The 2009 championship opener today lived up to its pre-season hype, with Jenson Button leading an eventful Brawn one-two at Albert Park. The Briton, after two awful seasons for the Brackley-based team's previous guise Honda, crossed the line less than a second ahead of his teammate Rubens Barrichello, after a one-corner sprint to the finish following the safety car.

The safety car was required after Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica, fighting hard for second place, tangled mere laps from the chequered flag.

"I'm so sorry," German Vettel whimpered into his Red Bull's radio.

"I think he could have left me some more room," BMW's Kubica, who had subsequently slammed hard into the turn 5 barriers after losing a wing under the car, told reporters behind the pitlane.

Their clash gifted the second step on the podium to Barrichello, who had a race of incidents, including nearly stalling at the start, triggering a first-corner crash, and later shedding some more front wing by tagging the rear of a Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli completed the podium despite starting from the pitlane following the 'flexi wing' disqualification of Saturday, ahead of a surprised world champion Lewis Hamilton. However, he was later penalized 25 seconds to finish in 12th position because he ran off the track during the late safety car period, and then illegally re-passed Hamilton. The young Brit has since been award third position, followed by Timo Glock on fourth and Fernando Alonso in fifth to round out the top five.

This season's only rookie, Sebastien Buemi, attracted some criticism this weekend for being promoted by Red Bull ahead of arguably more qualified GP2 drivers, but performed strongly to finish ahead of his teammate Sebastien Bourdais for a debut point.

Local driver Mark Webber was bitterly disappointed to finish a lap down and last. "It wasn't really embarrassing," said the Australian, who nursed a damaged car through 57 laps after early contact with Barrichello, "but a real shame as I wanted to do something for the fans here."

Ferrari kicked off its 2009 campaign with a disastrous nil points: Kimi Raikkonen spinning into a concrete wall and later retiring, while Felipe Massa also ended up in the garage with a failed F60.