McLaren’s Jenson Button won the season—opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, beating Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull into second place.
World champion Vettel prevented the McLaren team from starting the season with a one—two as he finished between Button and the Briton’s team—mate Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole.
Button, who finished the 58 laps of 5.303 km for a race distance of 307.574km in 1 hour 34:09.565 seconds said afterwards in the press conference that all the work the team put in was well worth it.
“Every win means a lot to you, but this showed how really important winter is. The team has done an amazing job over winter and it is nice getting a win.” He won the start from his team—mate and took over first place from Hamilton by the first corner and then proceeded to put some distance between him and the chasing pack.
By the 10th lap this distance was up to three seconds.
Behind the two McLarens, Michael Schumacher was holding on to third place but was under pressure from Vettel, who had moved up from sixth at the start.
The seven—time world champion Schumacher then developed a gear problem which led him to run wide and soon afterwards had to withdraw.
Another early casualty was Romain Grosjean in a Lotus, who sensationally started from third, but was involved in a collision early on and pulled out of the race.
After the first pit stops Button managed to easily stay in front and then benefited as Hamilton and Vettel were held up by the Sauber of Sergio Perez, who started from last place after incurring a five—place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
The Mexican was one of the last to go into the pits and as a result temporarily found himself in second place.
Once Hamilton and Vettel passed him, they attempted to close the gap on Button, but failed to do so.
With 20 laps remaining, the safety car had to come out as Vitaly Petrov pulled out of the race and his Caterham had to be removed from the track.
This allowed Vettel to make a quick pit stop to change his tyres for the final time and, more importantly, allowed him back on to the track ahead of Hamilton.
Button admitted that he was slightly worried when the safety car came out. “I had a comfortable cushion when it came out and I was a little bit on edge thereafter.
“But I got a good restart and was controlling my pace until the end.” Vettel said he thought he would have managed to overtake Hamilton without the safety car. “Even though it would have been close, I think I would have had a good shot at catching him.” Hamilton looked very dejected during the victory ceremony and said he was disappointed with the result. “It was a bit of a tough day, but I have to keep my head up.” After the safety car pulled in, the three leading cars drove until the end without any change.
There was, however, some drama towards the end as Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, who was lying sixth, crashed into the wall on the final lap.
Another last—minute casualty was the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who was overtaken by several drivers on the final lap after trying to overtake Perez and as a result slipped out of the points positions.
At the end, fourth place went to Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who is still waiting for his first podium place in his home race.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took fifth, while Kamui Kobayashi in a Sauber took sixth place. Returnee Kimi Raikkonen, who has returned to the sport from retirement, took his Lotus into seventh place, with Perez a good eighth.
The final two points positions went to Daniel Ricciardo in a Torro Rosso and Force India’s Paul Di Resta.
The next race is the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 25.
Keywords: Australian GP