19 March 2012

Button wins F1 season opener ahead of Vettel and Hamilton

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:
Pos Driver Team Time Points
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:34:09.565 25
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 -  
DNS Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth -  

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