Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012

Jenson Button starts his season with an emphatic win in Melbourne

2012 Australian Grand Prix reportPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012Jenson Button produced a dominant performance to win the first race of 2012.

He took the lead from team mate Lewis Hamilton at the start and never looked back.

Sebastian Vettel split the two McLaren drivers on the podium after a safety car period played into his hands.

Button grabs the lead

A frantic first lap set the scene for the race: close action in the midfield, but at the front a consummate performance from Button.

As Hamilton bogged down, Button got “excited” and shifted up into second too quickly. Despite that he was was cleanly into a lead he rarely looked like losing.

From third on the grid, Romain Grosjean started slowly, finding trouble selecting second gear. Nico Rosberg, who started four places back, drew alongside him on the outside of the first corner. Rosberg braked later and made the turn, taking up fourth behind his team mate.

Grosjean’s race didn’t last much a longer. Pastor Maldonado dived down the inside of him at turn 13 on the next lap, the pair made contact and the Lotus’s front suspension broke.

Vettel picked off Nico Rosberg on the second lap, sweeping around the outside of the Mercedes at turn nine. He set off after Michael Schumacher, but went off at turn one on lap six and briefly fell back into the clutches of Rosberg.

Rosberg was under pressure from Fernando Alonso, who’d made remarkable progress from 12th on the grid.

Mark Webber made a poor start by his own admission and suffered damage to his RB8 in contact with Nico Hulkenberg. Having fallen to ninth he passed Maldonado when the Williams driver collided with Grosjean, and took up the running behind Alonso.

Massa hits tyre trouble

The other Ferrari of Felipe Massa had also started well and he too moved up at Maldonado’s expense. But within the fist ten laps he was struggling with tyre wear and Maldonado re-passed him.

Button pulled away quickly at the start, building up a 3.4s lead over Hamilton. His advantage was boosted by Vettel’s mistake and Schumacher’s retirement on lap 11. By lap 13, the closest driver to him besides his team mate was Vettel, 13 seconds behind.

Massa came in to shed his worn tyres on lap 12, and the drivers in front soon began to pit in response.

McLaren faced a dilemma familiar to Red Bull last year, of how to manage the pit stops of their drivers who were running one-two, without inadvertently handing one an advantage over the other.

“We give control for selection of the lap to the car in front,” explained Whitmarsh. So it was Button who came in first, followed by Hamilton on the next lap.

At their second stops McLaren brought both their cars in together: “We nearly did it at the first stop – we chickened out of that one,” added Whitmarsh.

Vettel followed Button in on lap 17. When Hamilton emerged from the pits on the following lap he came out behind Sergio Perez, who was repeating Sauber’s tactics from last year of running a long first stint on the harder tyre.

Hamilton spent a costly two laps behind Perez before using DRS to pass him on lap 21. Vettel, now within range of the McLaren, followed him past on the same lap.

The next man past was Alonso, who was running in an impressive fourth place in a Ferrari which had looked a handful all weekend.

Further back Rosberg and Webber were disputing fifth place. Webber took a brave look at Rosberg in the high-speed turn 11, but backed out of it just as Rosberg realised he couldn’t make the corner and took to the escape road.

The Mercedes driver pitted at the end of the lap, releasing Webber to hunt down Alonso. He took over a second per lap out of the Ferrari before Alonso, too, headed for the pits.

Hamilton loses out under safety car

After passing Perez, Hamilton initially made an impression on Button’s lead, bringing it down to under ten seconds. But by the time they were ready for their second pit stops the gap was back up to ten seconds and McLaren felt they could risk bringing both their drivers in on the same lap without losing any time.

They were ill-rewarded for this risky move as the appearance of the safety car shortly afterwards ultimately cost Hamilton second place to Vettel.

Vettel believed he would have had a chance at passing the McLaren even without the safety car appearance, which was triggered by Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham stopping by the start/finish line.

But in another respect the safety car was good news for McLaren, as the team had found they were using fuel at a quicker rate than they expected and needed to back off to make sure they reached the finish.

Having let the lapped cars move out of the way – a revived procedure that not all the drivers in the queue seemed to be ready for – the safety car released the field for a 17-lap sprint to the finish.

Button pulled 1.9 seconds out on Vettel at the restart. Behind him Hamilton initially kept Vettel in range before slipping back – the pair and Webber in a three-way stalemate.

Maldonado’s last-lap blunder

Behind him the action built to a dramatic climax. Maldonado was piling the pressure on Alonso for fifth place and as they headed into turn three he braked desperately lately, almost hitting the back of the F2012.

A few corners later he came completely unstuck, battering the barriers at turn seven. He had been on course for sixth place – better than any Williams managed last year.

Further back his team mate’s race had ended after contact with the other Ferrari. Bruno Senna had been knocked into a spin on the first lap and was making a recovery drive. He tried to take Massa on the outside of turn four and the pair collided, putting both out.

Maldonado’s crash wasn’t the only last-lap drama. Perez made contact with Rosberg while trying to pass, damaging one of Mercedes’ tyres and dropping Rosberg out of the top ten.

The cars behind pounced and Kimi Raikkonen took three places in the final lap to clinch seventh.

Perez hung on to seventh while Daniel Ricciardo and Paul di Resta passed Jean-Eric Vergne for the final points places.

Both Marussia drivers were classified despite their car having done no pre-season testing. Timo Glock celebrated his birthday with 14th place.

Maldonado, Senna and Charles Pic were all classified despite having stopped, leaving just 13 cars circulating at the finish.

“Every lap it felt a little bit in doubt”

If Button’s run to victory had looked straightforward, he said it wasn’t. “Every lap it felt a little bit in doubt,” he admitted afterwards.

