Jenson Button has scored the first of the season in the opening round at Melbourne 2.1s ahead of the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton completed the podium in third place, almost 2s further down the road.
When the 5 red lights went out, it was Button that has the best start, ousted his team mate from the lead upon arriving at the 1st corner. 3rd place man Grosjean meanwhile suffered a poor start, dropping to 6th place. Mercedes duo of Schumacher and Rosberg were in 3rd and 4th at that time.
Positions were changed again at the front in Lap 2, when Vettel took Rosberg and Maldonado accidentally took Grosjean out, an unstabled situation which was capitalized by hard-charging Alonso to steal 6th place from his 12th grid position. By Lap 10, it was all-world champion in top three, with Button leading the pack, followed by Hamilton and Schumacher. Vettel is also just 0.5 seconds behind the Mercedes. However, some gear shift problem left Schumacher out of the race in Lap 11, pity considering that this could be one of his best race upon his comeback tenure.
By mid-race, the 18th place Raikonen is already in 8th. He actually demonstrated some spirited driving, taking Massa and Kobayashi within 2 laps. Had he started higher up the grid, the story could very well be different. More details after the jump.
The race was punctuated by the safety car in 35th lap due to the stricken Caterham F1 of Petrov. By this time the order was Button, Vettel, Hamilton, Weber, Alonso, Maldonado, Perez, Rosberg, Raikkonen with Kobayashi's Sauber completing the top 10. No significant changes were observed during the restart 4 laps later, with Button was clearly faster that Vettel's Red Bull despite his sudden upped in pace in closing laps.
The track was littered in debris in final lap, resulting in several swerving between drivers to avoid the contact with bodywork pieces. Due to this, Rosberg actually crossed the line with a puncture, and the ever-optimistic Raikkonen overtook the over-cautious Perez in the penultimate corner of the last lap to steal 7th place.
The full results can be found below:
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||+2.1 secs||18|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||+4.0 secs||15|
|4||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||+4.5 secs||12|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||+21.5 secs||10|
|6||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||+36.7 secs||8|
|7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||+38.0 secs||6|
|8||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||+39.4 secs||4|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||+39.5 secs||2|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+39.7 secs||1|
|11||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||+39.8 secs|
|12||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||+57.6 secs|
|13||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||+1 Lap|
|14||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||+1 Lap|
|15||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||+5 Laps|
|16||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||+6 Laps|
|Ret||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||+12 Laps|
|Ret||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||+20 Laps|
|Ret||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||+24 Laps|
|Ret||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||+48 Laps|
|Ret||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||+57 Laps|
|Ret||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||+ 58 Laps|
|DNS||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||-|