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Formula One: Brawn GP sweeps front row in Australia

Rafay Ansar

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The fairy tale came true for the new Brawn GP team in Australia as Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello filled the front row for the first race of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, defending world champion Lewis Hamilton will start last, in 20th place, after a terrible day for the McLaren team.

Nobody could match the pace of the Brawn GP cars in qualifying. Button beat his teammate to pole by more than 0.3 second as the two cars completed their final laps. It was the English driver’s fourth career pole.

The fight for third on the grid was much closer, with just 0.2 second covering the five drivers behind Barrichello. The expected domination by the teams equipped with the double diffuser did not quite materialise.

Quickest of those five was Sebastien Vettel, the young German having a great first outing for his new Red Bull team. Robert Kubica took fourth for BMW, while Nico Rosberg was disappointed with fifth after being higher up during most of the practice sessions.

Timo Glock underlined Toyota’s pace with sixth, while Felipe Massa did a good job to secure seventh after a difficult start to the weekend for Ferrari. He was also the fastest kinetic-energy recovery system-equipped car, as the new technology is only being used this weekend by Ferrari, Renault, McLaren and Nick Heidfeld’s BMW.

The top 10 was completed by Jarno Trulli, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber. Heidfeld was 11th after just missing the cut for the third qualifying session. Fernando Alonso was 12th for Renault, after going off on his quick lap, and he lines up ahead of Kazuki Nakajima and Heikki Kovalainen.

The McLaren was just not quick enough. But to make matters worse, Hamilton suffered a gearbox failure after just scraping through to the second qualifying session in 15th, and was not able to take part in that session. A penalty for a change of gearbox drops him five places to 20th.

The 15th starting position thus goes to Toro Rosso rookie Sebastien Buemi, who is followed by Nelson Piquet, Giancarlo Fisichella and Sebastien Bourdais.
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