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Button gambles and wins thrilling Australian GP
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Button gambles and wins thrilling Australian GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Mar 2010   |  9:32 am GMT  |  367 comments

Jenson Button won the Australian Grand Prix for the second year in a row, leading home Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa. The game changing moment for Button was an early gamble he made to opt for dry tyres on a damp track.

Two Australian GP wins for Button (Darren Heath)


The race had everything Bahrain did not; lots of overtaking and drama, suggesting that mechanical grip, rather than aerodynamics is the real problem with F1 in dry conditions.

The start was chaotic; rain fell on the grid and everyone opted to run the intermediate rain tyres. On a greasy track, Fernando Alonso got away slowly from third on the grid and was passed by Massa. Alonso tagged Jenson Button into turn 1, which spun the Spaniard around and into Michael Schumacher, breaking his front wing. The incident dropped Alonso down to 22nd place.

Vettel led them away, with Massa into second ahead of Mark Webber, with Kubica fourth, Rosberg fifth and Button sixth. But the safety car was deployed lap 1 for a nasty crash between Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg.

The safety car was out for five laps and at the restart Button pitted for dry tyres. He went off on his first lap, but it turned out to be the right move and it took him up to second place and he was soon the fastest car on the track, which led to a mass rush to the pits for most drivers.

Red Bull left both cars out, pitting Vettel a lap later. This delay cost Webber massively, as he was on the wrong tyre for three laps and when he rejoined after his stop on lap 9 he was in sixth place.

Red Bull should have pitted one of their cars on lap 7, when most people came in. Operationally the team made costly mistakes last season and they did it again here, they were lucky that Button went off track on slicks, otherwise he would have taken the lead from Vettel with his early pit stop gamble.

Everyone fitted the soft tyre at the stops and most were hoping to make it to the finish on them, which required them to be careful on the tyres. In the end it paid off for the front four cars.

Vettel led from Button, Kubica and Rosberg, while Webber passed Massa but then went off track defending from Hamilton.

At this stage of the race, Alonso and Webber were consistently the fastest drivers in the field. Webber passed Alonso after the Ferrari driver was caught up in the aftermath of a pass by Hamilton on Massa.

While all this overtaking was going on, it was strange to see Michael Schumacher was struggling to get past Jaime Alguersuari.

The race changed on lap 26 when Sebastian Vettel went off the track after a brake failure, meanwhile Lewis Hamilton pulled off an astonishing pass on Rosberg around the outside of Turn 11.

The tyres started graining around lap 30 on some cars. Schumacher pitted for new tyres as did Webber as everyone waited to see when the others might stop. Hamilton pitted for a new set of tyres at the very moment Button set the fastest lap up to that point of the race, despite having the oldest tyres of anyone, illustrating that his smoothness was paying dividends.

But Hamilton was soon lapping 2 seconds a lap faster and Button had to decide how long to stay out before pitting for a second set of tyres or whether to gamble on staying out and trying to make the tyres last to the end. He chose to stay out.

Kubica and the Ferraris took the same gamble. In the closing stages as their tyres struggled, they were caught by Hamilton and Webber, but the pair collided as Hamilton came up behind Alonso.

Button went to McLaren partly to prove that his world championship win last season was not solely because he had the fastest car. He certainly proved today that his legendary smoothness and his instinct for making the right choices at key moments are also important reasons why he’s a winner.

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps

1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h33:36.531
2. Kubica Renault + 12.034
3. Massa Ferrari + 14.488
4. Alonso Ferrari + 16.304
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 16.683
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 29.898
7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 59.847
8. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:00.536
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 1:07.319
10. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:09.391
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:11.301
12. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 1:14.084
13. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
14. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps

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1

Buttons showing us all , he is the real deal, body and mind as one ……

2

May not be relevant as red bull have said vettel had a wheel problem but noiticed during parc ferme red bull changed weber’s front brake drum outer foam seals.

3

I wonder if Button’s British-ness means we forget he punted Alonso into Schuey? Certainly, as usual James, we know we can count on you to ignore Button’s dodgy behavior at the start. I must admit I am a Schuey fan and was angered at watching his race ruined by these antics. He drove a good, not great race, with a damaged car.

4

Button did NOT punt Alonso, it was in fact Alonso making contact with Button when the latter had the corner.

Even the likes of Martin Brundle stated that this was 100% not Button’s fault.

I re-watched the GP again and found Button to not have made that contact.

5

James thank you for a site which not only offers accurate expert reporting but also seems to attract readers who are intelligent and articulate. There are so many F1 sites which attract comments from those who cannot a. spell nor b. put a sentence together.

Keep up the good work.

