Jenson Button kicked off his 2012 campaign in fine style by winning the Australian Grand Prix

Jenson Button kicked off his 2012 F1 campaign in fine style by winning the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today. Button capped a strong weekend for the McLaren team by controlling the first round of the season from start to finish, only yielding the lead during the pitstop shuffles.

The Somerset-born racer, who won the world championship in 2009, started from second on the grid with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton on pole position. Button made a stronger start than Hamilton and seized the initiative into the first corner. The two McLaren drivers were able to control the pace and looked on course for a one-two result for the majority of the race, but Hamilton was deposed by world champion Sebastian Vettel during an inopportune safety car period.

The caution period occurred straight after the two McLaren racers had pitted for the second time and enabled the Red Bull Racing driver to nip in for fresh Pirellis while the two Brits slowed behind the safety car. When the race resumed, Hamilton had to focus on fending off the second Red Bull of Mark Webber and Vettel was able to cruise to the runner-up slot, with Hamilton and Webber finishing third and fourth.

Ahead of them, Button gauged the restart perfectly to keep Vettel at bay. “I was a little bit on edge during the caution period, but I was able to keep heat in the tyres, save some fuel and push hard for two laps when the race restarted,” he said.

Fifth was Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari. The Spaniard had lined up 12th on the grid due to a spin in qualifying, but made a terrific start and raced solidly to offer the Maranello team some joy after a difficult pre-season development period. Team-mate Felipe Massa also made a fast getaway, but struggled with excessive tyre wear before eventually retiring with damaged suspension, but Alonso’s performance suggests that this year’s Ferrari isn’t quite as bad as many had feared.

After qualifying strongly, Pastor Maldonado looked on course for a fantastic sixth-place finish until he lost control and crashed heavily on the final lap of the race. It was a bitter disappointment for the Williams-Renault team, which was hoping for a strong result after an awful 2011 season.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg also dropped out of the points-paying positions in the closing stages, meaning Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez finished sixth and eighth. The Mexican turned in a stunning drive from the back of the grid, and stopped just once for fresh tyres as all the other leaders pitted twice.

Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the sport after two years away yielded points as the Finn charged through from a lowly 18th on the grid after spinning during qualifying to grab seventh position. His Lotus-Renault team-mate Romain Grosjean qualified a stellar third on the grid, but made a poor start and retired in the early stages following a clash with Maldonado.

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo made it two Australians in the points in ninth, with Scottish racer Paul di Resta grabbing tenth for Force India.

There was disappointment for seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who ran third in the early laps of the race but was forced out with gearbox issues.

Provisional race results

Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, March 18 20121 Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren-Mercedes2 Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull-Renault3 Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren-Mercedes4 Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull-Renault5 Fernando Alonso (ESP), Ferrari6 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), Sauber-Ferrari7 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Lotus-Renault8 Sergio Perez (MEX), Sauber-Ferrari9 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS), Toro Rosso-Ferrari10 Paul Di Resta (GBR), Force India-Mercedes

 

 

Join the debate

Comments
14

18 March 2012

Nice one Jenson!

18 March 2012

nice one sky as well . Was very impressed with their coverage and no ads at all during the race . Think buttons dad was bit shocked to be stopped for an interview mid race on way to loo !

18 March 2012

[quote Ianbr]nice one sky [/quote] I am not sure which network our Russian program picks up from - I think ESPN - but we have of course Russian commentator (boringly annoying) so the sound is down until I see there is conversation between driver and pit. Also I noticed we are running 3 laps behind "live" and only noticed because i was logged on the net to BBC coverage (which by the way was excellent - better than Eurosport) But at least I dont have to pay for the coverage :-) Same as the sad incident last night with Bolton which we had LIVE - hope he recovers tho I am concerned why?

18 March 2012

[quote Autocar]Jenson Button kicked off his 2012 F1 campaign in fine style by winning the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today. Button capped a strong weekend for the McLaren team by controlling the first round of the season from start to finish, only yielding the lead during the pitstop shuffles.