McLaren’s win shows they can challenge Red Bull’s supremacy in 2012. But despite their strong showing Hamilton looked distinctly unhappy after a race which saw him start first and finish third.

2012 Australian Grand Prix

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254 comments on “Jenson Button starts his season with an emphatic win in Melbourne”

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  1. Poor performance from massa, he has to go

    1. I’m baffled as to how he’s stayed in F1 for so long. Fair enough he was almost champion in 2008 but since then he’s lacked pace.

    2. To fellow Hamilton’s fans
      With the quality of performance given to us today by Lewis, we can rightfully conclude that even if Button hadn’t o’taken Ham at the start, he still would have passed him. And since Hamilton couldn’t maximize the potentials of the car, he would have messed up Button’s race had he stayed in front of Button. Considering also how long it took Ham to pass Schumacher and Button’s relative ease in doing so during one of the races last year, and Hamiltons long ride behind Perez today, I would say sadly that Hamilton seems to be fast becoming just another driver on the grid.
      As for Massa, I would say that Ferrari have ”tried” in staying with him this much. Time to cut the cord.

      1. And all this on the basis of the result of….ONE race, eh? Stunning analysis.

      2. I believe Hamilton was very impressive in the second stint when he controlled the gap to a chasing Vettel, even as he was on the medium(slower tire) and Vettel was on the faster soft tire. At that point I realised how much faster the McLaren is and fuel load could have been a major factor in Hamilton’s finish.

        1. I assume you also noticed how Vettel was able to keep his soft tire from degrading as quickly as Hamilton lost his medium (and longer-lasting) tire?

      3. Thinking about it now..
        I am quite sorry for my harsh judgement of these 2 great drivers whom I greatly admire. I am happy that Maclaren were able to garner the extra 15 points from Lewis’ careful finish in 3rd place cos those points could also have been lost had he made a ”controversial” attempt on Perez.
        As for Massa, I hope his fortunes greatly turn around with Ferrari, after all the season is just beginning.
        I wish both drivers well!

      4. MercedesBeanz
        18th March 2012, 15:04

        ‘Baffelledd’ is the right word to describe Lewis’ car performance. How do you out-qualify your team-mate by a tenth and half, and then have that margin reversed in 24hrs!!
        Button could win another thousand races over lewis, but to us who understand how this sport really works, he’ll always be vastly over-rated…disgrace!

        1. Over-rated? Button?
          Did you see the race? He was far from over-rated, he was simply the best today! It’s rather Lewis who’s over-rated and spoilt. Disgrace!

          1. He was good, Alonso was better than him. He’s a great driver, nobody can deny that, but what he did today was a great start and controlling the race from the best spot and you and me know how meaningful it is leading a race in Melbourne.

          2. Button spent the whole race building a lead and setting fastest laps. What else can you ask of him?

        2. Button could win another thousand races over lewis, but to us who understand how this sport really works, he’ll always be vastly over-rated…disgrace!

          Yes, stick your fingers in your ears, put dirt in your eyes, and sing loudly to prevent you from making a reasoned judgement.

      5. Damn Latina! I think it’s to early for such conclusions. You mentioned the Italian GP but forgot that Lewis won in Abu Dhabi months later!

        I bet you were hoping he forced an overtake move so you could make your case of the “reckless Lewis”. When he’s cautious he put him in the same bag as Massa as a loser… that’s harsh girl.

        1. Yeah, I think it is too early for such harsh words. I was just disappointed with Lewis’ performance and so said what I did, but I have also calmed down knowing that the season is just beginning. I just wish he could win this title.

      6. To fellow Hamilton’s fans

        I really admire your honesty regardless if you’re really a Lewis fan but conclusions can’t be drawn from other races in 2011 as well as just the current sole race of the new season, there’s plenty of racing left to be seen during this season. Other than that, Another brilliant, confident & dominant performance, Vettel-esque to say the least by JB.

        Massa, I have nothing to say about his performance this weekend. Not trying to be derogatory but i wish there was a series on this website regarding under performed drivers of the weekend or something along the lines.

      7. themagicofspeed (@)
        19th March 2012, 8:57

        Massa has had enough chances. Enough is enough. He should have been out the door last year, with a year to go on his contract (they paid Raikkonen off under the same situation) but Ferrari were either skint or went soft.

      8. Massa has never been the same after taking that spring to the head. He never will be the same (also the brutal loss in 2008 on the last lap can’t help). He won’t be at Ferrari next year, BUT he will be in F1….

        As for Lewis, I’m not really for or against Lewis, but I think your comment is silly. He is good. He is one of the ‘best’. But that is what he has always been, so if people think Lewis is the best there ever was, they’re mistaken, but I wouldn’t call him “just another driver”.

    3. What I’ve learned today:

      1. Massa will not drive a Ferrari next year
      2. Red Bull has less to improve than I thought
      3. Sergio Perez will drive a Ferrari next year
      4. Saubers and Williams are very good
      5. Ferrari has some pace (at least when driven by Alonso)
      6. Lewis Hamilton needs a win soon to relax (he seems too worried about what people will say about his moves)
      7. Webber will be in the mix.

      1. Hear hear!

        Would add a qualifying “race” ahead of the pace in option 5, and
        8. Mercedes chew through tyres still, but have good qualy pace.

        Methinks this supposed duct gives them good balance when using DRS.

      2. Yeah..

      3. What we did not learn; Where Rubens might have finished had Williams kept him ?

        1. Arijit (@arijitmaniac)
          19th March 2012, 4:56

          Thats an excellent question… Really… Being the most experienced F1 driver ever has its own advantages :)

        2. That would have been interesting.

          Not in the wall at Turn 8, I bet.