I particularly like your techno report

6
Carlos E. Del Valle

Last year, in the Italian GP at Monza, Hamilton was leapfrogged by the Brawns, because he made two stops and they did one. At that time, to my surprise, he told the press that the decision between one or two stops was made by the engineers, with little input from him. That sounded very bad to me.

7
Christian Hepworth

We don’t know the whole picture in terms of Lewis ‘not questioning’ the team descision to pit him. I personally still think Lewis would have won if he’d have passed Kubica, but I’d love to hear the radio between him and the team leading up to his second pit stop. What did the team actually say to him to convice him that pitting was the right option.

One thing to remember is that if we’d heard Lewis refusing to stop after the advice of the team and then others doing so and him going backwards, then a lot of people would probably by lambasting him for not being a team player and doing what he wanted to do rather than listening to the team and thinking about the bigger picture.

James is it possible to access the radio transcripts from the race?

8

I think Schumacher needs time to build up his confidence, im not suggesting that its low, im suggesting that its not high, i think he lacked his killer instinct and just seemed a bit tentative which will come back with his confidence. I think he was overtaking cars and working his way up through the field until it stopped raining and everyone went in for slicks, after that i’m not sure what happened, he seemed to be taking his time and playing it safe.

I was thinking he needed a few races, but now i’m thinking it may even take him up to half a season to get up to speed.

Even when Michael Jordan a basketball legend came back from retirement he was a little all over the place, but he then got up to speed and played even better. Its just the way the human body works, you need time to build up/regain your muscle memory, doesnt matter who you are.

Vic

9

James – what was your take on Schumacher’s performance at the weekend?

I haven’t heard if he was carrying any technical issues after his first corner dramas.

Was his performance down to a little bit of rustyness or a gremlin in his Merc?

10

there seems to be a large split here between people who want to increase overtaking by changes to the aero rules and those who want to do it by changes to the mechanical grip levels.

couldn’t we just do both, as there really isn’t a downside?

(i’d go for manual gearboxes and more punitive run-off areas myself but that’s a side issue…)

11

Fantastic race even if it was a bit artificial because of the rain.

The fact that Lewis couldn’t get past Alonso even though he was closing up behind Nando at 2 secs a lap and the fact that Schumacher made such a dogs dinner out of getting past Jaime for so many laps shows that there are still fundamental problems that are facing F1 in terms of the technology with regards more overtaking

Great race but after the snooze fest of Bahrain I don’t think a great race means all is hunky dory again with F1

12

They should wet all the tracks for the upcoming races so we can continue to have this excitement.

13

Highlight for me

Engineer: ‘ hamilton is 3 secs behind’

Alsono: ‘ i don’t want to know!’

Alonso is the boss, from last to fourth, loved Hamiltons crazy drive, Buttons silky win and Kubica punching above his cars weight.Stunning race

I can’t believe Massa held it together for 3rd though, he was all over the shop!

14

Great race.

A deserved victory for Button,I agree with what you say James on the other article but for me THE driver of the GP was Alonso,after the SC only Schumacher was behind him and without mistakes he climbed all the way up.

I went over few websites and it seems that nobody payed attention to him,very little is said about his race.

15

After watching Hamilton/Webber crash few more times, it seems that it was actually Hamilton who caused the mess.

He already choose to go around Alonso on the outside, but when he realized Alonso outbraked him, he tried to get back on the inside and there went straight into Webber’s path.

When Webber saw what was about to happen he tried to go to the right but Hamilton kept closing to the apex too, and the crash was inevitable.

16

Webber was censured after the race by the race stewards, which now include a racer.

Webber apologised to Lewis after the race.

’nuff said.

17

Agree with you Brace 100%; good observation!

I noticed that as well having watched the full GP again late last night.

I’m most shocked about Schumi’s failure to get past Alguersari for so long. All credit to Jamie for keeping a 7 time World Champion behind him for so long.

The tv footage really didn’t show if Schumi forced his way past or whether Jamie made a mistake.

Like many others I would like to see MS back to his best, just so we can see how he rates against the current quick boys, but beating his team-mate should be a good start.

His comments on ITV F1 website, see http://www.itv-f1.com/news_article.aspx?id=48079 I found quite surprising. Especially his claim that but for his tangle with Alonso he could have been on the podium…

If Alonso couldn’t manage it and he overtook so many in his efforts to reach the front I’m not sure how MS thought he would make that leap when he was stuck behind the Torro Rosso for soooooooooooooooo long!!!

Comments anyone, James?!

18

What Schumacher was trying to get at is that if he hadn’t been tapped off the road at the first corner he would have been in a similar position to which Kubica found himself in and therefore in a better chance for the podium than most drivers.

Remember that Alonso had a bad start and was falling back. And Button also had a bad start and was falling back. Schumy had a good start and was right up there when he got run off the road.

19

I fully understand where you’re coming from A.K.

