely to use those to set a hot lap and boost their grid position. But the mediums will be the preferred choice during the race, so the cars that are quick in qualifying may not necessarily have the race pace. The bottom line is that the bigger gap between the two available tyre compounds this season compared to last could have a significant impact on the races this season. "
Sarah Holt, BBC Sport trackside at Albert Park

0419: "My bet's on Trulli for pole. Rosberg is running light and Jarno has a consistent qualifying record."
Matt

0416: "I'm loath to make predictions for qualifying after everything we've seen so far in Australia but my guess for pole position would be Rubens Barrichello for Brawn GP. Jarno Trulli to line up alongside him on the front row for Toyota ahead of Jenson Button's Brawn and Nico Rosberg for Williams. There could be one or two surprises - with the McLarens lacking competitive pace we could see them struggling to get through the first session."
Ted Kravitz, BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter

0412: "Finally 2009 F1 is here!! My boyfriend hates the race each year and now I've got the red button i'm up even earlier! He's snoring away in bed - not a true F1 fan!"
Jane, Slough

0409: Oh, and just before we get to chatting about qualifying, here's a bit of chat from Sarah Holt on one of BBC Sport's newest recruits - EJ. "Former team boss and BBC expert Eddie Jordan, who has been playing all over Melbourne with his band The Robbers, has long believed in putting some rock into Formula 1. Well, now F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and Universal Music have announced the F1 Rocks series, which aims to bring together music and motorsport at live events. As if to prove the synergy between the two, former driver David Coulthard received a text message from Simply Red crooner Mick Hucknall wishing him all the best ahead of his first broadcast for the BBC."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt, trackside at Albert Park

0405: So what do you guys reckon that means for qualifying then? Are the Williams on lighter fuel loads or are they as competitive as Toyota and Brawn GP? Can Felipe Massa single-handedly keep Ferrari in the mix and just how bad are the McLarens if, as Anthony Davidson is correct, they are on a lighter fuel load? Let me know your thoughts.

0402: So that's final practice done and it continues to look dandy for Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP. Felipe Massa sits in there as well in his Ferrari, while a doff of the cap to BBC Sport columnist Mark Webber who laughs in the face of broken legs and has stormed to the seventh-fastest time of the session. Nice work, son.

0359: "Something tells me that it looks a little too good for Williams - a little too nippy and too edgy - I think they're on a lighter fuel load. It's still a good car, but not up there with Toyota and Brawn GP."
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0358: Nico Rosberg storms to the top of the timings with a lap of 1:25.808, with Kazuki Nakajima fifth-fastest at 1:26.234.

0355: This practice really is all about Toyota and Brawn GP, those two teams filling the top four times, as qualifying-specialist Jarno Trulli posts the fastest time of the day with a 1:25.811. I'm reliably informed that the Italian is "officially" the nicest man in Formula 1, which only leaves me to wonder what criteria that survery was based on. He apparently produces his own wine, so maybe by throwing that about in the hospitality suites that's it. It'd work on me.

0352: "Purely on his performance last season, Timo Glock deserves more podiums this time out. Looks like he finally has the car under him to do it."
Marcus

0350: Timo Glock - many people's tip to spring a surprise here by the way - storms to the top of the timings with a lap of 1:26.410 and only Massa is splitting a Toyota-Brawn GP dominance up there. Just 10 minutes of practice remaining now.

0347: Sebastian Vettel is cruising round the track as if he's rolling around Venice Beach with the soft-top down checking out the ladeez as he exclaims to his Red Bull team: "Something's broken in the brakes."

0344: Kimi Raikkonen may be out of practice thanks to his hydraulics problem, but his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa posts the fastest middle sector of the day so far on his way to the third quickest time of the session at 1:26.629. The drivers enjoying the increasing grip on the track out there, now. The Williams cars of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima - so impressive yesterday - are struggling to recreate that pace for whatever reason (fuel?), while Lewis Hamilton is already slipping down the time charts.

0341: "What a fascinating battle this will be. The Brawn GP could well be the best car on the grid and either Rubens Barrichello - who was so close to dropping out of the sport - or Jenson Button - who has been in relative obscurity for so long - could return to the top of the podium with an absolute bang. What a story."
David Croft on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0339: Rubens Barrichello storms to the top of the time charts with a 1:26.489 and he and Jenson Button are underlining just how strong the Brawn GP is out there. Richard Branson must feel like he's woken up on 25 December, checked under his tree, and found out his dad is Father Christmas.