        3. I think it could have quite possibly been a heroic 5th.

      4. Should you add that Kimi still a brilliant driver. He was the driver who gained more positions in the race (10), except Perez who stopped just once. His times were very consistent and faster than the guys in front many times. My guess is that he could have easily been on podium if he didn’t have missed the last lap in classification. Can’t wait for the next round.

        1. Yes! We need him not below row#3 in Sepang.

    4. Agree with most of the comments posted, but I think that Ferrari have been patient enough with Massa. I’d give him 2 more races. If he can’t deliver, then he’s out the door. Ferrari have the juice and the money to get any driver they want. Luca needs to man up now and do what’s best for the team.

      1. Totally not gona happen.Ferrari need to sort out their car way before they sort out their drivers.Sorry but Alonso is a bad reference point for Massa’s performance.Massa is not a driver capable of handling this dog of a car,neither is the most of the grid for that matter.Precious few drivers able to handle this monstrosity wouldn’t touch it with a yardstick.So i’m afraid ferrari are stuck with Massa for the time being.Btw this is my first post on F1F,im glad to be a part of this community.

        1. Well, what is a good reference point? Shumacher or Kimi? There aren’t any other reference points for Massa, they all did better than he did today. . As far a a pig of a car… well Alonso it to got 5th today. We would have to wait for another ice age to get a car from Ferrari that Massa could win in. Put a fork in Massa, he’ done.

          1. It’s 5th because it’s driven by Alonso,not because it’s fundamentally fast.He is done(Massa),but with whom would you replace him with.What top class driver would want to drive that thing,and be number two to Alonso btw.And to replace him with another mediocre driver is no solution,it’ll be more of the same me thinks.Alonso is not a reference point for Masssa because one is a top class driver,and another is a mediocre at best,there’s a reason why Massa is a number two driver.

          2. He beat Kimi in 2008….

        2. Shane (@shane-pinnell)
          18th March 2012, 23:10

          I could definitely see Massa being replaced by any number of their development drivers if, and only if, the title seems out of their grasp. I think as long as they are championship contenders Massa is safe. If their pace isn’t up to the challenge of McLaren or RedBull, then I could see Ferrari doing some serious soul searching come the summer break.

          1. I doubt it, Massa is better than any of their development drivers and he’s always been a decent ‘development’ driver himself. Also, Ferrari doesn’t use their development drivers the way other teams do. In the past they haven’t really pulled anyone out of the ranks and the one time I can remember them doing it (Bodoer) it was disastrous and he was immediately replaced by someone they swiped from another team (Fisi). If they replaced him tomorrow, they would be more likely to use someone with experience and a name. Almost any of the drivers outside of Mac, Merc, RBR would break their contracts to go there and if they didn’t take a current driver they would look to something like Heidfeld, Trulli, Rubens, even Buemi, and dare I say Kubica….

      2. Ferrari might be patient with Massa but how long will Alonso be patient with scrapy Ferrari???

        1. Good point…I think he said he would finish his career at Ferrari and with 2 WDC’s I can kind of see him being patient, but if the car is really that bad it will wear thin quickly.

    5. It’s clear the F2012 isn’t to his liking, and it’s hard to criticise him for this. However in 2010 he had the speed it required for him to win, but in 2011 everything faded away. It’s unlikely he went from being a potential winner to not being able to finish on the podium just based on him, and not on the car, but if he finishes this season like last year then he will definitely not be confirmed at Ferrari.

      1. Drop Valencia
        18th March 2012, 12:21

        He had one good race in 2010, even then he was struggling to hold off Alonso (before the order).
        Massa won’t last past the Summer break unless he wins.

        1. Well, at least in 2010 he wasn’t that bad.

          Last year and this race, it was rather dreadful. I like Massa, but the performance is not there. And if that’s not there, what can you do?

    6. The 50 euros I spent on him a week ago are crying right now.

      1. This won’t help, but I told you so :)

    7. Agreed I think his Ferrari days are numbered

      1. I’ve never seen such doom and gloom after just one race into a season! Albert Park is a very unusual circuit.

        Yes Massa had a bad race, and the Ferrari is not a top car. Yes Lewis had his butt kicked by Button. But people need to chill a little. Wait and see how the teams develop the cars and how the drivers adapt to driving them. The lack of rear downforce seemed to effect all the drivers at some point this weekend, even greats like Schumacher and Vettel struggled at times.

        Give everyone a few races into the season before making bold statements and calling for blood.

        1. I agree with you almost completely…Australia is always a toss up and not necessarily representative of the year to come, but, Massa has been off for a while….last year he was pretty bad and I don’t think it’s going to turn around…I think the accident he had has changed him…

  2. yeah he really has to go.

    I cant see how anybody would expect Hamilton to look happy if he finished 3rd behind Button and Vettel. Especially given how it was looking for him on pole. Button was superb. Vettel perhaps did get a bit lucky but he showed good pace too. If any of these 3 are to be world champion again thay will have to work very hard for it

    1. I think, Massa has maybe given up, the car looks to be rubbish, & Alo is always going to faster than him anyway. I mean yeah, for sure he’ll be getting paid well, but it can’t be easy for him. He may as well, just crash into people.

      1. Oops, to be faster than.

    2. I think Lewis lost the race on T1, in Melbourne it’s very important to lead and I don’t think Button would’ve win without that great start because nobody in McLaren would allow unnecessary racing between the two in GP#1. Lewis woudl’ve lead ’till the end in case he managed to fend off Jenson before turn 1.

