Button Wins, FIA Annoys

aus-podium-2009The 2009 Australian GP is in the books and the F1 world stands amazed at the efforts of Brawn GP.  With Jenson taking the win and Rubens taking 2nd, the team has pulled out to an unexpected early lead in the constructors championship.  And while some may contend that Australia isn’t the best test of their true pace, Jenson’s car was pulling away from the field at all stages of the race.

Rubens had a bit more trouble though, “It was really tough for me at the start as the anti-stall kicked in which cost me a few places off the line and then I was hit heavily from behind going into the first corner and thought my race was over.”  Despite his poor start, Rubens was able to fight back through the field thanks to a rocket quick car and some well timed safety car periods.

Rounding out the podium was Jarno Trulli, which was later ammended by the FIA to be Lewis Hamilton.  After the race the stewards judged that Jarno had illegally passed Lewis during the safety car period and assessed a 25 second penalty after the race was over, which relegated the Italian to a 12th place finish.

And while the racing on the track was spectacular, the FIA proved once again inept at running a race.

The new safety car regulations had their first chance to shine this weekend and while the jury is still out on how well the new system will work, it is clear that the safety minded FIA stewards failed miserably.  On lap 18, Kaz Nakajima had heavy contact with the wall at the exit of turn 4 after losing the car on the kerb in the middle of the parking lot.  His car came to rest on the track along with debris from the car covering the racing line.  And yet, the SC wasn’t deployed until well over 2 minutes after the wreck.  Looks like those superlicense fees are going to good use.  Clearly this is untennable and I would not be surprised to hear the teams and the drivers complain about this in the coming week.

And while the stewards’ attention to detail on the track during the race was laughable, they rolled up their sleeves after the race to once again to display the FIA’s arbitrary hand of justice.  In the closing stages of the race, Sebastian Vettel was attempting to hold on to his 3rd place position against Robert Kubica who was clearly on the better tires, which was made apparent by massive amounts of movement in Vettel’s car.  Kubica attempted to pass around the outside of Vettel going into a turn and appeared to have the position, but didn’t leave Vettel enough room on the inside to make it through the corner safely, especially given the amount of movement already displayed in the car.  Contact between the two cars knocked them both out of the race and brought out the safety car yet again.  While most have already weighed in calling this a racing incident, the stewards felt Vettel was to blame and levied a 10 grid spot penalty for apparently attempting to hold on to his position.  Further the FIA levied a $50,000 fine as Vettel tried to continue under safety car with only three wheels.

The arbitrary hand of justice was not yet finished.  Jarno Trulli was judged to have overtaken Lewis Hamilton under the final safety car period and was moved from 3rd to 12th in the final classifications due to the 25 second penalty.  Since this happened under safety car, it would seem that all would be better served if the stewards would actually pay attention to the race and simply direct Jarno to yield his position instead of waiting until after the race to take away a phenomenal finish by the Toyota.

1. Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 58 1h34m15.784
2. Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 58 0.807
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 58 2.914
4. Timo Glock Toyota 58 4.435
5. Fernando Alonso Renault 58 4.879
6. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 58 5.722
7. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 58 6.044
8. Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 58 6.298
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 58 6.335
10. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 58 7.085
11. Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 58 7.374
12. Jarno Trulli Toyota 58 26.604
13. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 57 1 Lap
14. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 56 Damage
15. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 55 Accident
16. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 55 Differential
R Felipe Massa Ferrari 45 Damage
R Nelson Piquet Renault 24 Spin
R Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 17 Accident
R Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 0 Damage

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