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Brawn tastes dream 1-2 debut

JENSON Button led Brawn GP to an astonishing one-two at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix yesterday in Formula One's most successful team debut for 55 years.

The 29-year-old Briton, written off by some after two dismal seasons with Honda, cemented a fairy-tale comeback that left team owner Ross Brawn lost for words in Melbourne.

Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello started and finished second, but only after Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica drove each other off the track while fighting for the runner-up position with three laps to go.

The safety car came out and led the field until the final corner of the race.

McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton, starting last on the grid after a catastrophic gearbox failure in qualifying, showed his fighting spirit by clawing his way back to third place while the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen failed to finish.

"It wasn't my best race, but I still won," said Button, whose teammate got off to a terrible start after he hit the anti-stall button and fell to seventh.

No Formula One team had won on its debut since Wolf in 1977 while the last to secure the top two places first time out was Mercedes, Brawn's current engine supplier, in 1954.

Fifty-five years on, Button and Barrichello followed in the footsteps of the great Argentine champion Juan Manuel Fangio and Germany's Karl Kling.

Button led from pole to checkered flag, despite two safety car periods, to take his first victory since Hungary in 2006 and score more points in a single afternoon than he had in two years with Honda.

The victory marked a remarkable turnaround for a team which was fighting for its Formula One survival earlier this year after Honda pulled out.

With Barrichello well behind in fourth place, the one-two looked an impossible dream until Kubica tried to pass Vettel on the outside and Vettel drove into him.

Brawn was stunned. "You don't find Ross speechless very often," said Button. "But in the last 15 minutes I'd be surprised if he said a word. The big bear was just speechless."

Italian Jarno Trulli, who had started 19th and in the pit lane for Toyota, finished third but was demoted to 12th after stewards ruled he had overtaken Hamilton illegally.

"We scored way more points than we could have realistically expected," said Hamilton.

Germany's Timo Glock, who started behind Trulli in the pit lane after Toyota was disqualified from qualifying for using an illegal rear wing, was elevated to fourth ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso and Williams' Nico Rosberg.

Toro Rosso's Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi became the 58th driver to score on his debut with seventh place while French teammate Sebastien Bourdais took the final point.


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