      1. Lewis Hamiltons biggest problem is Lewis Hamilton. He needs to get passed all this stuff going on in his head. ok so he got jumped at the start, but Jenson was still way quicker for that first stint, and after the safety car he made little effort to overtake or challenge Vettel, he just accepted his fate and drove for the line collectiing the points. Where is the fighter, out and out racer that we all enjoyed before. People will argue that his been subjected to unfair stewards decisions, that he has been singled out by other drivers. But the truth is Lewis needs to sort his mind out, and although I am a McLaren fan (and a lewis one) I am beginning to think that he won’t be able to do this at McLaren, he needs new impetuous in his career and a change in direction may give him a jump start. After all they do say a change is as good as a rest!

        1. The racer was hammered back in by people – including some who claimed to be his fans – accusing him of “reckless” driving in the past two seasons, and with the Stewards always waiting to slap him with a penalty. That’s Lewis.
          Fingers crossed, he gets his act together for the next race. A race with a docile Lewis is a boring race.

          1. That’s exactly what a said in a comment above. Lewis must win one of the first 3 races and relax. He seems afraid of getting criticized. Button was faster, but not dramatically faster, he was 4 seconds behind after first stint and was exposed to Vettel once he had to pit after Jenson.

            But it was the first race, there was no point in racing Button fiercely.

          2. +1
            Hamilton needs a confidence and aggression reboot. It’s like Button and Whitmarsh have neutralized him with sensibleness: he needs to some passion back in his racing, the feeling he used to radiate with his driving that he considered it absurd he wasn’t leading the race. The two years of Red Bull dominance, after a year of Brawn/Red Bull, seem to have made him accept not being there and taken away some of his edge – by which I mean passion and concentration, as he showed in the first half of 2007, not the lapses and mistimed aggression. Time to wake up Lewis!

        2. There are 21 other drivers who would be overjoyed if they started the year with a podium, each of them would see it as a good first step towards the championship, far better than doing a Maldonado and crashing out.

        3. Maybe Alonso will ask Montezemolo to hire Hamilton as his partner. :)

          1. Actually, if I were Alonso, I would look for a job at Mercedes

  3. Sangeen Khan
    18th March 2012, 9:29

    Amazing performance from Fernando,really is the top guy out there.Brilliant races by Button and vettel (with a bit of his trademark luck).Appaling from mercedes.Rosberg really lacks in wheel to wheel fighting and race craft.Sauber and Williams pace was surprising.Caterham was a big disappointment after all their self hyping.And Massa needs to go before malaysia.Straight to Brazil from melbourne.

    1. massa was in trouble all the week-end it’s the car that was undrivable comparing him to Alonso is a bit harsh Fernando is the reference for all the drivers not only for him i doubt that any other driver on the grid could finish higher than 7/8 position with that Ferrari
      the performance of massa in the Ferrari is suitable with his status of a number 2 driver

      1. We have a saying in the trade…”A poor craftsman always blame his tools”

      2. We have a saying in the trade…”A poor craftsman always blames his tools”

        1. except these are all great craftsmen, so the tools make more difference

    2. I mostly agree, I just don’t feel as negative about Rosberg and Massa. Astonishing to see Alonso challenge for a 4th place for quite a while. The harder tyre still doesn’t seem to be ideal for the Ferrari, but at the moment what really is ideal there?!

      I just had an idea, in the analysis I would love to see a graph showing each drivers laptime as a percentage of the fastesttime driven that lap. That’d be interesting especially for drivers whose teammates dropped, but it would also give an indication of how a drivers race evolved.

      1. Very interesting lapchart idea @bananarama
        I agree about not feeling negative. Everyone hops on the forums to bash drivers when they do poorly even more than they do to praise them when they do well.

        The real fact of the matter is that all 24 of the men on the grid are exceptional drivers, talented, committed and brave as hell. Just to get to Formula One is an achievement, and it is far beyond the driving skill of us mere mortals.

  4. I really hope Ferrari resolves their troubles fast. Adding Alonso to the mix will provide for even more exciting season as well as Raikkonen, while his car seems very good it’s him who needs “tuning” but it should not take too long. Too bad Mercs race pace doesn’t look impressive, although I might be getting wrong impression with Rosberg just not getting as much as possible from the car. And as I said before, Massa is simply a disaster. He looks like he’s been broken by the pressure from the very beginning. It’s just painful to look at him and his driving.

    1. Pretty much that @cyclops_PL, if Lotus gets both cars qualifying where the car’s speed allows them and Ferrari get a tad better, the action will hugely improve. And if Merc manage to keep at least part of their speed for the race it might be superb.

      Massa – lets see, but it does not look like he has been able to do much to impress and stay on so far.

    2. I also agree, I was again a little disappointed about Rosberg’s race pace but on the other hand Schumi’s qualification performance and race pace was a pleasant surprise as I didn’t put much faith in him since he had come back.
      I think on more conventional tracks (with more grip) the Bulls may be quicker so there may still be a fascinating and tight fight for poles and wins. I also hope Mercedes and, especially, Lotus can up the pace they showed today so the leading Champions’ pack (Button, Vettel, Hamilton) will be chased by the other three, accompanied by Rosberg, Webber and occassionally Grosjean.
      And treading on their heels are hungry youngsters of nicely tightened midfield pack of Saubers, Williamses and Toro Rossos, though Senna and Force Indias are for me a bit of a question mark at the moment. At the back it looks like Caterhams will remain in their no-man’s land and Marussias and HRTs will provide usual lapping troubles. It’s also part of the game, isn’t it?
      It seems we’re in for another really great season, perhaps one of the best. Let’s hope so!

    3. I feel really sorry for Alonso. Even though I’m not a fan of him, I still rate him as one of the best drivers I’ve even seen in F1 (I’m 27).

      I hope Ferrari fix ASAP.

    4. I too would like to join with the impression that Rosberg needs brushing up his skills and adapting to the new Merc. MS might as well be ahead of him this season.

