Dominant Button victorious in Australia

Jenson Button opened the 2012 world championship with the perfect result by recording his thirteenth career victory with a brilliant drive in the Australian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver made a great start from the front row to lead into Turn 1 and from then, drove a strong controlled race to take his third Albert Park win.

Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel finished in second for Red Bull, ahead of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

While Mark Webber recovered from a poor start (clashing with Nico Hulkenberg into the first corner) to take fourth for Red Bull with Fernando Alonso dragging his Ferrari from a lowly grid position to a respectable fifth.

Button claimed the lead at the start with a better getaway than his pole-sitting team-mate, and then quickly established a lead of three seconds, which stayed stable through the opening stint.

The two Mercedes occupied third and fourth initially, but Vettel overtook Nico Rosberg on the second lap with an amazing round-the-outside pass.

Michael Schumacher’s run in third lasted only until lap 10, when he retired with a gearbox problem.

That elevated Vettel into third, but the defending champion was 12 seconds down on the McLarens by then and could make little impression.

Third-place qualifier Romain Grosjean dropped to sixth off the line, and was another early retirement when he clashed with Pastor Maldonado on lap two. Maldonado would lose ground with a trip through the Turn 6 gravel three laps later, but rejoined in ninth.

The gap between the McLarens grew to ten seconds at the first stops when Hamilton emerged behind Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, who were running extremely long first stints.

That allowed a train of cars to develop for second, as Vettel gained and brought Alonso – who made a great start then jumped Rosberg in the first pitstops – with him, and Rosberg, Webber and the recovering Maldonado closed in too.

Webber had initially fallen back with a poor start and a first corner clash with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who had to retire.

The lead order remained unchanged until Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham brought out a safety car by stopping on the pits straight with a steering problem in the middle of the final pitstop sequence.

The McLarens had both just pitted, whereas Vettel had not, and the Red Bull was able to get in for its tyre change under the safety car and get back out between Button and Hamilton.

Vettel was still no threat to Button, though, as the 2009 world champion confidently pulled away from his successor at the restart and left the Red Bull to fend off Hamilton through the final stint.

Webber also benefited from pitting under the safety car to get in front of Alonso at the last pitstops.

The Ferrari could not keep up with the Red Bull thereafter, and as Webber chased Vettel and Hamilton home, Alonso had to focus on successfully defending fifth from Maldonado – who made the task easier when the Williams crashed heavily on the final lap.

Behind, a huge battle between the Saubers of one-stopper Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, Rosberg’s Mercedes – which fell back with tyre wear and early pitstops – and Raikkonen also ended in last-lap drama, as Kobayashi emerged with sixth ahead of Raikkonen and Perez, while Rosberg’s Mercedes jammed in second gear and tumbled down to P12.

The final-lap chaos ahead allowed Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo to pick up his first Formula One points at home with ninth place, despite having lost ground in a first-corner clash with Bruno Senna, which also sent Jean-Eric Vergne off track. Paul di Resta completed the top ten for Force India.

Felipe Massa briefly made it into the top ten, but struggled with poor pace and high tyre wear, making three pitstops and falling back to P13 before retiring with damage following a collision with Senna’s Williams.

So a great result for Jenson Button and McLaren. Not only does the MP4-27 look beautiful, the Mercedes-powered car is fast. Can Button keep this winning form in Malaysia? We will find out in the next seven days.

Australian Grand Prix, race results after 58 laps:

1.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           1h34:09.565
2.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +2.100
3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +4.000
4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +4.500
5.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +21.500
6.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +36.700
7.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +38.000
8.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +39.400
9.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +39.500
10.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +39.700
11.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +39.800
12.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +57.600
13.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +1 lap
14.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap
15.  Pic           Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps
16.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +4 laps

Fastest lap: Button, 1:29.187

Not classified/retirements:

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

World Championship standings, round 1:

1.  Button        25
2.  Vettel        18
3.  Hamilton      15
4.  Webber        12
5.  Alonso        10
6.  Kobayashi      8
7.  Raikkonen      6
8.  Perez          4
9.  Ricciardo      2
10.  Di Resta       1

1.  McLaren-Mercedes           40
2.  Red Bull-Renault           30
3.  Sauber-Ferrari             12
4.  Ferrari                    10
5.  Lotus-Renault               6
6.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          2
7.  Force India-Mercedes        1

Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang. March 23-25.

15 thoughts to “Dominant Button victorious in Australia”

  1. Australian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button was ecstatic about McLaren’s perfect start to 2012. has the story.

