2012 Australian F1 GP: Jenson and McLaren Mercedes push right Button
The 2009 world champion scored his third Australian Grand Prix victory in the last four years by snatching the lead at the start from team mate and pole setter Lewis Hamilton, who held a distant second until Vitaly Petrov stopped on the pit straight with power steering problems in his Caterham on the 36th lap, causing the deployment of the safety car. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had just pitted both of their cars that lap, but German Red Bull driver SebastianVettel decided to stay out one lap longer, and also took advantage out of the safety car phase. These two elements were enough to move his Red Bull into second position and preventing the silver arrows from scoring a long-awaited one two.
When the racing resumed on Lap 42, Jenson Button simply ran off the following pack and left German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel to fend off Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Hamilton and his Australian team mate Mark Webber, whoâ€™d been sentenced to an afternoon of fighting back after a first-corner quarrel involving his Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonenâ€™s Lotus and Nico Hulkenbergâ€™s Force India.
While Sebastian Vettel tried desperately to reduce the gap to race leader Jenson Button, Australian Red Bull driver MarkWebber closed in on Lewis Hamilton, whose Vodafone McLaren never seemed to be as well balanced as his team mateâ€™s car. By the finishing line, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button was a comfortable 2.1s ahead of Vettel, with Hamilton 1.9s further down and Webber within 0.4s of him.
Further back in the field, Fernando Alonso scored an excellent fifth place for Ferrari after making a fantastic start to end the opening lap in eighth place after starting from P12 on the grid.
In the latter stages he had to defend himself hard against emerging Pastor Maldonado, who had pressured Lotusâ€™s Romain Grosjean into early retirement on the second lap, when the Frenchman broke his right front suspension against the rear of the passing Williams. The FW34 was showing excellent speed and pace. The Venezuelan was eagerly following Alonsoâ€™s wheel tracks until he came to grief in Turn Six.
This time he lost control and hit the wall hard on the 57th lap, throwing away sixth place and setting up a fierce battle between the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, Raikkonenâ€™s Lotus, the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, and Paul di Restaâ€™s Force India.
The rocket-starting silver arrows of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg faded due to various reasons, after an impressive performance in the qualifying session. The 7 times world champion had a brilliant start to overtake Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault and following the leading Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for a long time, before he went off in Turn One on the 11th lap due to a defect in the gear box.
The other Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was having a very promising race until he suddenly slowed down on the last lap after a collision with Perez had deflated the left-rear tire; Kamui Kobayashi made it home sixth infront of Kimi Raikkonen, who celebrated a great comeback. Perez clung on for eighth, with Ricciardo separated from him by 0.0s, Di Resta 0.1s further back, and Vergne another 0.1s down and just outside the points after a promising debut.
Nico Rosberg was classified 12th on a deeply disappointing day for Mercedes, who lacked the pace in the race that turned many heads in the qualifying session. Williams were similarly disappointed. Maldonado was classified 13th, while Bruno Senna was involved in the first corner incident thus losing time, and later had a silly collision with fellow countryman Felipe Massa which cost them both a lot. Maldonado finished in 16th place, while Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa had to retire due to a bent suspension. The incident is still being investigated by the stewards.
Between the Williams duo came the two Marussias of Timo Glock and Charles Pic, which ran reliably in what can be regarded as their first serious test session.
In addition to Hulkenberg, whose car was too badly damaged after the first-corner collision, thus joining the retirement list which was composed of Grosjean, Schumacher, Petrov and Massa, there was Heikki Kovalainen, whose Caterham dropped out with a left-hand front suspension problem. The Finn also received a five-place grid penalty for the next round, which will be held in Malaysia for overtaking under the safety car.
The result leaves Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button in the lead of the Formula1 world championship with 25 points, to Sebastian Vettelâ€™s 18,Lewis Hamiltonâ€™s 15, Mark Webberâ€™s 12 and Fernando Alonsoâ€™s 10, while McLaren leads the constructorsâ€™ points with 40 to Red Bullâ€™s 30, Sauberâ€™s 12 and Ferrariâ€™s 10.
Melbourne - Cairo - Abu Dhabi