  5. Shall we call the win Schumacher-esque or Vettle-esque?

    1. Neither really. Button didn’t dominate as Vettel was a threat to his lead, it just didn’t come to anything in the end.

      1. It was quite clear button was controlling the pace and gap – masterful drive by Jenson

      2. Button didn’t dominate as Vettel was a threat to his lead, it just didn’t come to anything in the end.

        I must have missed that bit?

      3. Fastest lap at the end of the race suggested he had plenty of pace in hand. Up until the safety car he had a well controlled 12 seconds over Vettel in 3rd place. Vettel never looked like catching Button without a race extension of say 20 laps.

        Looked like he had it under control to me.

        1. Agreed, Button set quite a few fastest laps leading up to the end, and he pulled a lead both at the start and after the safety car. I don’t think anyone could really have troubled him ignoring things like car trouble or safety cars.

    2. I would say it was Vettel-esque, or if I would push it a little further, Prost-esque.

      1. Vettel made a habit out of it, so Vettel-esque is as also as far as Prost-esque.

        1. Works for me.

    3. Sound obvious but I’d call it Button-esque. He managed his tyres, maintained a gap and performed well in Australia like he usually does.

      1. Button-esque traditionally involves a damp track.

  6. I was amazed by both the Ferrari drivers’ performances.

    1. I was “amazed” by Felipe Massa’s performance too.

    2. sid_prasher (@)
      18th March 2012, 9:56

      I agree…they seemed to be driving for different teams! Sad to see Massa struggling so badly!

      1. there goes mass with his “thou shall not pass me” commandment. :-)

        1. Arijit (@arijitmaniac)
          19th March 2012, 8:43

          LOL! That was epic!! :)

    3. Great comment

    4. Yep it was night and day was night and day for Ferrari in Australia today.

    5. It’s strange how Massa had tyre problems, and Alonso didn’t – you can’t really blame Felipe if his car is horrible on its tyres and has no traction (as was frequently visible).

      1. Jack Flash (Aust)
        18th March 2012, 11:58

        it’s not stange really. Alonso and Massa have totally different driving styles, braking and corner entry/exit lines etc. Alonso’s style manages to make the Ferrari suck a little less, lap a great deal faster, and not chew thru rear tyres as fast as it could do… Massa the opposite. Sad to see such an incredible gulf between the ‘best driver on the grid’ Alonso and the shadow that now is Flip Massa 2011-12. (I’m no Alonso fanboi, but what he managed in that unruly, bucking, tail-happy Prancin’ horse today, is very impressive; and deserves the Cred for it) . JF

        1. I think that Ferrari has designed their car completely around Alonso’s driving style (but have not even done such a good job of that so far) , not taking a thing away from Alonso by saying that , as he is no doubt a brilliant driver , but it has also worked very much against Massa , whom I still don’t believe is a bad driver , he just needs a good car , and looks worse than average in a bad one.

      2. Strange, how so? He was horrible last season as well.

      3. sid_prasher (@)
        19th March 2012, 5:07

        @fixy:I liked the way Ferrari has come out in support of him and suggested that it was down to the poor balance of the car. Perhaps it would have been better if they had more dry running over the weekend. I wonder how difficult it is to find a good setup? Or is it that the Ferrari has a very small zone in which it works well…

  7. Brilliant opening race. Button cool as a cucumber, Vettel fortunate but kept Ham in sight without SC. Ham unlucky but must refocus. Alonso showed his class but I’ll be surprised to see Massa at Silverstone! Croft/Brundle excellent but rest of Sky show quite poor. What is Ant’s role – very under-used and Georgie and that touch screen is pointless. Looking forward to next week and BBC highlights with Jake, Ben and DC and then some sleep. F1 is back…

    1. but, but… her nodding is a vital part of the SKY coverage. @millsyboy

    2. schumi_the greatest
      18th March 2012, 13:20

      georgie thompson – what a female! she’s a vital part of the coverage

      1. Lee Mckenzie Is Better :) and cheaper :)

    3. I love the bits with Davidson anaylsing the incidents. For some reason Davidson has got haters, but I find him really funny + very technically minded. He pointed out some stuff I had missed during the race and qualifying.

      And well I think we all know what Georgie is there for, and I’m certainly not complaining =).

  8. Jenson drove a superb race, no question about that.
    Hamilton’s lack of pace was a bit puzzling. It had nothing to do with tyre wear like Coulthard was saying.
    Mclaren also didn’t use the undercut to get him a safer distance from the Bulls before the safety car.
    It is likely he could have defended a second position than try to get one.

    As I said on another post, Hamilton didn’t try to block Button unlike Vettel kis willing to do to his own team mate.

    Massa didn’t take long to find a buddy to play hanky panky with. Look at how he drove Senna off track. He might be need a psychologist soon.

    Williams sad missed opportunity. Maldonado can’t shake a fist at anyone or brake test Alonso next race. He was a victim of his own making.

    Sauber!!! Kobayashi!! Perez!!!. Great drive from that tean.

    Di Resta suddenly seemed to have a parachute stuck to the rear of his car. Force India was the letdown of the race.

    Caterham have only 2 more races to find theit TURBO button else they might finish 11th if Marussia lucks into a 14th place finishing position.

    Alonso a very stubborn dude. A very very top notch performance from him. He is a fantastic specimen.

    The Redbull kindergarten, well a toss of a coin was all it took. But Heimi or Buemi could have achieved an equal or better result.

    Mercedes still making lamb chops with their tyres but fast though. Of what use is speed without control.

    Great race.

    1. ‘Alonso a very stubborn dude. A very very top notch performance from him. He is a fantastic specimen.’

