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Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Button on pole for stunning Brawn

Venue: Albert Park, Melbourne Dates: 27-29 March Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage and reaction from Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race across BBC TV, radio and online. Find complete listings here

Jenson Button

Highlights - Button takes pole in Australia

By Chris Whyatt

Jenson Button secured pole for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello as Brawn GP put in a stunning show on their debut.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica will make up the second row at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli were sixth and eighth but got put to the back as Toyota's cars broke technical rules.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa is now sixth but Lewis Hamilton starts in 18th after his McLaren suffered gearbox troubles.

Williams had launched a protest about the rear wings of Red Bull and Ferrari's cars, but later withdrew their complaint.

Former Honda team Brawn GP - whose survival was secured by owner Ross Brawn in early March after the British-based Japanese team pulled out of F1 because of the global financial crisis - backed up their impressive performances in testing and practice in some style.

This is the first time any team has been on pole position with the first car they have built since Scotland's Jackie Stewart for Tyrrell at the Canadian GP in 1970.

Brawn GP's Jenson Button

Button delighted with 'amazing' pole

"The last five or six months have been so tough for both of us, not knowing if we had a drive in F1," said England's Button, whose time of one minute 26.202 seconds secured pole.

"The pace seemed good on both sets of tyres early on but the others seemed closer to us than I thought. I think it was down to about two hundredths.

"I was struggling a bit with fuel as well, I just couldn't get the car to work, but when we got the fuel in it was great and I think that bodes well for the race."

And the performance of Brawn's cars proved even more impressive when the FIA released the pre-race weights, which give an indication of the fuel load each car is carrying.

Button (664.5 kg) and Barrichello (666.5) were carrying significantly more fuel than many of their rivals, with Vettel (657), Kubica (650), Nico Rosberg (657), Massa (654) and Kimi Raikkonen (655.5) all enjoying the advantage of a lighter load.

In the second qualifying session - considered the clearest guide to the true pace of the cars - Barrichello finished nearly four tenths ahead of the rest of field after clocking 1:24.783.

Compounding a scintillating team performance Button was less than one tenth of a second behind, while, lagging beyond, the next eight drivers were split by just two tenths of a second.

Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn

Brawn delighted just to be on grid

Yet world champion Hamilton may struggle to catch that leading pack after failing to appear for the second qualifying session following more problems with his McLaren, who have been struggling to put the downforce back into their car in pre-season testing.

The Englishman finished in 15th and was initially put to the back of the grid following the race as McLaren decided they will change the car's gearbox after its fourth-gear failure.

"There was no more drive in the gearbox, there is an issue there," Hamilton told BBC Sport after it happened.

Yet Hamilton received a slight reprieve and will start in 18th following the scrutineering process, where the two Toyota cars were excluded from the qualifying results after race officials found their cars to have rear wings "with an extreme degree of flexibility".

Flexible rear wings are banned because they can bring performance advantages.


Renault's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will start in 10th place, after a mistake on his final flying lap cost him vital time.

"We arrived here to fight for the podium, but this might not be the case tomorrow [Sunday]," Alonso said.

"We were very close to Q3 times, only two or three tenths of a second off, but I made a mistake as I tried to make up some time in the final corner.

"I'm disappointed as I thought I could be fifth or sixth on the grid."

Williams driver Rosberg, who clocked the quickest lap times in all three practice sessions, will start in fifth as the teams being protested against by Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault for the legality of their diffusers - Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams - all, prior to scrutineering, appeared to hit the heights.

But, after both struggling with their cars at various points in practice, Vettel and Kubica put in a much-improved performance when it mattered.

Constructor's champions Ferrari start from relatively disappointing grid positions with Massa - who missed out on the 2008 world title by one point - in the third row and team-mate Raikkonen starting in seventh position.

Red Bull's Mark Webber went well in the second qualifying session but will start in eighth, moving up from 10th, after making a mistake and running wide at Turn Nine on his last lap in the final session.

The Australian GP starts on Sunday at 0700 BST, with coverage on BBC1 from 0600 BST.

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see also
Toyotas excluded from qualifying
28 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Button hails 'amazing' Brawn pole
28 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Australian GP qualifying photos
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
Australian GP practice photos
27 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn rises from Honda ashes
27 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Clock ticking towards F1 opener
26 Mar 09 |  Formula 1

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