Racing accidents happen as we all know and HOW a driver deals with that subsequently if often very interesting when so far out of position.

However, my point is that Schumi (of whom I’m a big fan..) was not able to make his way up through the field in the same way Alonso did.

I can’t imagine Alonso being stuck being JA for that long…

20

Ignoring the fact that Webber was going too fast? Racing incident. Leave it alone.

21

Lewis Lewis Lewis….everyone talking about Lewis as if he was the only one on the track. The way some talk about him, you’d think the reason it rained in Melbourne was because the seat of Lewis’ car kept the sun from shining out his a**e.

22

It’s a British Site. Of course we’ll want to talk about ‘our drivers’. Deal with it

I for one want to see Brits win. Personally, I cheer for both Lewis and Jenson, and I’ll cheer for any other British driver who enters F1. The intra-team battle between Lewis and Jenson is starting to get very fascinating. I don’t really mind who wins, but I hope that it will be close right to the end of the season.

If you want an Alonso-centric site, then try the Spanish websites. If you want to read about Vettel, Rosberg and Schumacher, check out the German media. It’s human nature to cheer for your countrymen – it’s just another manifestation of patriotism, which is OK (in small doses)

Jeff

23

You missed the point of my satire. I wasn’t lampooning British fans, fans of their countrymen, or even Hamilton himself for that matter. He’s a good driver and so has earned his fans. My comments were directed at those who think he can do no wrong, and that even in losing to countryman and teammate Button, that he somehow got the moral victory. If you are also a fan of Button, surely you must find it a bit diconcerting that many of Lewis’ fans cannot bring themselves to admit their boy was roundly beaten, which is especially impressive since it was by someone who had widely been predicted was going to get beaten by Hamilton, but instead won in only his second race with a team where Hamilton is the incumbent golden boy.

24

Jenson beat Lewis in qualifying, so score one to Jenson.

He was passed by Lewis in the race as he struggled to master the intermediates, so score one to Lewis.

Jenson took a calculated risk after being passed by Lewis (or gamble, if you prefer), and it paid off, so he’s a hero, therefore score the big one of the weekend to Jenson.

Had it gone against him, all the fanboys and all the people who’ve been crowing that he only won because he had the best car would be unfairly slagging him off once more as a lucky journeyman.

I also consider Barichello to be a great driver, and have done ever since his first season at Jordan. This is a man who ran Michael close, even though he was a contracted #2 and not allowed to beat Ferrari’s ‘incumbent golden boy’. He was no pushover at Brawn, and Jenson beat him fairly.

I happen to think that both Lewis and Jenson are great drivers, but only one got the early career luck. Lewis had an off weekend in Australia, made worse by some ill-advised of-track antics, bad luck, bad tactical decisions, and some silly driving by Webber. That doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the most entertaining drivers to watch, and one of the best passers on the F1 circuit today.

Conversely, Jenson had a bad weekend in Bahrain, qualifying significantly slower than Lewis.

I predict (and hope) that the points between Lewis and Jenson will be very close at the end of the season, proving to all the fanboys that we have two great British drivers on the 2010 F1 circuit, not just one.

Let’s leave the ‘Roundly beaten’ descriptions off the table for now. We’re 2 races into a long season, and the rotund female is a long way from stretching her vocal chords yet.

25

Great rece. Congratulations Jenson, Lewis thanks for make me feel a real F1 sport!!!

Great driver

26

As I said after the first race of 2010,if we held it again we would get a different result(probably Massa)and if you need excitement so bad,then go watch movies or television where there will be a fairytale ending calculated to make you come back with more money soon.

It’s possible we are in store for some more boring races-“why can’t every race be like Australia?”

So,I must also repeat that the summer will be an outstanding one,one for the books.After Monza,even better.Please be patient,this is Formula One-not anything less.

27

Terrific race and the funny thing is that Albert Park has never been an easy track to pass on. Great job by Jenson – I think he shows how a little serenity and some excellent control go a long way in F1. I feel sorry for Red Bull. They clearly have the quickest car but they have almost nothing to show for it after two races. I also think Kubica and the Renault were very good – if you look at his laptimes his car was very competitive and they seem to have the starts nailed. I cant wait for Silverstone for which I have tickets – I dont care if I have to snorkel in to the track.

28

Speed (in the Red Bull) may have been found at the expense of reliability and, as they used to say, before you can win, you have to finish.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if “Renault” slip back, through the season, given that they are not really a works team anymore.

Good luck at Silverstone, I hope the new track proves to be good!

29

what a contrast to the race in Bahrain, so much drama. Forget all the technical modifications, I think F1 would be more interesting if people just heap the track with buckets of water before the race lights go out every weekend.