    Jenson Button was elated after celebrating what he labelled as a very special start to the season following a commanding win in the Australian Grand Prix.

    The Briton overtook McLaren team-mate and polesitter Lewis Hamilton at the start and never looked back, leading at the chequered flag ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel.

    It was Button’s third win in Australia following victories in 2009 and ’10.

    The McLaren driver was delighted to start the season in perfect fashion.

    “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.

    “I am very excited heading to Malaysia but not thinking about that now – I will enjoy this now with friends and family, and tomorrow turn my attention to Malaysia.”

    Button was leading comfortably until the safety car was deployed with 11 laps to go, and he admitted it was not an ideal situation, although it allowed him to save fuel, which he suggested was crucial for him.

    “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.”

    Button, who scored his 13th grand prix win today, said his third victory in Australia was probably the most straightforward.

    “It’s very different to 2010. Compared to 2009, I was on pole [that year]. It was good but the last stint I was struggling as the tyres were working very differently, but this time through the stints the car felt good and there was good balance between the pace at the start of the stint and the pace at the end of stints. It is probably better than any year I have raced in.”

  2. By taking second position, world champion Sebastian Vettel commented that this result proves Red Bull is in a better shape than qualifying had suggested. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel said his second place in the Australian Grand Prix proved that Red Bull is in much better shape than its surprise row three qualifying spots in Melbourne suggested.

    After dominating the 2011 season, Red Bull found itself back in fifth and sixth on the Melbourne grid with Mark Webber and Vettel.

    But Vettel was able to move forward in the race, getting up to third when Michael Schumacher retired his Mercedes, and then vaulting Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren for second at the final pitstops. Webber finished fourth despite a poor start and early collision with Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India.

    Although Vettel did not have the pace to attack winner Jenson Button’s McLaren once up to second, he was pleased with how Red Bull had turned its weekend around.

    “Congratulations to McLaren and Jenson – he drove a fantastic race, he was unbeatable today but I am happy to come away with second,” said Vettel.

    “A lot of people did not expect it after yesterday.”

    Vettel is certain that the Red Bull RB8 has a lot of untapped speed that it just did not show in Melbourne, so was pleased to get a big score on what he thinks will be one of the toughest weekends for his team.

    “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,” he said.

    “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.”

  3. Despite taking pole position, Lewis Hamilton finished the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in third place. The McLaren driver was left baffled by a lack of pace. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton said he was baffled by his struggles during the Australian Grand Prix after finishing in third position.

    The Briton, visibly unhappy with the result after the race, started from pole position but was unable to stay in first place at the start, with team-mate Jenson Button passing him and leading all the way to the end.

    Hamilton was around 10 seconds behind Button when the safety car was deployed 11 laps from the end, and he was then passed by Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.

    Hamilton conceded he could not understand where his lack of pace was coming from.

    “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.”

    The Briton described his result as pretty poor, but has vowed to re-group and fight back next weekend in Malaysia.

    “It’s okay. It’s a pretty poor standard compared to some others.”

    “[I will] just re-focus, get my head down and there’s lots of races ahead. In these championships it’s all about consistency so that is what I am going to focus on.”

  4. Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn blamed tyre degradation for the disappointing end to the squad’s Australian Grand Prix weekend.

    Both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had shown promising pace during the weekend, with the seven-time champion qualifying in fourth and his team-mate in seventh.

    The race, however, proved a disappointment for the team, with Schumacher retiring on lap 11 after losing all drive.

    Rosberg’s pace was not good enough to fight for the top positions and he finished in 12th position after making contact with Sauber’s Sergio Perez on the final lap.

    Brawn admitted his drivers had struggled with tyre degradation.

    “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.”

    Schumacher said he could have scored a good result had he not been hit by problems, and the German is still upbeat heading into Malaysia.

    “I believe I could have had a good race this afternoon, and I can still take some positives out of the weekend as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward. We can now build on that and start improving further.”


  5. After making contact with Mark Webber into the first corner, meaning a first lap retirement, Nico Hulkenberg aims to bounce back in Malaysia following this disappointing result. has the story.

    Nico Hulkenberg has vowed to quickly put behind him the disappointment of retiring from the Australian Grand Prix on the first lap for the second time in his career.

    The Force India driver has never made the second lap of the Albert Park race having been involved in contact at Turn 1 in both the 2010 and 2012 events.

