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Brawn duo admit to 'big surprise' at Red Bull pace

Not only did Brawn GP fail to secure pole position for the first time in 2009 in qualifying for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, but Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will line up respectively just fourth and fifth on the grid in Shanghai – after admitting to being somewhat 'shocked' by the pace of the Red Bulls and Renault ahead of them.

Having swept to pole position and victory in both Melbourne and Sepang, Button arrived in China comfortably atop the drivers' title standings and firmly intent on pulling off the early-season hat-trick to further cement his advantage. If he is still to do so, the British star knows he will now have his work cut out.

Though Button and Barrichello again led the way in Q1, the fact that they trailed Red Bull rivals Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the low-fuel Q2 session – the first time over the course of the weekend when everyone's true pace really becomes apparent – was perhaps a warning sign that this time they would not be having things quite all their own way.

Indeed, solid if understeer-afflicted final runs from both drivers in Q3 were trumped by Vettel, Webber and an inspired performance by former double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, consigning Barrichello to the second row of the starting grid and Button to the third, just under four hundredths of a second further in arrears. The latter fears the Milton Keynes-based squad's turn of speed is no flash in the pan.

“We struggled in Q2 compared to the Red Bulls,” the 29-year-old is quoted as having said by ITV-F1. “They seem to be very competitive .You'd say they were probably [faster] by three tenths; that's quite a lot of time, so I don't know how it's going to go tomorrow. We don't know what fuel loads they're on, but I'm guessing it's going to be pretty similar to us.

“Our car feels good around here, but there were a few cars quicker than we expected in qualifying. You could see in Q2 that the Red Bulls were very strong in the high-speed corners, and we knew then that we would have a fight on our hands. It's going to be interesting to see how the different strategies work out in the race. Of course we would rather be on the front row of the grid, but we will give it our best shot in the race tomorrow and see what happens.

“Our race pace, looking at it today and yesterday, seems to be a bit better than the Red Bull's, but we're behind and that's always very difficult. It's not a disappointment because we're still up there – we're still fourth and fifth – so it's not really a big issue, and for sure it's going to make the race very exciting. It's just going to be very tough tomorrow to come away with a victory, especially starting fifth on the grid.”

Those sentiments were shared by Barrichello, who nonetheless succeeded in out-qualifying his team-mate for the first time in 2009 – even if it was not for the top spot. What's more, the highly-experienced Brazilian – who triumphed in Shanghai's inaugural F1 outing for Ferrari back in 2004, in front of Button – suggested the fact that it was a non 'double-decker' diffuser car on pole should finally draw a line under all the 'bulls**t conversation' of late.

“I had a good qualifying session today, but you can see how F1 can progress so quickly,” remarked the São Paulista. “I attacked all the qualifying sessions really well, and whilst we were surprised to see that the Red Bulls were quite so fast, it makes for great competition at the front.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn BGP001, Chinese F1 Grand Prix, Shanghai, 17th-19th, April 2009
French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12 leads Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid

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Jonny - Unregistered

April 18, 2009 3:13 PM

The Red Bull laps aren't that impressive, they're running 5 laps less fuel than Jenson. 644 & 646kgs compared to 659kg Alonso (637kg) will pit on lap 9 for fuel. More of a publicity lap than a pole lap!

Pat - Unregistered

April 18, 2009 1:34 PM

Chillax .... it's all about race fuel loads and BrawnGP have plenty - giving them either a longer first run if dry (which I doubt or greater flexibility if wet which I expect - Fuel adjusted thety would have been on pole by at least a tenth if not more :)



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