Jenson Button got the better of his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in an entertaining season opening grand prix at Albert Park, Melbourne in Australia but who was your driver of the day?
Began the weekend strongly, topping the times in first practice on Friday. Focused on setting the car up for the race in the next two practice sessions but still delivered an impressive lap in qualifying to make the front row alongside McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Made a good getaway to pass Hamilton into the first corner and then built a comfortable gap at the head of the field. Left the field trailing at the restart after the safety car and controlled the race from then on to secure his third victory in four years at Albert Park.
Made a mistake in Friday practice, spinning his Red Bull into the gravel and losing vital set-up time. Looked downbeat after qualifying sixth, one spot behind his team-mate Mark Webber, after a scrappy lap on his final run. Made up for that performance with a strong start, passing Webber and then gaining places when Michael Schumacher and Romain Grosjean had their retirements. Kept pace with the leaders and then benefitted from the safety car to leapfrog Hamilton into second, where he stayed for the rest of the race.
Struggled to hide his disappointment during Friday practice when the Ferrari was well off the pace. Qualifying didn’t get much better as he spun off in Q2 to start the race from 12th. The car looked stronger in race, with the Spaniard scything his way through the field. He was up to eighth by lap. Struggled to make the tyres last but got everything he could out of the car and did well to finish fifth.
Showed good pace in Friday practice and even finished fastest of all in Q1, but failed to replicate the form and qualified a modest 13th. Avoided Bruno Senna’s spinning Willams at the start, but was hit by team-mate Sergio Perez which damaged his rear wing. Lost out when the safety car came out, but pulled off some good overtaking moves, including one round the outside of Kimi Raikkonen, to rise to ninth. That was improved to sixth when he benefitted from Pastor Maldonado’s crash and then took advantage of a squabbling Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez.
A miscommunication with the team in qualifying meant he failed to make Q2 and started the race 18th. But the Finn’s race was much stronger and he showed that he has lost none of his race-craft skills with some impressive wheel-to-wheel racing. He was up to eighth by lap 14 and then put a stellar move on Kobayashi around the outside of Turn 4. Looked set for 10th place, but Maldonado’s crash on the last lap caused havoc behind him, allowing Raikkonen to benefit and finish seventh.
Had a disappointing qualifying session which saw him finish 17th fastest but a gearbox change relegated him five places to 22nd – which was effectively last as the HRTs failed to qualify. Damaged his front wing when he touched team-mate Kobayashi at the start but managed to drive around the problem. Made a one-stop strategy work, which involved him completing a mammoth 34 laps on the soft tyre. Clashed with Nico Rosberg at the end, but held on to salvage eighth.
Produced one of his best ever qualifying performances to finish seventh fastest and then transferred that form into race pace on Sunday. Put a good move on Romain Grosjean in the early laps and then looked set for sixth place – a points haul which would have bettered Williams’ total for the whole of 2011 – however a mistake on the last lap saw him crash into the wall. Nonetheless, it was a strong performance for both driver and team.