      I completely agree with you. Alonso makes miracles with whatever he is given. He is truly a great driver.

      1. the best in da grid… only he can giv 10 points from that ferrari 2012

      2. I do not like Alonso as a person, but even so I am amazed at how he handles even the poorest cars. That Ferrari was all over the place and Massa is showing what I think what it’s true pace should be Alonso, is easily outperforming the machinery.

    2. Massa didn’t take long to find a buddy to play hanky panky with.

      so funny and so true.

    3. @ Oliver your comment… on MaSsA (Massa didn’t take long to find a buddy to play hanky panky with) kept me laughing… :) it was hilarious… and I absolutely agree with you on Alonso.. he is a legend..

      1. For Massa It looks even more horrible in a bad car in the team that is supposed to be among the top.
        If Ferrari does get .400sec improvement over next several races and Massa underperforms, he’s history and Perez is the pefect subtitute.

        1. It’s ironic, years ago Massa was the daring young challenger in a Sauber. He moved up to Ferrari and did quite well, 11 victories and nearly a WDC. Now he is almost universally despised and laughed at by fans. It is an unfitting end for a driver who has greater reserves of dignity than many who finished ahead of him yesterday.

          I hope everyone will go a bit easier on Perez, who seems destined to take on Felipe’s unenviable role of playing second fiddle to Alonso in a Ferrari that seems stuck in the mire.

          1. That is extactly what crossed my mind when I saw him retire.F1 is a very tough business.

    4. Who else thought Maldanado did Grosjean on purpose like he did with Hamilton at Spa last year?
      He’s not very clean, and i am sure he knew the outcome when he did it….
      I don’t like that guy, he’s a moron!

  9. 1. Whohoo, the nicest car wins the first race!
    2. Good to see Vettel fight for track positions
    3. Great comeback performance from Raikkonen
    4. good race pace from both the Saubers and the Williams
    5. Fernando Alonso truly is a great driver
    6. too bad for Grosjean and Hulkenberg :-(
    7. what’s wrong with Massa and Maldonado

    1. I’m so happy the low nose of the McLaren has proved stepped noses aren’t necessarily better!

  10. Shame alot of people seem to lose the reality of an F1 race. It’s about 58 laps. Maldonado was pushing to the extreme to achieve his teams best results, if you asked him, I bet he’d say he was quicker than Alonso, who might been in average car and producing great results, but at the end it’s first over the line. Nico Roseberg deserved more, but problems left him limping, allowing other cars to pass him. The big question I have is way does the Mclaren struggle so much in dirty air? Lewis was obvious not getting the clear run that Jenson was therefore leaving him subject to a Redbull threat while Jenson had the clean air and ran away with the win? This season will be an interesting one> Props to Jenson, great drive, snatched from the start and you could tell how devastated Lewis was again beaten by Button.

    1. personally i think Lewis was more devastated by loosing 2nd when he never got passed on the track.
      Alonso drove the pants off that Ferrari, i am not a Alonso fan but i am willing to give credit where it is due.
      Schum just might of had his first podium, hope he manages one this season.
      great race i certainly enjoyed it, hope it carrys on like this.

    2. @funkyf1, I saw Alonso’s comments after the race and even he felt sorry for Maldonado and said he had really been struggling those last laps being pushed to the maximum before Maldonado lost the Williams there.

    3. Maldonado was very clearly faster than Alonso, lap after lap he was pushing him and trying to get close enough to pass.

  11. Great drive by Button, surprised Lewis was so disappointed – Yes he was on pole and should have won but take away the loss of time behind Perez and the pot luck of losing his place to Vettel because of the pace car and he probably would have maintained a 3 -4 second gap to Jenson albeit under pressure from Vettel, so overall a good race for him in terms of looking at the rest of the season. I guessed he was hoping to blow JB away and lay down a bit of a marker instead it’s JB who’s got the jump.

    Massa really is appalling, he spent all of last year saying Lewis needed a ban etc but really proved today that he refuses to yield in any situation even if it costs him his race, he’s always been hot headed, cooled down when he was team mate to Schumacher but since 2008 seems to have lost a degree of mind management as jackie Stewart would say.

    Here’s looking forward to a great season based on this weekend.

    1. @Matt.
      Last season, Mclaren brought Button in first then Hamilton a lap later, hence the gap went from 3.5+ seconds to 11. 3+ seconds.
      what they had to do was Pti Hamilton earlier net pit cycle, that way he will still be about 5 seconds behind Button but crucially several ahead of the Bulls.

      Mclaren were doing that a lot last season with Button, when he was a bit behind.

      But as I aways say, they seem to drop the ball when it comes to Hamilton.
      Before I am hounded, I don’t imply it was resposible for Button winning, Button drove a great race, I was happy with his drive. but the team could have protectd Lewis even wit the safety car, he would still be ahead of the Bulls.

      1. I agree – It is an interesting question, the “undercut” scenario seems to have left some teams at a loss how to handle the situation of evenly matched drivers and the potential gain / loss based on pitstop order. In the past it was simple the last one to blink usually benefited by pitting last. I think maybe Lewis needs to look at his tyre wear – is it as good as JB if it isn’t and he is behind JB him and his engineer need to have alternative strategies to cope. Lewis is the kind of driver who in my mind a bit like Schumacher can drive a series of sprints if required in order to make a strategy switch work, but unlike schumacher / brawn needs a bit more support from the pit wall to make those kind of calls. I think on pace today he wasn’t being dropped by Button, but didn’t have the flexibility strategy wise to find a different way to race him. I hope Lewis can add this to his armoury this year as if he does he could have a massively important season. If he doesn’t and just expects to beat JB every race on pace alone I think he may come unstuck and lose his cool.