The Somerset-born racer, who won the world championship in 2009, started from second on the grid with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton on pole position. Button made a stronger start than Hamilton and seized t... Read the full article[/quote] But, how far can Hamilton throw his rattle this time?

Peter Cavellini.

19 March 2012

Judging by Hamilton's sulks and body language in the BBC post-race interview, the dummy should have reached McLaren HQ in Worthing by now.

19 March 2012

[quote Peter Cavellini]how far can Hamilton throw his rattle this time?
[/quote]

I thought that was all forgotten about in 2011? Seems not.. His podium sulk and subsequent team photo fake smile were embarrassing.

Button was immense in the race. He could always drive but he now has the ability to make an instant gap which he's never really mastered before, when the safety car came in I thought Vettel would have him but he gapped him instantly. Very impressed.

Feel sorry for Williams and Maldonado, though. They'd done all the hard work.


19 March 2012

Very good work by McLaren, although they must be getting sick of Hamilton's sulking by now. He qualified on pole, the race didn't go his way but he still ended up third and with plenty of indication that the car is going to be very hard to beat. All in all, it's not a bad way to start the season, is it? He looked completely outclassed by Button on Sunday, and I thought Jenson's demeanour all weekend was impressive. Lewis has his work cut out if he wants to beat Jenson anytime soon.

Looking forward to next week's race in Malaysia to see how some of the others will go. Mercedes are quick in a straight line and Sepang has to nice long straights. Schu looked very good, and outclassed Britney by a long way. Red Bull are obviously going to be quick but their lack of straight line speed is going to hurt if they are starting on the third row again. Lotus looks good, as do Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso. Will be interesting to see how long they can hang on to the front runners before the development race at the top leaves them behind.

Marussia did a great job in qualifying and finishing with both cars. HRT was no surprise, and although I agree with the stewards' decision to not let them start, it is disappointing that the 2012 testing rules meant they couldn't test their car before arriving in Melbourne. Yes, it's the same rules for everyone, but had the rules been the same as in previous years, both HRT and Marussia would have been able to shake down their cars in Barcelona and then concentrate on racing once they got to Melbourne.

And Alonso is well worth whatever Ferrari is paying him. That car does not look easy to drive at all.

19 March 2012

[quote Peter Cavellini]But, how far can Hamilton throw his rattle this time?[/quote]

I think Hamilton should begin to really consider his narrowing future options - staying at McLaren as ther Number Two driver or going to a mid-field team as "Number One" - provided he can raise enough sponsorship money to take with him. He won't want either of these choices but he will just (like every<one else) have to grow up and realize you can't always get what you want.

I said it a few years ago and still believe Hamilton's career is following the same downward path as Jacques Villeneuve's did after he won his world championship and then became paired with a team-mate who out-performed him. Ironically enough that driver was Jenson Button.

Great race by Button. Masterful.

...the band was playing Dixie: double-four time...

19 March 2012

[quote cimardinius]

[quote Peter Cavellini]But, how far can Hamilton throw his rattle this time?[/quote]

I think Hamilton should begin to really consider his narrowing future options - staying at McLaren as ther Number Two driver or going to a mid-field team as "Number One" - provided he can raise enough sponsorship money to take with him. He won't want either of these choices but he will just (like every<one else) have to grow up and realize you can't always get what you want.

I said it a few years ago and still believe Hamilton's career is following the same downward path as Jacques Villeneuve's did after he won his world championship and then became paired with a team-mate who out-performed him. Ironically enough that driver was Jenson Button.

Great race by Button. Masterful.

[/quote] Hamilton's last season with McLaren?........ooooh yes,but, who will have him?

Peter Cavellini.

19 March 2012

I think Lewis Hamilton may well have kicked himself for fluffing his start, but consoled himself that but for a fluffed start..."What? My team mate fluffed his start too?!?!? WAAAAHHHHH!!!!! I remain baffled."

Interseting race, full of "what might have beens", but I do wonder if the likes of Mercedes and Lotus Renault will be able to keep pushing up, fluffed qualifying and gearboxes aside.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run