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Melbourne produces an F1 classic

Jenson Button celebrates Australian Grand Prix win

Highlights - Button wins Australian Grand Prix (UK users only)

Martin Brundle
By Martin Brundle
BBC F1 analyst

The Australian Grand Prix was the 'perfect storm' in many respects; a calamitous wet start, the inevitable safety-car and an early drying track all generating dilemmas over tyre strategy, and incidents galore.

It was one of the great races, there was action wherever you looked, but it did need that set of circumstances to play out so brilliantly.

It was day for gambling, and McLaren rolled the dice twice with markedly different results.

Jenson Button took a risky but ultimately race-winning decision when he pitted first for slick tyres. Later on in the race, Lewis Hamilton was called in for a second stop when he was hustling second-placed Robert Kubica.

One was a driver judgement call on whether the track was dry enough or not, and the other was a team strategy call.

The engineers cannot tell the driver when it is time to change tyres, unless some of the field have already pitted and they start seeing fastest sectors lighting up, which is what happened after Button's stop.

Button told the BBC afterwards that he came in because his intermediate tyres had gone off, and he denied it was because Hamilton had just blown past him for sixth.

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I think there was an element of 'I'm going backwards so I may as well just go for it.'

His decision backs up everything we already know about Button; his feel for the car is just exquisite and he's brilliant at finding the grip in half-wet, half-dry conditions as his first F1 victory at the Hungaroring in 2006 proved.

Starting to regularly win races and the accomplishment of winning last year's championship has given him an inner and steely confidence.

It was a brave move by Button and he feared it was a mistake, saying he initially thought it was a 'catastrophic' call. The gamble paid off with his first win for McLaren.

I can fully understand why McLaren thought they should bring Hamilton in later in the race.

They probably thought he was getting tucked up behind Robert Kubica and that if they pulled him in he would find some speed and leapfrog the Pole, who did a brilliant job for Renault.

That strategy would have been fine if the others frontrunners all pitted too, but things didn't work out like that.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and of course McLaren wouldn't have done it if they had known. They certainly didn't do it so they could lose a podium and valuable points!

It was a mistake, as it turns out, but Hamilton needs to chill a little on that one.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton frustrated by 'wrong' strategy

If the team had left Hamilton out, would he have passed Kubica at some point? I think he would have because of his superior straightline speed. Would his tyres have lasted to the flag? Who knows but judging by Button's consistent pace then probably 'yes'.

My driver of the day is Hamilton. It was a stunning drive by the 25-year-old; his late braking overtaking, pure aggression around the outside of Nico Rosberg at 150mph and raw speed.

Mark Webber was a bit clumsy when he first took Hamilton wide at turn three and finally into the gravel late on, costing them both places. Webber had the decency to admit fault.

In spite of that, it was still one of Hamilton's best drives and he got some good points with sixth.

We will never know if Button could have won without Sebastian Vettel's front wheel issue. Vettel was unlikely to make a mistake and who knows if the Red Bull would have started to overwork its tyres.

He was pulling away from Button and even if the McLaren's tyres lasted better he would have been hard pressed to overtake.

I don't know why Red Bull were so cautious about bringing their two drivers in to change to slick dry tyres. As soon as Button popped in two red sectors on his first flying lap after his stop, three-quarters of the grid came in; it was a no-brainer.

Webber was two laps too late and that put him back into the combat zone with a dangerous outcome.

Red Bull have the fastest car on the grid - Vettel and Webber had locked out the front row - and it looked like Vettel's race to me, unless they panicked into a second stop like both Mercedes and Hamilton.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel

Vettel worried about Red Bull reliability

Vettel has a happy, smiley face but he is a tough one and I bet he's thumping the desk behind closed doors.

The odd thing is that it's only Vettel's car having these varying problem. With Malaysia next weekend and China following on, it's going to be hard for the team to fix reliability problems on the road.

After races in Bahrain and Australia, Vettel should be sitting on the plane with 50 points. He could have been world champion last year and he cannot afford to throw away 38 points. But it's worse than that because his point losses give extra points to his rivals.

Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso started the race facing in the wrong direction as early as turn one, but then impressively moved through the field until he found himself on the gearbox of team mate Felipe Massa.

If Ferrari had moved them around, I believe Alonso would have finished second in the race and that he was also quick enough to apply pressure to Button.

Now I hate team orders as such but Massa was struggling so much that I certainly would have swapped them around so that Alonso could at least have had a run at Kubica. If he failed then move Massa back in front.

What goes around comes around and we may well see the opposite situation later in the year when Massa is faster, and Ferrari will need every point they can earn in order to beat Red Bull and McLaren.

We had some excitement in Melbourne but when Hamilton is closing on the Ferraris at a rate of 2-2.5sec per lap and then struggles to pass there are still some very fundamental concerns about overtaking that are yet to be resolved.



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Australian Grand Prix

RaceLast updated: 15 Nov 2012 12:34 UK
Position Country Driver Race Time
1 great britain J Button 1:33:36.531
2 poland R Kubica 1:33:48.565
3 brazil F Massa 1:33:51.019
4 spain F Alonso 1:33:52.835
5 germany N Rosberg 1:33:53.214
6 great britain L Hamilton 1:34:06.520
7 italy V Liuzzi 1:34:36.378
8 brazil R Barrichello 1:34:37.067
9 australia M Webber 1:34:43.850
10 germany M Schumacher 1:34:45.922

see also
Button wins dramatic Australia GP
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Button revels in Aussie victory
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton blames team for strategy
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso happy with battling fourth
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel admits reliability worries
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher enjoyed 'fun' race
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Chandhok pleased after finishing race
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Australian GP as it happened
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix photos
28 Mar 10 |  Formula 1


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