      2. I think that Lewis’s pit was OK. His 3rd was more a factor of RB seizing the moment, a bit lucky on RB’s part but it worked. Ham’s attitude on the podium and in the press conference was a childish… it was embarrassing to watch.

      3. I think that Lewis’s pit was OK. His 3rd was more a factor of RB seizing the moment, a bit lucky on RB’s part but it worked. Ham’s attitude on the podium and in the press conference was childish… it was embarrassing to watch.

        1. Great comment Matt. I totally agree.
          Alex bkk – we’ve heard it all before. Childish and embarrassing??? Give it a rest. If a drivers unhappy about their race, I wanna hear about it. Many drivers would switch into PR mode.

          1. Then he should have said so, but what would he have said? Jenson was better than me… RB got the jump on me…. no he was like a child that missed his pudding. It was his race to lose, and he did. As for PR mode…. I’d rather have seen him angry and tossing the furniture around and yelling out every expletive under the sun than to see that wimpy bit of self pity. As far as “we’ve heard it all before” well you will continue to hear “childish and embarrassing” as long as Lewis acts that way.

          2. I agree with Alex Bkk. I didn’t want to mention it for fear of being attacked by Lewis fans. I was hoping Lewis was going to be a changed man, mentally this year. Sadly at the first race he seems to have the same petulant attitude. Sorry but it needs to be said.

        2. Im not bothered about drivers looking happy or miserable really. important stuff happens on track. in any case it comes to show their feelings so its high quality information for us. thats the way i see it anyway

      4. @OOliver, I think you are somehow insinuating that it’s Macca’s fault for Hamilton’s 3rd position. In truth, he had a terrible start, but then he was just unbelievably slow. Button pulled a 3 second gap on him before DRS was enabled. He then pulled ahead by 11 seconds! And at that point they realized they had under fueled both cars and asked him to save fuel, during which point Hamilton pulled back 2 seconds. But at no point did he seem to have the pace that Button was enjoying. Yes he may have avoided some traffic if they had pitted him first or double shuffled as they like to call it. But when leading the race, the leader always gets first dibs.

        Not to mention you couldn’t have predicted Vettel would have got an advantage because of the safety car. He was pretty damn lucky and I don’t think he was as fast as he believes, because he was clearly holding both Hamilton & Webber up until their tyres had cried and died.

        1. Forotherruns
          19th March 2012, 7:51

          What is with all the vitriol towards Hamilton? When Alonso almost shoved a marshal aside yesterday no one said anything. If that had been Hamilton, we would not have heard the end of it. You guys should please give it a rest. He is not happy about being beaten by whoever and he shows it. Plain and simple. Is there anything wrong with a driver showing his emotions? When he criticized the strategy in 2010, I’m sure you were one of those who came out to say that he was throwing his toys out of the pram and complaining.

          By the way, he did not loose 11 seconds to Button until after the pit stops when he lost almost 4 seconds on that last lap. Had the team brought him in first, he would have been close behind Button. I think McLaren needs to look at their strategy critically.

          Finally, please give it a rest. Hamilton is a human being with emotions. I know he can do no right in your eyes and in the eyes of so many others but give it a rest. He is one of the most talented drivers out there.

        2. @Le Jimster
          At no point in time did I mention the safety car.
          The team has since come out to say they were forced to start conserving fuel from very early on in the race.

          Regarding your statement about me implying Mclaren were responsible for Hamilton coming 3rd, I put it this way, no one expected the safety car at that time right?
          Now while the race was running and Massa, Rosberg and a few others had stopped, I was saying to myself, since the gap to Button was over 11 seconds, Mclaren should bring in Hamilton first, he uses the undercut to get about 5 seconds closer to Button, and about that same gap ahead of the cars behind him.
          What that means is that, he can run a more conservative race and maintain a steady pace, knowing that even if he is .5s a lap slower than Vettel and the chasing pack, it will take probably close to 10laps for them to get close enough to over take at the same time they use up their tyres trying to catch up.
          Hamilton can also increase his pace to defend his position and would not have used up his tyres trying to maintain or increase the gap to Vettel and those behind.

          The fact the safety car was deployed when it was, is immaterial. You can’t use the safety car deployment as the reason why Hamilton lost 3rd position. Because Hamilton and Vettel stopped at the very same time and were very close to each other at that point.

          So get it clear, Mclaren could have reduced the pressure on Hamilton from those behind by pitting him a lap earlier. The safety car was deployed after they had made their stops, so didn’t play any part in the decision they had made.
          One can also argue, based on the safety car deployment, that Mclaren’s fear was if they had stopped Hamilton earlier and they had a race interruption, like was experienced, and Button had not made his stop, then Button may have lost his lead to Hamilton.
          Perhaps that scenario was thought out by Mclaren which influenced their strategy.
          At the end of the day, no one knows what guided their decisions, but I believe their focus was more on getting the win, than a one -two.

          1. ***Correction

            The fact the safety car was deployed when it was, is immaterial. You can’t use the safety car deployment as the reason why Hamilton lost 3rd position. Because Hamilton and Vettel stopped at the very same time and were very close to each other at that point.

            I meant to say Vettel was already catching up with Hamilton and seemed to have a faster pace. The fact he got past him after he Vettel made his stop, may have been just academic, has he probably would have been able to overtake him on track.
            So the safety car is probably the obvious reason Vettel got past Hamilton, but he may have done so, without the safety car.

  12. Redbull still a very fast car, they just didn’t get qualifying right.
    They don’t have the 1+ second they had last season, but they are about par with Mclaren.
    The Mclaren just has a good single lap pace.

    1. I’d still say they’re a little off the pace of the Mclarens. The safety car did help Red Bull get closer to the Mclarens.