0336: "It does look like the rear end is pretty unstable in those McLarens and I suspect both Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen - and possibly Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull too - have got minimal fuel in their cars as they look to get as high up the grid as possible in a bid to have a go from the middle of the pack rather than the back come race time."
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0333: Sebastian Vettel - what a talent he promises to be - is tearing strips off the others at the moment and he is the first driver to post near 1:27 with a time of 1:27.009. A reminder that yesterday Nico Rosberg posted the fastest time of the day with a 1:26.053, while the record lap here was posted in 2004 by Michael Schumacher and that was 1:24.125. That's faster than a whippet running for a bus to be fair.

0331: "Robbie Kubica best step up his game, he's my tip for the title in this open season. This season has the feel of 1996 when Schumacher went to Ferrari - it's so open."
Anon

0327: Rubens Barrichello goes quickest with a lap of 1:27.729, with the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg following up ahead of Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton is looking in better shape than yesterday as he is fifth fastest at the moment - did that late-night shift McLaren put in last night bear fruit?

0324: "However you look at it, that's ruined Raikkonen's chances in qualifying as he's not had the chance to go round the track in a low-fuel car. He's undoubtedly going to struggle to make Q3 if you ask me."
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0322: Oh dear Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn pulls up halfway round the Albert Park track as his Ferrari suffers hydraulic problems - ouch. Jenson Button makes the most of a free road to post the fastest time so far with a 1:27.863.

0319: The Renaults of Nelson Piquet Jr and Fernando Alonso are among a small group putting in their first flying laps and the Spaniard out-paces the former by a second and a half to post 1:28.758 - one would assume that's down to fuel loads, rather than the suspicion that Piquet Jr is about as handy in a car as Miss Daisy.

0316: "I've been having a chat with the teams in the pits and it turns out pretty much all of them were pulling all-nighters last night in a bid to get the best out of their cars today. Renault were here, for example, until 0530 this morning. McLaren were up only here until 0200 - but then they have been here until that time for the past three nights as well."
Holly Samos on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0312: The sun is blazing down in Melbourne and, although all the cars have come out for a single lap, the drivers are preferring at the moment to top up their tans on the grass verges rather than batter their tyres on the track - why not, I guess.

0308: "I was speaking to the people at McLaren on Friday and, though they were keeping their cards close to their chest, they were frank in admitting that they needed something only slightly short of a miracle to make Q3 later today. For such a huge team, that's incredible isn't it?"
David Croft on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra

0304: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Jarno Trulli are among the first cars on the track. Two of those - Hamilton and Kubica - have some serious work to do after two disappointing Friday practices. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button are keeping their powder dry at the moment.

0302: "Hello there from Melbourne. Many apologies for my delayed salutations but there have been stories to sniff out in the paddock - mainly the announcement that Brawn GP have a new partner in the shape of Richard Branson and his Virgin Group. Fresh from flying in from London, the coiffeured Sir Richard was in dazzling form as he met the media at the back of the Brawn garage. He says he is looking forward to working with the three Bs of Brawn, Barrichello... and Branson. I'm not sure how the fourth B - Jenson Button - feels about this. We can only presume it's Sir Richard's jet-lag. Apparently, even if you own your own planes there's no getting away from it..."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt, trackside at Albert Park

0300: Final practice gets under way.

0257: A shot from the pits of Jenson Button climbing into his Brawn GP... boasting brand new "Virgin" livery splashed across the car. It remains white, by the way, though Sir Richard Branson did refer to that status as "currently", so we may well see a red Brawn GP in future races.

0254: Alert! Alert! The live video stream is now embedded in this commentary people - press the refresh button to enjoy final practice in glorious technicolour. Modern technology huh?

