In Melbourne he led a ten-second sprint to the finish line following a late-race safety car intervention and in Sepang the washout that caused an early stoppage threatened to rain on his victory celebrations, but in Sakhir Jenson Button drove all the way to the chequered flag - and drove his heart out to ensure he got there first.

The 2009 Formula 1 World Championship leader was in pessimistic mood after qualifying just fourth in the desert kingdom, some margin from the front row of the grid and on barely more fuel than the pace-setting Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. The 29-year-old ceded further ground at the first corner when compatriot Lewis Hamilton vaulted past him in his KERS-equipped McLaren-Mercedes, but he regained a position by going boldly all the way around the outside of fellow second row starter Sebastian Vettel into turn one.

The turning-point in Button's race, though, lay just a lap later still, as at the same place he dived bravely down the inside of Hamilton and made the move stick, allowing him to set off in pursuit of the leading Toyotas. By dint of remaining out on-track significantly longer and posting some very quick lap times, he was able to leapfrog both during the first round of pit visits, and from there even extended his advantage throughout the middle stint as second-placed Trulli held the chasing pack at bay on his lesser-favoured 'prime' Bridgestone rubber.

Consistent lap times in the final stint when he switched over the medium-compound tyres were enough to maintain the Frome-born star's lead, and he went on to take the flag just over four seconds clear of Vettel for his third triumph from four starts this season. It was, by all accounts, a magnificent drive.

"It was a great race today," Button enthused. "I'm so happy to have seen the chequered flag without a safety car or red light in front of me! To achieve my third victory of the season is amazing, and we are going back to Europe with a strong lead in both championships. I couldn't wish for anything more.

"It has been a tough weekend for the team, which makes this win even more rewarding as we didn't have the pace that we had expected. I was really happy with my first lap. I knew that I had to overtake Sebastian quickly and got him round the outside on turn one.

"I had a couple of attempts at Lewis round the first lap and almost got him at the last corner. I knew that he would pull away from me on the straight so I dropped in behind and used the tow to overtake him at turn one. It wasn't easy from there, but getting up to third on the second lap was crucial for me. Our thanks to Mercedes-Benz this weekend who have not only provided us with a powerful engine but have integrated so well with our team. You need a close-knit unit to succeed in Formula 1, and that is what we have at this team."

The sister car of team-mate Rubens Barrichello was never quite on Button's pace during the grand prix, with an aggressive three-stop strategy failing to really pay off for the experienced Brazilian, with the 36-year-old finding himself caught up in myriad on-track battles, most notably with compatriot Nelsinho Piquet and Glock. The S?o Paulista secured fifth place in the final reckoning after getting the better of a late-race scrap with Glock and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

"We brought home some valuable points today," he reflected afterwards, "but it was a tough race for me. I lost a lot of time behind Piquet after my first stop, which was a real shame as it compromised my race plan. We went for a three-stop strategy and then took the decision to come in slightly early for my second stop as I was being held up behind Hamilton.

"It was so hot out there this afternoon, and the car was burning my waist on the right-hand side which made it very difficult for me. It seems that luck is on Jenson's side at the moment, and well done to him and to the team for winning the race today. I hope that my turn comes soon!"

With almost twice the points of its nearest rival Red Bull Racing in the constructors' standings - and with Button and Barrichello still atop the drivers' title chase - Brawn GP certainly has plenty of reason for optimism heading to Barcelona next for the beginning of the European campaign.

The Circuit de Catalunya was the scene of the BGP 001's maiden test back in early March - and where the ex-Honda F1 outfit's rivals really began to see that in his new venture, Ross Brawn meant very serious business indeed. Though those same competitors will have developments in the pipeline for the Spanish Grand Prix in a fortnight's time - most notably their own versions of the 'double-decker' split level diffuser - the Englishman is adamant that nobody at Brackley will be standing still either.

"A fantastic performance today from Jenson," he underlined, "and all credit is due to him for an outstanding opening lap which made today's victory possible. We have had a challenging weekend in dealing with the extreme temperature conditions, which was made more difficult by our lack of hot weather testing prior to the season. I am very proud of the way that the team here in Bahrain has worked together to overcome the issues that we faced and how they performed in the race today.

"Our particular thanks this weekend are due to our engine partner Mercedes-Benz, and we are delighted to have achieved our third victory of the season with them here today. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the team at the factory in Brackley who have been working very hard on our upgrade package.

"After a demanding but successful start of the season, we are all looking forward to returning home and the opportunity for the team to celebrate together before our focus turns to the start of the European season in Spain in two weeks."


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