    On this occasion his left rear tyre was struck by Mark Webber’s Red Bull, who himself had been hit from behind.

    “I don’t seem to have much luck at Albert Park,” said Hulkenberg. “I’m still not really sure what happened, but I got hit when I turned into the first corner on lap one.

    “It’s such a shame because I had made a great start, moved up a couple of positions and then I just felt somebody tap me from behind. There was a puncture and the suspension was damaged so my race was over and I had to park up.

    “These things happen when 22 cars are battling going into a tight first corner, but it’s really frustrating to miss out after such a good qualifying session. The good thing is that I will be back in the car in five days’ time, which is the best way to bounce back and get over the disappointment.”

    Team-mate Paul di Resta salvaged a point from a race he admitted he had struggled to get his car to compete in the midfield pack.

    “It’s always nice to start the season with a point, but it was not looking too promising until the last few laps when my engineer told me that I was catching the cars ahead of me,” he said. “Fortunately I had saved quite a bit of KERS for the last corner, which helped me get a good run on Vergne and beat him to the line for tenth.

    “It’s clear we have a lot of work to do because we were struggling for pace at the start of each stint, which hurt my overall race pace.”

  6. Daniel Ricciardo believes he was capable of finishing higher than ninth despite only gaining the position on a ‘crazy’ final lap of the Australian Grand Prix.

    The Australian started his final tour of Melbourne Park in 11th, directly behind Toro Rosso stablemate Jean-Eric Vergne and towards the back of a multi-car squabble for the lower order points.

    When Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Sergio Perez (Sauber) clashed, Ricciardo pounced, picking off Vergne on the exit of Turn 13 and benefiting from Rosberg’s puncture to seal ninth in a ‘crazy’ end to the grand prix.

    Ricciardo reckons however that his race had previously been affected by damage suffered at the start – without which he could have finished even higher up the order.

    “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.”

    Vergne also said his race had been complicated by the first lap melee, adding: “I got a super start and I had moved up a few places, but then Webber touched my right rear and I went straight on, losing a lot of time. After that, it was complicated as I was stuck behind cars I could not pass, even if they were considerably slower than me.

    “It’s just a shame that at the end I tried too hard and lost too much ground. That’s racing.

    “The car seems to be working well and we were competitive all weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track in Malaysia in a few days.”


  7. Sauber says recovery in troubled Australian Grand Prix shows the car’s true pace. has the story.

    Sauber’s fightback in the Australian Grand Prix, and its ability to score points with both cars despite a litany of troubles, proves the underlying pace of the C31, according to both its team principal and its two drivers.

    Sergio Perez gave perhaps the best demonstration, coming through from the back of the grid to finish eighth – and that after losing positions in a hectic final lap at Albert Park.

    Kamui Kobayashi, meanwhile, emerged in sixth following a late battle with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus. The Japanese driver had to cope with a damaged rear wing for the race’s duration after getting tagged by Perez in the first-corner melee.

    Team principal Peter Sauber hailed both drivers’ performances, and said they had been made possible because Sauber had delivered a fast car.

    “Both drivers delivered a fantastic race, especially Sergio, starting from last and finishing eighth,” he explained. “However, this is only possible with a fast car.

    “I’m very happy that we were able to fight back after a difficult qualifying. A big thank you to the team at the track and also the people back in Hinwil for designing a great car. We went into this season with high expectations and were able to deliver today.”

    Kobayashi labelled the race as a ‘great start to the season’, before adding: “After the start I nearly crashed into Bruno (Senna) who spun in front of me. I was lucky to avoid hitting him, but at the same time Sergio could not avoid touching me and then I had to do the whole race with a damaged rear wing. This was very difficult and for sure cost car performance.

    “However, after the first lap I had improved two positions. I was on a two stop strategy, with two sets of softs in the beginning and the medium compound for the last stint.

    “With my second pitstop I had bad luck with the timing because the safety car came out just after I had pitted. Then I was running in ninth position until the ultimate lap when Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and Sergio had a battle with Nico (Rosberg). I went passed and finished sixth.”

    Perez , who started from last after changing a gearbox, said his first corner touch with Kobayashi was just one of the ailments he suffered during the race.

    He insisted he was happy with the performance despite conceding position on the final lap.

    “After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gear box I knew I had to try everything to gain positions right after the start,” he explained. “I managed to get into 12th behind Kamui and touched his car while he had to avoid crashing into the Williams car in front of him. My front wing was then damaged and this was only one of the difficulties I had today during the race.

