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Martin Brundle column

Jenson Button celebrates winning the Australian Grand Prix

Watch highlights of Jenson Button's brilliant Australian GP victory

Martin Brundle
By Martin Brundle
BBC Formula 1 broadcaster

Jenson Button's victory in the opening Grand Prix of the 2009 season in Australia was close to perfection.

One locked brake on cold tyres behind the safety car and arriving into his pit stop in the wrong gear is all he could have improved on, which sums it up.

He was under pressure for the whole 58 laps of the race at Albert Park and was never able to relax.

It might have looked like an easy win for Button in his shiny new Brawn Grand Prix car but it certainly was not a cruise.

Jenson can come across as a bit of a jack the lad but he's an intense and determined driver who hides his emotions well

Martin Brundle

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was pushing him hard before he collided with Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber in the closing stages. It was the fast-closing Kubica who was the real threat in the latter part of the race.

Button also had to deal with the late afternoon low sun bouncing off the track and two safety car restarts.

The Englishman showed how mentally strong he is and that he can deal with pressure and expectation on his shoulders.

Button is a regular guy and I suspect he carries some frustrations and self-doubt. He has taken quite a pounding during his Formula 1 career.

Yes, he can come across as quite confident and a bit of a jack the lad but underneath all that he is an intense and determined driver who hides his emotions well.

His team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who finished second to complete the one-two for Brawn, summed it up for both of them when he said: "You have to be ready for the circle of life so that when you are on top of the circle and things are going your way, you can make the most of it."

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello wave to the crowd after their one-two victory in Australia
The Brawn car was impressively quick throughout the Melbourne weekend

Button and Barrichello have been hanging around struggling to survive, driving for two years with a difficult Honda car before the team morphed into Brawn.

The worrying thing about Button and the super-fast Brawn's victory is the question it raises about the importance of driver ability versus car performance.

Observers might be thinking: "Hang on, if world champion Lewis Hamilton was struggling for pace and Button came from nowhere to take pole and win the race isn't it just about the car?"

The whole field of drivers are no more than half a second per lap apart but the best drivers almost always end up in the best cars. However, clearly they can't defy the laws of physics - if their car lacks power or grip then they cannot make up the difference.

The car is a pivotal factor, especially this year with such wide-ranging regulation changes.

The Brawn is definitely a strong car - Barrichello did his best to shovel others off the track in Melbourne but extraordinarily the front wing and front suspension absorbed it all.

The worst thing that could have happened in Australia was for the Brawn to clear off into the distance and wipe the floor with the rest of the field

The Brawns also found a way to make the tricky 'super-soft' tyres work.

They give better grip than the 'medium' tyres for the initial couple of laps but then go off quickly.

That is why Button, like most of the drivers, had saved the super-softs for a short stint at the end of the race when the deficit would be limited because more rubber had been laid down.

Kubica and BMW, among others, tried the different tactic of getting the super-softs out of the way early to try to make up ground in the first couple of laps and then ensure they would be quick at the end of the race on the mediums.

That's why Kubica was so much of a threat in the closing laps.

Team boss Ross Brawn and Jenson Button celebrate on the podium after winning the Australian Grand Prix
Will Brawn and Button be getting used to this taste this year?

Nevertheless, while the likes of Nico Rosberg's Williams disappeared backwards when he was on the super-soft tyres, Button was still pumping the lap times in.

Brawn have some nice aerodynamic tweaks and tricks underneath the car as well as their controversial double diffuser.

That diffuser, along with a similar design incorporated by Toyota and Williams, was the subject of a protest by Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull during the Grand Prix event.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, gave the design the green light but we will find out once and for all it is legal at an appeal hearing on 14 April.

The worst thing that could have happened in Australia was for the Brawn to clear off into the distance and wipe the floor with the rest of the field.

Then, fingers would have been pointed again at the diffuser and the appeal hearing could well have been swung by an inclination to slow down the Brawns.

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Having said all that, Button is very smooth behind the wheel and has a very elegant driving style, almost as if he is turning the steering wheel through treacle.

He is precise and calm and doesn't let the car move around. That style can hurt him when more aggressive driving is called for but his fluidity really paid dividends in Australia.

Where can Button and Brawn go from here? You will have to watch next Sunday's race in Malaysia on BBC1 to find out.

Martin Brundle was talking to Sarah Holt.



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see also
Next race to be tough - Hamilton
30 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn GP reveal heavy job losses
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
More to come from Brawn - Button
30 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Button says F1 win 'was not easy'
30 Mar 09 |  Technology
Hamilton 'very happy' with result
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel gets 10-place grid penalty
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Red Bull considering new diffuser
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Branson hints at Brawn GP buy-in
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Button seals dream Australia win
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Brundle on Hamilton
04 Mar 09 |  Formula 1


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