McLaren’s decision to overhaul their MP4-26 in time for the first race was vindicated.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’24.307 (-0.472)||1’24.779|
Hamilton was a full second slower than Sebastian Vettel in final practice, but just two-tenths off Mark Webber’s time. In qualifying he found an extra couple of tenths and split the Red Bulls to start on the front row.
He bogged down at the start and only hitting the KERS button allowed him to stay in front of Webber. Vettel streaked away and only towards the end of the first stint was Hamilton able to match his lap times.
Later in the race Hamilton was told to back off as part of his undertray worked loose. Despite dropping his pace quite considerably in the final laps he was still able to finish second.
Button lined up fourth but lost out to Vitaly Petrov and Felipe Massa at the start.
He fought Massa hard for fifth in the opening laps, trying passes on several different parts of the circuit. He eventually got alongside Massa on the way into turn 11, but darted across the escape road and kept the position. He was handed a drive-through penalty.
Given the penalty Alonso received at Silverstone last year, Button could be criticised for not taking it upon himself to give the place back.
But on the other hand the stewards turned a blind eye to two other off-track overtaking moves involving Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Buemi, so perhaps Button was hard done by.
The penalty cost Button precious time but he was aided by Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg colliding.
He overtook Kamui Kobayashi and later caught Massa again. But with the Ferrari driver by now on the hard tyres Button was able to use his DRS to pass him on the pit straight, taking sixth.
Without the penalty he might well have joined Hamilton on the podium.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he was happy with the result given the team’s testing form: “When you consider where we were a few weeks ago, you?óÔé¼Ôäód have to say that for us to come away from Australia with 26 world championship points is a pretty decent outcome.
“More important, though, it means that we?óÔé¼Ôäóve got a very promising platform from which to develop our car and compete for world championship honours this season.”
2011 Australian Grand Prix
- Hamilton and Button expect more from McLaren
- Sauber will not appeal Australia disqualification
- 2011 Australian Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Who was the best driver of the Australian Grand Prix weekend?
- No home advantage for Webber at Red Bull
- Relief at McLaren after last-minute changes pay off
- Ferrari look for answers on missing pace
- Collisions spoil Mercedes’ start to the season
- Petrov fires Renault with fine drive to first podium
- Unreliability and driver errors hold Williams back
Browse all 2011 Australian Grand Prix articles
Image ?é?® Pirelli