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Rediff.com  » Sports » Button on pole as Brawn sweep front row

Button on pole as Brawn sweep front row

March 28, 2009 13:59 IST

Jenson Button seized pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday in a fairytale front row sweep for his new Brawn GP team.

Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello will line up alongside in Sunday's race in a remarkable turnaround for a team who were fighting for their Formula One survival earlier this year.

The pole was Button's first in Formula One since the 2006 Australian Grand Prix, when he was driving for now-departed Honda.

Mercedes-engined Brawn, who have emerged Phoenix-like from the ashes of Honda, will be the first to start their debut race on pole position since the March team in the 1970 South African Grand Prix.

It will also be the first time in 38 races the field will line up without either a Ferrari or a McLaren on the front row.

"The last five or six months for both of us have been so tough," said Button. "Going from not having a drive or any future in racing to putting it on pole here is just amazing, it really is.

"This is where we deserve to be I think after the tough times we've had."

Barrichello agreed, with a smile that lit up the post-qualifying news conference.

"Everyone who has touched this car needs a credit because it's a really great car," said Formula One's most experienced driver.

HAMILTON 15TH

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who believes he will struggle to score points in an underperforming car in his first race as Formula One's youngest champion, qualified 15th after being sidelined by a gearbox problem.

His Finnish team mate Heikki Kovalainen fared little better, lining up 14th on a grid turned upside down by the sport's radical new regulations.

Ferrari's 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified only ninth while Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa, last year's overall runner-up, was seventh.

Button, a race winner for Honda in 2006, scored only three points in 18 races last year and his career looked heading for the scrapheap when Honda announced in December that they were pulling out due to the credit crunch.

Germany's Sebastian Vettel, preparing for his first race with Red Bull after moving up from sister team Toro Rosso, shared the second row with Poland's Robert Kubica for BMW-Sauber.

Germany's Nico Rosberg qualified fifth for Williams with compatriot Timo Glock sixth for Toyota.

The run-up to the race was soured by a controversy over the legality of rear diffusers used by Brawn, Williams and Toyota and their cars filled four of the top six places.

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