    “I also had to save tyres, also for some time fuel, and I had to fight to defend my position. It really was a tough race for me. On the very last lap Pastor crashed and I backed off, but then Nico overtook me, our cars touched and I had to finish the race with tyres that were completely gone.

    “Of course I’m not happy to have lost my position on the final lap, but I am very happy for the team because finishing sixth and eight is a good start to the season.”

  8. After finishing in a respectable fifth place following a difficult start to the weekend, Fernando Alonso has commented that small improvements to Ferrari will make a big difference. has the story.

    Fernando Alonso says small improvements to his Ferrari may make a big difference given how tight the field is following the Australian Grand Prix.

    Alonso and his team have found themselves further away from the top than they were hoping for, with the Spaniard starting the race from 12th position.

    The two-time champion, however, put on a superb performance in the race to finish in fifth position.

    Alonso conceded Ferrari is in no position to fight for wins at the moment, but he reckons gaining a few tenths may make a significant difference as the field is very closely matched.

    “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 as Vettel did in 2011.

    “That could be good for us. But we have look at ourselves and improve tenth by tenth. 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.”

    Alonso admitted he did not expect to be able to score 10 points after having qualified down in 12th, and the Spaniard said he was very happy with the result given the circumstances.

    “It’s been a good race in which we scored more points than expected,” he said. “In that sense, I’m very happy to be behind the Red Bulls and the McLaren having started from 12th, which was hard to predict. It’s been better than expected. Everything has gone well from the start.

    “The strategy was perfect. In the first stop we overtook the Mercedes and we nearly overtook Vettel. And then in the second stop we covered Rosberg and it worked out well. Webber passed us with the safety car, so he was a bit lucky with that. Then at the end with Pastor he was quite faster than me and I had some problems to defend my position.

    “I felt sorry when I looked in the mirror and saw he was out because he deserved fifth or sixth. But it was also a relief.”

  9. Following an excellent qualifying session in which Romain Grosjean qualified the Lotus in third position, the GP2 champion was forced out early following a clash with Pastor Maldonado as early as lap two. However Grosjean will take positives from his Australia display as reveals.

    Romain Grosjean remained upbeat despite his early exit from the Australian Grand Prix, as he believes Lotus proved it will be a major force in the 2012 Formula 1 season.

    The reigning GP2 champion qualified a superb third for his return to F1 racing, but lost three positions with a slow start and then retired following a second-lap clash with Williams driver Pastor Maldonado.

    But Grosjean said his frustration at the incident was lessened because he felt so confident about the rest of the season on the basis of Lotus’s Melbourne form.

    “The race was quite brief, but I think we have to take the positives from it,” he told AUTOSPORT.

    “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.”

    Grosjean felt Maldonado was entirely to blame for their collision.

    “He just arrived too quick and couldn’t turn his car,” said the Lotus driver. “There were yellow flags in Turn 12, and we all slowed down, and I don’t think he did. That gave him the advantage a bit and he was really fast at the end of the straight.

    “He tried to take me down the inside, but I’d already braked quite late. He came, I turned and I was not going to go straight into the gravel to give him space, and he couldn’t turn his car before hitting me and it broke my front suspension and that was it.”

  10. Heikki Kovalainen will lose five places on the grid of the Malaysian Grand Prix after being penalised following the race in Australia.

    The Caterham driver, who retired from the Melbourne race, was found to be in breach of Article 40.8 of the sporting regulations.

    The rules say no driver can overtake another car until he passes the first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is returning to the pits.

    Kovalainen overtook two cars before that and will therefore lose five places on the grid at Sepang.

    Kovalainen wrote on Twitter afterwards: “Tough day today, never mind one of those races that happen sometimes, bit harsh penalty from stewards for the next race but that’s life too!”


  11. After crashing out on the final lap while challenging Fernando Alonso for fifth, Pastor Maldonado has said he would have accepted his finishing position behind the Ferrari. has the details.

    Pastor Maldonado says his last lap crash at Melbourne was not a consequence of trying to harry Fernando Alonso and capture fifth.

    The Venezuelan driver had been set for his best grand prix finish when, on his final tour of the circuit, he lost the rear on the exit of Turn 6 and crashed heavily into the barriers.

    Maldonado said it had been a simple racing incident, and denied that it came as a result of trying to close on Alonso and steal fifth.

    “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.

    “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.

    “[After the accident] I said nothing on the radio, I was so angry. We are a bit disappointed, but that’s racing.”

