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phill_catterick Posted on 30/03/2009 21:37
Australia - "The Verdict"
Edited On: 30/03/2009 21:40
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Well, who would have predicted a Brawn Mercedes 1-2 at the Australian Grand Prix after a winter which has involved so much uncertainty and doubt over the buy out of Honda, and the loss of hundreds of jobs at the team base in Brackley?

Not me for one!

However, they pretty much dominated the weekend in Melbourne and thoroughly deserved their success-although Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica may receive a bottle of champagne each for the part they played in the final outcome.

Jenson Button never lost the lead-he looked calm, composed, smooth and above all, he looked like the driver we saw a few years ago win for Honda at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and I for one would love to see him back that up with a strong performance in Kuala Lumpur this coming Sunday.

And his team-mate put in an equally impressive performance in the other Brawn car, finishing second after an eventful evening at Albert Park. At the start, he got bogged down despite using anti-stall, and on the exit of turn 1 he clipped Heikki Kovalainen.

As a result, he dropped back a number of places and lost sight of his team-mate and the Red Bull of Vettel, the young German being the only man to keep the Brit honest through the majority of the race until Kubica’s late surge.

There were a number of incidents which had people talking, one being the collision between Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen. The Brazilian had a look down the inside into turn 3, and just as it looked like he had lifted off, the nose of the car stepped out and hit the Ferrari.

Both cars continued, but the front wing of the Brawn was damaged, and he had to pit.

The other major incident took place just three laps from the end. Robert Kubica’s pace had Vettel and Button worried, and he went to put a move on the young German, but they both refused to concede their ground and they ended up colliding.

Vettel lost his front wing and Kubica lost a wheel, therefore immediately removing both from the race. The stewards spoke to both after the race, and they decided to penalise the Red Bull driver with a ten place grid drop this Sunday

Kubica and BMW were particularly disappointed with the retirement as they believed the Pole had the pace to catch and then pass Jenson Button. Obviously we’ll never know that but he was certainly on a charge, and would have put the former Williams driver under pressure.

Therefore the collision pretty much sealed the win for Jenson, and he had to complete the race as the safety car pitted, and lead home Barrichello and Trulli-who was later disqualified for passing Hamilton under the safety car.

An appeal is being heard by the stewards from Toyota, but it seems that their driver broke the rules, and to overturn the decision would send out a wrong message to the rest of the field.

My Verdict:

A fantastic weekend has finally seen Jenson win his 2nd grand prix in his long and at times stressful career. It will definitely go down as one of the most historic in the sport’s history considering neither driver had a race seat a month ago, and all of a sudden they were on the top step celebrating an unlikely 1-2.

However, we have to give credit to Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and the rest of the Brawn team who made it possible. Throughout the summer they continued to develop the car to make sure it was driveable should the team continue in the sport, and they’ve turned into a potential title contender if they maintain the performance.

Personally, I feel Ferrari and Mclaren and perhaps even BMW will make their cars pacier, and challenge Brawn GP in the forthcoming races, but Button and Barrichello will certainly be in the running for more race wins depending on how long it takes the aforementioned teams to improve their cars.

As for the incidents during the race, it was inevitable that the stewards would at some stage begin an investigation into something. It seems you can’t get close to the car in front without the `big wigs` in their computer room thinking that some sort of rule has been broken.

Ten years ago, collisions happened all the time and back then no action was taken because people perceived it as `racing. `

Last year’s championship was marred by off track officials punishing drivers in situations which couldn’t be helped or simply for accidents which couldn’t possibly have been avoided. A prime example being the penalty imposed on Sebastien Bourdais in the
Japanese Grand Prix last year when he did everything possible to avoid the advancing Felipe Massa, but they touched and the stewards felt that it was something he could have avoided, so they gave him a 25 second penalty. A joke of a decision is somewhat an understatement!

And so was the decision over the weekend. Vettel now has to drop 10 places in Malaysia due to what can only be referred to as a `racing incident`. Both cars were fighting for position, both did their best to hold their line and they ended up running out of room.

Looking at the onboard camera, Vettel doesn’t exactly get across to his right hand side quickly, but then again Kubica doesn’t give him a lot of room and they touched. In that sort of situation, both drivers have equal responsibility to ensure they both stay on the road and one of them should have lifted off.

To put the blame all at Vettel’s door is very judgemental and in my opinion completely wrong. Kubica didn’t provide enough room and once they did touch there is nothing the Red Bull driver could have done.

I can understand why the German apologised because of his youth and inexperience with situations such as this one, but he had no need to and I hope he doesn’t change the way he drivers because he’s exciting to watch and definitely a threat to the front runners.

Thankfully, no action was taken against Rubens Barrichello for his tangle with Raikkonen, and nor should there have been. A complete accident, there is nothing the Brazilian could have done about it and no complaints were made by Ferrari.

I can’t remember the last time the stewards did get something right!?!?!?!?

The teams and their drivers move to Malaysia now for Round two, and with the momentum well and truly with Button, Rubens and Brawn GP-will they make it two out of two?

No doubt Ferrari and Mclaren will have something to say about it.

Phill Catterick - phillcatterick@hotmail.com

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