'Unbeatable' Button lays down daunting marker

Briton dominates season curtain raiser to leave Vettel in awe and Hamilton in his wake

Albert Park

Jenson Button tore a page from the 2011 Sebastian Vettel F1 Driving Manual in Melbourne yesterday, and won his third Australian GP in a style that left the reigning world champion impressed and magnanimous.

"Congratulations to McLaren and to Jenson, he drove a fantastic race and was unbeatable today," Vettel said after finishing second, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren.

"The first few laps I knew I had to push hard," Button said. "I knew that Lewis would be right on my tail and I obviously had to try to get away because of the DRS [rear wing] after lap two, so that was important. We were all going a bit into the unknown in the race. The longest run I did was about eight laps on Friday – and obviously the conditions were very different. So, going into the race, trying to understand what wing angle to use, tyre pressures and everything, was very tricky.

"I think we got it close but it wasn't quite right but the second and third runs for me were much better. We had more of an understanding of what the car felt like in the first stint and the second and third ones were much stronger.

"All in all I'm happy with the car, there were a few areas where I think it could have been a little bit better – but I think that we did a pretty damn good job this weekend."

Vettel admitted that his start was interesting. "I think I had a good start first off, getting off the line was important. Then it's a bit tricky here because Turn One is quite difficult to find the right point to hit the brakes."

He lost time having to overtake the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg which passed him at the start, as he aware that the McLarens were getting away. "They were bye-bye, so I had to make sure that we were not losing too much ground," he added.

Hamilton had started from pole position but lost out to Button at the start, then lost time during his first pit stop and was running a distant second when Vitaly Petrov stopped his Caterham on the pit straight with power steering problems on the 36th lap. That coincided with both McLarens' second pit stops, and triggered the deployment of the safety car. Vettel decided to stay out one lap longer when he saw Hamilton coming in and that, allied to the benefit of the safety car, was enough to move his Red Bull into second.

When the racing resumed on lap 42 Button simply checked out and left Vettel to fend off Hamilton and Mark Webber, who had had to fight back from a first-corner clash involving his Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India which dropped him to ninth.

"Obviously I thought I'd have another go at Jenson but after the first two or three corners after the restart he was already quite far away," Vettel said. "I was struggling, at that time I was holding Lewis up a little bit and Jenson was pulling away too much. I think once I got settled the lap times weren't too bad, the speed wasn't too bad, but I think overall he was too quick today for the whole race. So, out of sight."

By the flag, Button was a comfortable 2.1sec ahead of Vettel, with Hamilton 1.9sec further down and Webber within 0.4sec of him.

"Mark was very quick," a glum Hamilton admitted. "I damaged my tyres behind Sebastian, then I decided to drop back a little bit so I had some clear air, but Mark was definitely putting pressure on. The Red Bulls were very quick down the straight, so there was no chance of getting past Seb.

"I just struggled out there. 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 a 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.

"It's OK. It's a pretty poor standard compared to some others. I'll 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."

Button could show his team-mate one or two things about consistency, as he never put a wheel wrong.

"Every race you win is very special," he said, "but I think starting the year strong for this team is really important and the last two years for us have been tricky coming into the first race. So to come away with Lewis's pole yesterday and the victory today, I think puts us in a great position for the next few races and on the right foot.

"A big thank you to everyone within the team who's worked so hard. I saw our mechanics this morning who said 'This curfew [rule where teams are not allowed to work on the car overnight] is great – it's the first rest we've had since the start of the year', so big thanks to all of them and everyone at Woking who has worked those extra hours to get these extra parts out."

Psychologically it was an important victory for McLaren, their 176th, as they needed to beat Red Bull after two years of playing catch up. It was, Button said succinctly, "A fantastic day!"

MELBOURNE RESULTS

Final positions (58 laps) Points

1 J Button (GB) McLaren 1hr 34mins 09.565secs 25

2 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:34:11.704 18

3 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:34:13.640 15

4 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:34:14.112 12

5 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:34:31.130 10

6 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari 1:34:46.331 8

7 K Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 1:34:47.579 6

8 S Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:34:49.023 4

9 D Ricciardo (Aus) Toro Rosso 1:34:49.121 2

10 P di Resta (GB) Force India 1:34:49.302 1

11 J-E Vergne (Fr) Toro Rosso 1:34:49.413

12 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:35:07.207

13 P Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 lap

14 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia at 1 lap

15 Charles Pic (Fr) Marussia at 5 laps

 

Not classified: 16 B Senna (Br) Williams 52 laps completed, 17 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 46 laps, 18 H Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 38 laps, 19 V Petrov (Rus) Caterham 34 laps, 20 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 10 laps, 21 R Grosjean (Swit) Lotus F1 Team 1 lap, 22 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 0 laps.

 

Manufacturers: 1 McLaren 40pts, 2 Red Bull 30, 3 Sauber-Ferrari 12, 4 Ferrari 10, 5 Lotus F1 6, 6 Toro Rosso 2, 7 Force India 1, 8= Mercedes GP 0, Marussia 0, Williams 0, Caterham 0.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own