    Maldonado also shrugged off his earlier clash with Romain Grosjean on lap two, which sent the Frenchman to an early retirement.

    “With Grosjean, I just tried to overtake him, did it and he went wide,” Maldonado reported.

    “It was a clean one. There was very little contact – very little, not enough to put him out.”

  12. Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna agreed that their collision late in the Australian Grand Prix was a racing incident in which no blame should be apportioned.

    The two Brazilians were fighting for 13th with Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo when they touched at Turn 3 on lap 47, leaving the Ferrari with broken suspension and giving the Williams a puncture.

    “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.

    “Then we both did the corner to the left, and he was on the outside and I was completely on the inside. I turned, even a little bit early because I didn’t know if he was trying to pass me from the outside. Then he turned in a little bit too much and we touched each other.

    “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 agreed that there was no malice in the tangle.

    “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.

    “You are fighting for every millimetre of the track and probably if I was a bit slower on the outside we would have probably just touched wheels and it would have been fine, but I was a bit faster and his front wing got in touch with my front tyre and that was that.”

    Massa was running down the order after having difficulty maintaining tyre life throughout the race.

    “I was very positive for the race, but then after five laps the rear tyres were completely going. I had no tyres, I was just sliding around at every corner and none of the other cars were losing tyres, just me,” he said.

    “I was failing completely with the balance of the car, not just talking about the race, but every day, the whole weekend. We need to understand why.”

    Senna and Ricciardo were also recovering from delays, having come together in the first-corner traffic jam.

    “I’ve spent a long time now looking at the video and I can see that everybody was clashing together there,” said Senna of the lap one clash.

    “I saw some cars moving and that’s why I went to the outside to get a bit more room, and then of course Danny had a problem with hitting someone and then he touched me.”


  13. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen says qualifying mistakes cost him the chance of racing much closer to the front. has the story.

    Kimi Raikkonen was left ruing the mistakes of qualifying on his return to Formula 1 race action as the Finn admitted that the Australian Grand Prix felt just like old times.

    The Lotus driver began the season-opener at Melbourne’s Albert Park from 17th on the grid but forged his way into the points to finish seventh.

    Afterwards he said that had he and the team not made the mistakes in qualifying that dropped them out of Q1, his track position would have given him a chance to race much closer to the front.

    “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.

    “When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well.

    “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.”

  14. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that his drivers could have been even quicker in the Australian Grand Prix if his team had not made a mistake with its fuel calculations.

    Jenson Button dominated the first race of the season in Melbourne, with Lewis Hamilton coming third after losing a place to Sebastian Vettel under the safety car, but the pair had to limit their pace from early on because they were using more fuel than the team had calculated they would.

    “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.”

    Whitmarsh paid tribute to the way that Button controlled the race from the front – with the Briton running error free

    “Jenson did a fantastic job,” he said. “He turned it on when he needed to. When he thought that Vettel after the safety car was going to get into a DRS zone he just opened the gap, so I think it was testament to him. He drove a really beautiful race: smooth, controlling, and he pressed when he needed to – just like a champion would.”

    Whitmarsh also thinks that Hamilton would have finished second if it had not been for his misfortune to have pitted the lap before a safety car – which helped Vettel overtake him in the pits.

    “The loss of place was simply that unfortunately we pitted with both cars, and immediately a safety car was called – which cost us 10 seconds,” explained Whitmarsh. “Had we decided not to double shuffle and keep him out for one lap, then we would have stayed ahead of Seb.

    “We had the pace and performance. This is quite a tricky track to overtake on, so we could have held that and got ourselves a 1-2. So we were a little unlucky – and Lewis will not like being on the lower step of the podium.

    “But he has had a strong weekend and I am sure he will be even more determined to go to the next race, show how quick he is in qualifying and get the job done there.”


  15. Shall I tell you what’s bugging me most about this race, even now. Its Hamilton boy does he know how to throw his toys out of the pram. Did you see him at the press conference he’s the only baby in F1.

    For me the most impressive was Alonso. How he managed to get 5th with that dog that ferrari call a f1 car to finish 5th is beyond me.

    People who should get fired after the first race: Massa, Webber, Shuie. Move over you’re not winning any titles who are you kidding.

    Hamilton you have a f**king dream job you had the chance to win but you blew it. There’s more races to come. Quit crying.

    Sorry for ranting on your blog it’s been pissing me off all weekend.

    I hope it doesn’t ruin things in the mclaren garage they have the best chance this year.

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