Perfect Button Wins Australian GP

Once he had assumed the lead after the first turn, Jenson Button must have been thinking it would be yet another victorious Sunday in Australia. The McLaren man had a trouble-free afternoon, crossing the finish line to collect the maximum race haul of 25 driver’s championship points and his third win in Melbourne in his previous four attempts.

“It was very special,” said Button. “Starting the year with a win is important. To come away with Lewis’s pole yesterday and victory today, I think it puts us in a great position for the next few races and on the right foot, so a big thank you to everyone in the team.”

Jenson was too cool for the Safety Car to hassle his day

The Safety Car was deployed on lap 47 following Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham stopping alongside the main straight, causing the Englishman’s lead to shrink from ten seconds to nothing. He is no stranger to restarts under the Safety Car and even though it startled him a little, he had it under control with no problems:

“The biggest worry was the safety car,” he said. “When you have a 10-second gap, it is a great place to be, but as soon as the safety car comes out and it is 6pm, it’s difficult to keep the temperature in those tyres. That was a big worry for me.

“I was able to keep the heat in the tyres and saved a lot of fuel, which was important for us, and then got a good restart. I was able to do that, which I was very happy about, and was then controlling pace to the end of the race so a pretty amazing day.”

The fuel aspect which he mentioned was to be a crucial nugget as it was said afterwards that both Button and Hamilton had needed to save fuel from lap 8 onwards of the 58-lap race:

“We were more than marginal,” revealed Whitmarsh. “Had we raced unfettered we would not have got to the finish line with either car, so from lap eight we were in severe fuel saving mode.

“I think unquestionably we could have gone a little bit quicker. We had a quick car here, and we should have got a 1-2, but we are not too displeased with where we are.”

Hamilton (L) was no trouble to the winner

McLaren stablemate Lewis Hamilton had his eyes on the prize after sticking his car on pole position on the grid. His car appeared less than satisfactory and he was no match for his compatriot Button. After the race, he was at a loss to explain what went wrong as his downbeat expression could not hide his disappointment:

“I really don’t know, I just struggled out there,” said Hamilton. “I got a shocking start which was really the beginning of it all.

“It was obviously a tough race, but congrats to Jenson it was great race for him. It would have been great to have had a one-two, but it just wasn’t a good day for me.”

Grosjean's race was ended prematurely

His qualifying lap in the final ten-minute shoot-out was hailed as fantastic, but Romain Grosjean’s race lasted less than two laps following a collision with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. Grosjean was positive despite the disappointing end to what was a promising weekend:

“The race was quite brief, but I think we have to take the positives from it. I was easily following the guy in front of me at the beginning. The car is good and feels as we need to have it. “I’m sure there’s more to come and the good thing is that the team atmosphere is great and we’re all working together. I’m sure we can achieve some great things this year.”

While never managing to get near to Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel managed to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton to finish in second. The German was pleased and said that the pace showed Red Bull do not look as bad as qualifying may have suggested:

“It was a positive race for us, one we knew would be a difficult one – so to come second with a lot of points is important. A lot of people did not expect it after yesterday. The car has a lot of potential. I would have loved to be in a better position yesterday. Now we need to address problems and make sure we give them a harder time next week.”

Rosberg fell down the order, finishing outside of the points

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn was disappointed that neither of his drivers had finished where they deserved after strong qualifying performances, but still was pleased overall with the team’s weekend:

“After a very encouraging weekend, today was not a good result for us,” said Brawn. “Despite excellent starts, both Michael and Nico had difficulties from the start of the race with their tyres. With the development of the circuit and the track temperatures, we fell out of the working window, and struggled with degradation.

“However, we remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on. So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve.”