0251: "Could we see the first Japanese champion this year? Kazuki Nakajima has pace and he doesn't have David Coulthard to crash into so anymore so it could happen!"
Craig, Bristol

0249: Ever wondered what it's like covering a Grand Prix? Well, for Jake Humphrey, it is all about lounging about on the grass in the sun, hanging out with Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, spongeing in the McLaren hospitality area and watching documentaries about Winston Churchill's bodyguard. I jest, of course, the man is seriously putting some hours in too... check out his blog. I order you (please).
Jetlagged in a Melbourne hotel room

0244: "I'm up with you till the end of qualifying! Got the whole weekend off work, hoping Lewis can come good today and find some pace."
Piotrish, London

0241: "Am I the only one feeling that Hamilton is just a little bit spoilt? First sign of trouble and he's already talking about leaving. Didn't see Button acting like this over the last couple of years. Come on Brawn GP -Phoenix from the flames!!"
Alistair, Sheffield

0237: ...it didn't, unfortunately. Hamilton came out for second practice with renewed vigour, only to realise that cutting a second and a half off his best lap of first practice was only actually good enough to slip two places down the pecking order. Nico Rosberg was again the man to beat as Williams, Brawn GP and Toyota all underlined the importance of a car's rear diffuser. I think we all learned something.

0233: Now then, I'm willing to bet there are some of you hoodlums who missed yesterday's two practices... am I right? I'll forgive you this once, but let's not let it happen again, OK? I'm not having this "I have other things going on in my life" excuse, rubbish. Here's a summary of first practice; the Williams duo Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima set the pace, with Brawn GP and Ferrari also impressing, while Heikki Kovalainen out-paced McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton by almost two seconds. I'd love to tell you things got better for Britain's reigning champion, but...

0229: Here's the full 'sp' on that Virgin-Brawn GP link-up I promised you. Brawn GP chief executive Nick Fry said: "Virgin is paying to sponsor the car and it might evolve into more," with Sir Richard Branson adding: "Virgin are trying to build the most respected brand in the world and an involvement with a great team will help that."
Virgin to sponsor Brawn F1 team

0226: "Whatever the ruling... isn't it nice to see a different top three? No real difference, just not Ferrari, McLaren etc. Just a thought."
Jason, Newquay

0222: "Barrichello is the man; the most experienced driver ever, a competitive car, and what could be his last try for the title! He'll go for it!"
Dave Manchester

0219: Nearly 20 minutes into the commentary and I haven't even mentioned the other big news of the day - it's the return of the BBC F1 credits baby! A few of my mates have been telling me they have waited 12 years to cast their ears to the sounds of "The Chain". I wondered why they didn't just go out and buy the Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits, but then maybe I need a bit more romance in my life.
Sneak preview of our new F1 TV title sequence

0215: "I'm going to be up 'til the race day ends with a good supply of Red Bull. Anyone want some?"
Haroon from Glasgow

0212: And the other breaking news to bring you good people is that Virgin has confirmed a "substantial sponsorship deal" with Brawn GP. We'll bring you the full story on that shortly. Not the quietest start to a day's commentary ever, I won't lie. Don't you just love it!

0209: First things first - the 'diffuser three' row continues to rumble on, with the FIA confirming that it will sit to hear the appeal against the decision to declare the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams cars legal on 14 April - meaning the results of this weekend's GP and the Malaysian GP will be subject to the outcome of that appeal hearing. I guess it's not the opening of an F1 season without some sort of controversy is it? It's like forming a Village People tribute band without the aid of false moustaches and easy access to your local fancy dress shop - it just aint done.
Date set for F1 diffuser appeal

0205: As always, I want you all to get involved in a massive way, so let me know your thoughts via text on 81111 . Any thoughts on yesterday's practice? Who's going to take pole later on today? Any tips on staying awake through the night to keep tabs on what promises to be a sensational Grand Prix? Let me make you famous...

0200: Morning folks. Well, morning if, like me, you're in the UK... more of a good afternoon if you're lucky enough to be in Melbourne awaiting third practice and qualifying today. I don't know about you but I have a feeling we'll have a bit of a tear-up today. Whatever we thought we knew about the old order has been well and truly re-written and over the next few hours we may just get confirmation that the likes of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams are the new big dogs in town. Or can Ferrari, Renault, BMW Sauber and, less likely, McLaren find their pace when they need it most? We shall see...


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see also
Button on pole for stunning Brawn
28 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Virgin to sponsor Brawn F1 team
28 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Date set for F1 diffuser appeal
28 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn rises from Honda ashes
27 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
F1 Mole blog
27 Mar 09 |  Formula 1


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