Button triumphs in Melbourne as Vettel crashes out

Jenson Button the race winner, ahead of Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa

Jenson Button the race winner, ahead of Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa

Sebastian Vettel was robbed of a probable victory in Australia as a mechanical problem cost him the lead halfway through the race. Anyone getting a sense of deja vu?

The German led well for the first half of the race, before a front left brake failure meant he spun out at Turn 13. This left the door wide open for Jenson Button to win the race, who had made good progress from a slick tyre gamble at the start of the race.

Button, Alonso and Schumacher all collide at Turn 1

Button, Alonso and Schumacher all collide at Turn 1

When the cars lined up for the formation lap, the track was wet, so all cars were on intermediates. The wet conditions meant it was even more dangerous at the first corner. Like I predicted, there was a first-corner crash, but not in the way we expected. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher all went for the same piece of track, and Alonso ended up back to front, while Schumacher had to pit for a new front wing. Both of these drivers fell to the back, but benefited from the safety car being called out for another crash. With another sense of deja vu, Kamui Kobayashi had a front wing failure at Turn 3, and smashed into Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastien Buemi, taking both out on the spot.

Kobayashi takes out Hulekenberg and Buemi after another front wing failure

Kobayashi takes out Hulekenberg and Buemi after another front wing failure

Even with the safety car deployed, there were more retirements to come. Jarno Trulli and Bruno Senna fell prey to their new cars’ reliabiliy problems, and stopped soon enough after the start.

After the safety car pitted on Lap 5, the race got underway. Mark Webber lost a place at the start to Felipe Massa, then was overtaken by Robert Kubica at Turn 1 when the race resumed. By the next lap, Button made the very risky move to switch to slick tyres, seeing as how the track was still damp in places. On the first corner after he pitted, he ran straight off, but recovered well to be setting fastest laps in 2 laps time.

This news resulted in a mad scramble for tyres on Lap 8, with most of the field bar the Red Bulls pitting that lap. Sebastian Vettel stopped the next lap, and got away with it, but Webber’s stop on Lap 10 was too late, and he lost further positions. He attempted to make it up by making a move on Felipe Massa, but ran wide, and lost even more places.

Meanwhile, at the back, Alonso and Schumacher had work to do. While Fernando got stuck into getting past the backmarkers, which he did well, Schumacher had a disaster, struggling to get past Jaime Alguersuari for most of the day, and completely ruined his race. When he tried a move on Lucas di Grassi a few laps earlier, the Brazilian responded by taking the position back the next corner, resulting in many smiles in the Virgin garage. While he didn’t keep the position, it must have been a great sight to see a new driver in a new team keeping his own against Michael Schumacher.

While one Ferrari worked his way up the grid, the other was defending himself against Lewis Hamilton. The Briton made a move at Turn 1, and got away with it, but damaged his front wing in the process. The damage wasn’t enough to nessecitate a pit stop though.

Vettel loses control after a suspected brake failure

Vettel loses control after a suspected brake failure

Vettel was still leading at this point, but not for long. On Lap 25, he crashed out at Turn 13, ending his chances of a win for the second race in a row. He reported on the team radio that there was a front left brake failure, but this is yet to be confirmed. His crash handed the lead to Jenson Button, who took the lead and never let go of it throughout the race.

The next issue concerned the entire field. By around Lap 30 out of 58, there were two options: Pit once more and put on the soft tyres, or keep going on the same set for the rest of the race. When the track had dried out at the start, all the drivers except Robert Kubica had taken on the soft tyres. When the chance to pit again later cam around, most some took it while others stayed out. Button, Kubica, Massa and Alonso were the frontrunners who opted to stay out. Schumacher, Rosberg, Hamilton and Barrichello decided to pit, and all took on the soft tyres. Don’t forget that since there was rain, both compounds of tyres do not have to be used throughout the race.

The gamble to pit did not pay off for these drivers. Schumacher still wasn’t going anywhere, Rosberg’s car wasn’t quick enough to catch up to Kubica, and Hamilton got stuck behind Massa and Alonso while trying to catch up to Button.

After the mad scrambles around the track for the first half, the main battle in the second half was between Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton and Webber. Lewis rued the decision to pit, as he had become stuck behind the Ferraris for the rest of the race. Amazingly, while Button had conserved his tyres well, Hamilton ripped up his tyres even after his pit stop, which further hampered his efforts.

This battle for third all went horribly wrong with 3 laps to go. Hamilton tried a move on Alonso at Turn 15, Webber made a mistake and slammed into Hamilton, which broke Webber’s front wing and meant Rosberg got ahead of Hamilton. Mark pitted instantly, but fell to 9th. He apologised to Hamilton after the race, but Lewis was more angry about the strategy mistake.

Jenson Button celebrates after taking his first win for McLaren

Jenson Button celebrates after taking his first win for McLaren

While all this was happening, Button was sailing away to his first victory with McLaren. Smooth tyre managment and good pace throughout, as well as good tactical choices, meant a comfortable finish for the Briton. He crossed the line first, with Robert Kubica 12 seconds behind, and Massa finished off the podium. Alonso got 4th to keep his lead in the championship, Rosberg benefited from Hamilton’s and Webber’s woes to finish 5th, then Hamilton ended up 6th. Vitantonio Liuzzi drove clean and consistently to finish 7th, Barrichello was 8th, Webber was 9th, and Schumacher was 10th after overtaking Alguersuari and De La Rosa in the final few laps.

Lotus and HRT got their first finishes, albeit 2 and 5 laps down respectively. Heikki Kovalainen, like I said, did a good job to get 13th, while Karun Chandhok survived a few mistakes to finish 14th. Both of the Virgin drivers, Trulli and Senna all had mechanical problems.

It was a fantastic race, which firmly shut up all the whingers who complain about Formula 1 being boring. Interestingly enough, the rain wasn’t really needed to make a great race, so we can all look forward to Malaysia next weekend.

Drivers and Constructors championship standings have been updated, you can view them here.

Pictures and analysis to follow soon.

Full result:

Driver Team Gap # of laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 58
2 Robert Kubica Renault 12.034 58
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 14.488 58
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 16.304 58
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 16.683 58
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 29.898 58
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 59.847 58
8 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 60.536 58
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 67.319 58
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 69.391 58
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 71.301 58
12 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 74.084 58
13 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2 Laps 56
14 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 5 Laps 53
Not Classified
15 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 17 Laps 41
16 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 32 Laps 26
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 33 Laps 25
18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 49 Laps 9
19 Vitaly Petrov Renault 49 Laps 9
20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 54 Laps 4
21 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 58 Laps 0
22 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 58 Laps 0
23 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 58 Laps 0
24 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 58 Laps 0

3 responses to “Button triumphs in Melbourne as Vettel crashes out

  1. pickle92 March 29, 2010 at 17:02

    Great result for McLaren (apart from the balls up with Lewis). Jenson showed that he is one of the most tyre friendly drivers of the sport. Kubica also impressed me a lot by holding off everybody behind him for so long.
    PS: I also write Grand Prix reviews (but not as in depth as you).

  2. Pingback: Senior Focus: Share weight goals, triumphs | Overcoming Procrastination

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