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Brawn’s Jenson Button wins Australian Grand Prix

Britain’s Jenson Button on Sunday won the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, helping his new Brawn team to a dramatic 1-2 finish in its maiden race.

Button’s Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello finished in second place, with Italy’s Jarno Trulli third in a Toyota.

It marked the first time since 1977 that a team won a Grand Prix in its debut race.

Brawn only came into existence earlier this month in the wake of a management buyout of Honda, which quit Formula One late last year citing the global economic crisis.

For the 29-year-old Button, it was his second GP triumph in 154 races.

He came off the pole to lead throughout, avoiding the carnage on the track behind him, with the safety car called out twice during the 58-lap race.

Button surged to a big lead off the grid, but Barrichello was slowly away and fell back to seventh before collecting both Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld on the first turn.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen suffered damage and pulled out early in the race.

Button accelerated to a 34-second lead over Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by the 17th lap before he came in for his first pit stop to refuel and take on new tyres.

The safety car was called onto the track for the first time when Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima lost the front end of his Williams car and collided heavily with a wall, forcing him out on the 18th lap.

Button built his lead after the safety car and led Vettel by 5 secs after 33 laps ahead of BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica amd Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Button had built up over a 22sec lead over Vettel, enabling him to come in for his second pit stop on the 47th lap to refuel to give him enough to hold on to his big advantage.

Ferrari then lost Felipe Massa, whose car slowed dramatically and retired to the team garage 11 laps from the finish.

Vettel was heading for second place before he collided with Kubica, putting both cars out of the race with three laps left and clearing the way for Barrichello to finish in the second spot.

Trulli, who started from the pits, avoided the drama to finish third ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drove a clever race in his McLaren-Mercedes from 18th on the grid to take fourth.

Timo Glock was fifth, Fernando Alonso finished in sixth, Nico Rosberg was seventh and Sebastien Buemi finished eighth in his F1 debut.

The second race in the 2009 season is scheduled for Malaysia next weekend.

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