Alonso put in a typically strong shift

Fernando Alonso was very impressive as he fought to bring his Ferrari up to fifth from twelfth position on the grid. He was happy to come away with ten points on a day where he expected less:

“There’s no doubt we are lacking pace to fight for victory right now,” Alonso told Spanish reporters after the race. “We can’t hide the fact that we were out of Q3 yesterday and today we were far from the best, so it’s a tough start to the championship. Today we salvaged a lot more points than we expected. We only lost three or five to the favourites and a few more to Button, but maybe there will not be a clear dominator like last year and maybe no one will open such a big gap.

There are maybe 12 cars in the same second this year, so gaining two or three tenths is much more important than in the past. So that’s what we have to do for Malaysia and China.”

Raikkonen felt he could have done better with a cleaner race

Kimi Raikkonen collected a seventh-placed finish but was sure he could have got more had it not been for an incident on the first lap:

It feels like I’ve never been away,” said Raikkonen. “Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through.

Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to seventh means we at least come away with some points.””

Maldonado suffered a cruel end to his Sunday

One of the strongest drivers of the day was just half a lap from recording what would have been his best career finish to date. Pastor Maldonado lost out on sixth place when trying to chase down Fernando Alonso, but says the accident was not a consequence of the attack:

“It was a very fast moment, but I just lost the back of the car and hit the wall – that’s it,” he said. “I had already accepted [finishing behind Alonso] because I tried to pass into Turn 3 and it didn’t work. I think Alonso was slowing down, his pace was not so strong, so maybe I got too close to him and that’s why I lost the back end.

“It wasn’t a concentration thing – I was concentrating and pushing as normal, looking after the tyres and the settings. I was enjoying the fight, but maybe I just got too close.”

Massa was calm following the incident

Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna collided on lap 47 and both suffered heavy damage during their tussle for 13th place. However, neither man would pin blame on the other, both agreeing it was a plain incident which can happen in racing:

“I did the corner in front, but Bruno had a good turn in because I was fighting with the other car, and he was able to take the line because there was a car on my side,” said Massa.” For me it was something that can happen in a race. From my side, there was nothing wrong because I was on the inside. From his side, it was the end of the race and he was trying to fight for the position, so you cannot say he did something completely wrong.”

Senna said similar:

Ricciardo had the bad luck that I’d had previously, because when I tried to overtake Felipe on the outside into Turn 13, he pushed me wide, and then Danny passed me,” he said. “Then Danny tried to do the same to Felipe on Turn 3, and both of them ran wide and I had a good run on them.

“I tried to overtake Felipe on the outside at Turn 4. That didn’t work unfortunately, but it was a racing incident.”

The second Australian on the grid scored a points finish in his maiden race

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo had a strong debut and finished in the points positions – but only after a “crazy” final few laps in which Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez clashed:

“It’s good to finish ninth, but I think I could have done better,” the Australian said. “I made a decent start but there were too many of us there. I hit the left front quite hard against a Williams and had to come in to change the nose. I had to race with a bit of damage after that. It was not easy to come back, but I never gave up, pushing all the time. I don’t really know how that happened on the last lap.

“I was a bit lucky to be the last one in that group because I could have a clear picture of the other cars going off in front. Then I had a chance to attack Jean-Eric. He defended into Turn 13 and I thought I could make the switch back and I did, which put me in P9. The last few laps were crazy and I was pushing like hell.

I’m extremely happy and it’s great to score my first F1 points here at home in Australia, where the crowd has been just fantastic all weekend long.”

Australian Grand Prix Result

Pos Driver Team Time
 1.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           1h34:09.565
 2.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +     2.139
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +     4.075
 4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +     4.547
 5.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    21.565
 6.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +    36.766
 7.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +    38.014
 8.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +    39.458
 9.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    39.556
10.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +    39.737
11.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    39.848
12.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +    57.642
13.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +     1 lap
14.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +     1 lap
15.  Pic           Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
16.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +    4 laps

Not Classified

Driver Team Lap
Massa         Ferrari                      47
Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault             42
Petrov        Caterham-Renault             37
Schumacher    Mercedes                     11
Grosjean      Lotus-Renault                2
Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes         1
Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth                 DNS
De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth                 DNS
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