  13. On another note Ricciardo showed excellent understanding of what it takes to be a race driver to snatch points. Toro Rosso have made the right choice for this years campaign. In terms of Sky coverage, Croft is a joke! No idea, play the money and get DC or someone else… maybe B1 he’d do a better job,

  14. Super happy for JB. He is such a great character. Jensen has to listen to all the Lewis is faster than you and that he can only win when Hamilton has a mishap nonsense but he still behaves like a champion. Today Jensen beat Lewis and everyone else fairly and squarely, without any excuses about weather or mechanical mishaps or incidents. No one should question or devalue Jensens win today (though I am sure some will try).

    1. Button keeps surprising me race after race. I always liked Button but I never thought he would seriously challenge Hamilton. It’s still the first race of the season so we’ll have to wait to see how things progress but you really can’t take anything away from Button this race. He did as good a job with his car as Vettel did last year. I don’t see how anyone could have done any better.

      1. I couldn’t agree more. Button just seems to get better and more likeable all the time.

  15. Omg JB every time he wins with those fingers, so annoying /sarcasm

    Seriously, good win from the guy. I’m not a fan of his driving style and I don’t support him, but well-deserved.

    1. vettel : “the finger”
      button : “the thumb”

  16. We give control for selection of the lap to the car in front

    Does this automatically mean that the second driver has to pit later? If Button was planning on stopping on lap 17, then Hamilton could easily have come in from lap 14 onwards, as he should have. I think Keith’s race analysis (you will still do those this season, Keith?) will show that in the last 5 laps before his stop, Hamilton lost a lot of time, maybe as much as 6-8 seconds (so even without getting stuck behind Perez). I saw him do a 1m36 on lap 17, while drivers behind were still doing 1m33 (the pace at which Hamilton and Button had been running for the first 12 or so laps), and his inlap can’t have been much better.

    I was disappointed to see Hamilton so dejected after a faultless weekend and a useful podium (there were few enough of those last season). If he cannot get over the fact that Button can beat him on race pace, then this will be a difficult season for him.

    Mark Webber: I was happy to see him so quick, but he needs to iron out at least one of two weaknesses: his starts, and his inability to put a move together. I think Mark is a good wheel-to-wheel racer, and he should have the confidence to throw it up the inside (or outside, as his teammate demonstrated) from time to time.

    Kimi Raikkonen: He was fast at the end of his stints, and I think the safety car prevented him from taking more advantage from his lower tyre wear.

    Michael Schumacher: too bad he ran into trouble; I think he would have managed his tyres better than Rosberg. On the other hand, some attrition now is a good thing, otherwise it’s always the same people in the points.

    Maldonado: Although I’m indifferent to Maldonado as a driver, I am absolutely gutted for Williams. This was an excellent opportunity to put the disastrous 2011 behind them. Athough the car is competitive, so are many others, and it’s by no means a certainty that any P6 finishes will come Williams’s way soon.

    1. Yeah agree on Hamy’s dejection after the race. A championship winning McLaren with Button on top might mean the end of the harmonious Hamilton/Button relationship…

    2. I don’t think Mclaren totally stick to that leader pits first strategy.
      They alter it when it is convenient as they did so many times last season.

      1. Forotherruns
        19th March 2012, 8:03

        They only alter it to suit Button not Hamilton. Just check to see. This is not to say that they favour Button but I think Hamilton’s race engineer is not experienced and assertive enough. On the other hand……..

    3. Drop Valencia
      18th March 2012, 12:30

      Webbers starts are shocking, his moves are fine, did you see compromise Rosberg onto the escape? That was brave sitting in there!

      1. Yes, and if you leave out the 1st. lap Webber drove a faster race than Vettel ( from what I saw, need to analyse lap times to be sure), Webber needs to be sent to the drag strip with an old RBR car to practice at every opportunity. How hard can it be ?

    4. I think Michael Schumacher could be in 4th or 5th

    5. Mclaren destroyed Hamilton’s race on the first pit stop e he knows it. Flawless drive by Jenson but the team assured that no fight on the track would be allowed with the pit strategy. Hamilton knows that and if you look to what happened just before the podium you could see that the relationship between LH and JB will not be so harmonious like the years before. Lewis barely talked do Jenson, and barely looked at his face. It’s too early in the season to say that but I start to doubt Lewis will continue in Mclaren next season.

  17. Firstly congratulations to JB and the McLaren team, anybody know when Glock was lapped after the SC? He could’ve been close to a P12 today.

  18. Loved how Button bet Hamy from the dirty side of the start :) Vettel stated that even though they didnt qualify that well their race pace was going to be good…

  19. Button owns Albert Park. Great start to the season in general

  20. A little off topic, but can I just say Kieth how much I enjoy this site, I hope that although you are having to scale back your commitment to the site that you’ll still maintain the enthusiasm and informative nature of it. I live in Australia and it’s slim pickings over here for F1 so I find F1 fanatic a real boon.

    We get Sky commentary feed over here, am I right in thinking Croft used to be a radio commentator or used to do touring cars? His approach seemed a bit OTT especially compared to DC and MB last year who seemed to have built a good rapport.On the other hand it was a pretty gripping race so maybe his excitement was justified but it would be nice if him and MB can strike a balance as MB’s insights are informative and amusing, he seemed to get talked over a bit today.

    1. Thanks Matt!

    2. seconded on all points, croft would constantly create his own wild fantastic theorys only to be shot down by brundle. great site keith!

    3. Well this year MB is only the expert not the main commentator as he was last year at the BBC, therefore it’s obvious that Croft talks most of the time. And I personally like it more than Brundle along Coulthard, as I also liked the late ITV combination.

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