30

Yes but the track was dry from about 15 laps in, so explain all the passing after that…

31

Come on! Had there not been any rain, then the race would have been boring again! look, Hamilton could not overtake alonso – alonso could not overtake Massa, Massa the same with Kubica, Schey couldn’t overtake a Torro Rosso!!! I mean come on…. the dirty air of the back of them cars is screwing up overtaking and we all know it…!

32

The track was not totally dry at that stage but there is something in what you say. I would say this has to be something to do with still having wet / moist areas (it was still lightly raining at that point).

What is indisputable, that at the end of the race when the track was dry, same old problem all over again. Lewis comes up behind Alonso with pace to burn and can do nothing in the dirty air. Even such that following closely in that dirty air causes the car to grain it’s tyres in next to no time. You only had to look at the onboards of Alonso or Hamilton to see that Alonso’s tyres were not producing much grip, but Hamilton could not take advantage.

33

Most of the passing was due to different levels of tyre wear or the heat in the tyres on the cars at various stages.

(btw was there really all that much overtaking in the last part of the race except for the ding-dong battles between Hamilton and Webber and whoever happened to be in their way on their fresh tyre charge?)

34

Wrong,the track wasn’t dry from about 15 laps in – there was just thin dry line, that’s why Hamilton and Massa couldn’t get pass Kubica

35

the dry racing lines and wet areas on the surface of the track, so whoever falls of the track doesn’t get as much grip, etc. etc.

(i can’t believe i’m refuting a comment by James Allen, by the way)

36

You’re right Linda – also, the scene had been set by the rain, which was the cause for front runners ‘out of place’, strange and unusual tyre strategies, etc.

37

Brilliant stuff, assisted by the weather and having a couple of top guys drop to the back at the first corner.

I’m convinced that all we need to see this more often is that ‘rpm boost’ button. It would compensate for the understeer effect on a corner before a straight, and allow the driver behind top push back into the slipstream.

KERS only failed because not everyone had it. For the start of the European season – bring in the boost button!

38

What an inspired drive by Button! It was a champion’s drive. Balanced with a lot of guts.

What a dramatic race: I loved the on track fighting! Thank you Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Rosberg & Webber! Owmygod, I forgot to have breakfast!

Schumi didn’t make any mistakes but it seems he needs more confidence in (read: risk taking with) the car. I expect him joining the battlers when F1 returns to Europe. He is doing a solid job so far.

Drive of the day: Button

Driver of the day: Hamilton

Honorable mention: Alonso

39

worth getting up at 6am for.

i still hope there’s an effort to improve overtaking as we won’t always get rain to liven things up.

good piece of editorial on PF1 here which i mostly agree with tbh.

http://www.planetf1.com/race-features/6059194/Conclusions-From-Australia

40

What I dont get about Hamilton’s radio comment badgering the team is this: Arent the radio transmissions first reviewed by the team who decide whether to release them on air..or not? This was what I understood from the SpeedTv commentators last year.

If this is the case, its all clever PR and the media and fans are right where they (Mclaren) want them…stirred up but INTERESTED.

Just a thought.

41

The team don’t decide, it’s the TV producers.

42

Fab race. I think two things were pretty clear today.

1. Hamilton, although undeniably quick in a Kimi’esque sense it terms of sheer 1 lap pace, doesn’t appear to have the cerebral, strategic sense, to think about race strategy, whilst putting in the quick laps. For example during the race I note that Alonso asked his engineer, “why is everyone stopping”? He and Schumi are probably the best two examples of drivers capable of driving on the limit, whilst keeping enough spare cerebral capacity to think about the race, what others are doing and why.

For example I assume that Lewis didn’t question his engineer’s direction to pit for tyres, whereas perhaps someone like Alonso would have (and we saw that Button pro actively dictated his stop). Lewis is still young in terms of F1, he may develop the smarts to go with the speed, but he is far from the finished article yet, which would take him to the pantheon of F1 greats.

2. Overtake. Sorry to bang on about this, but clearly the problem is aero. When a driver on fresher tyres, who had been putting in laps at 1.5 – 2.0secs quicker suddenly is stopped in his progress, then frankly it makes all other theories as to the lack of overtaking as redundant. There was a marked difference in tyre degradation, as one driver was on newer tyres. I can’t see aero ever being taken away from F1. I was opposed to this at first, but I quite like Bernie’s suggestion of short cuts. Think about it. Each driver can take a short cut 3 times in a GP, that’s it. It would lead to some strategic decisions as to when to take the short cut, and if so, would the overtaken driver do so the following lap, to take their position back? Would everyone take the short cut on the first lap? It would lead to some v interesting strategic decisions, frankly not that different to the old refuelling machinations that many people want reintroduced. It is the only practicable solution and I think it would work.

43

fantastic job from alonso.

it is just funing that hamilton with 2 sec faster than alonso couldn`t overtake him.

forza alonso.

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