Nico Rosberg
2016 Formula 1 World Champion
Bragging rights at McLaren go to Button after dramatic season opener
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Mar 2012   |  11:14 am GMT  |  418 comments

Jenson Button won an dramatic Australian Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton dropping from pole position to third at the flag. Hamilton was disconsolate afterwards, while Button was delighted having won the bragging rights within the team at the outset of the season.

It was Button’s 13th career victory and his third here in Melbourne and it was all done at the first corner, where he dived down the inside of Hamilton to take the lead. He managed to survive a late safety car, which cut his 10 second lead to nothing, while Vettel and Red Bull took the opportunity to pit for the second stop and rejoin ahead of Hamilton.

Vettel was more than satisfied with the result, after a difficult weekend in which the revised version of the Red Bull had proved tricky to handle and vulnerable on the straights.

Mercedes’s race pace was disappointing, while Ferrari’s was better than expected, at least in the hands of Fernando Alonso, who finished fifth behind Mark Webber, whose fourth is the best ever result for an Australian in his home Grand Prix.

Meanwhile there was heartbreak for Pastor Maldonado, who was running sixth half a lap from scoring Williams’ best result in two years when he crashed into a wall. This provoked a reshuffle of the order behind, with Kamui Kobayashi jumping up to sixth place from ninth on the final lap.

Button made a clean start to pass Lewis Hamilton into turn one and controlled the race from then on, setting the fastest lap in the process. Both Romain Grosjean, who qualified a brilliant third and Mark Webber made slow getaways, allowing the Mercedes’ of Michael Schumacher and a fast starting Nico Rosberg to fill in behind the McLarens. There was trouble in the midfield as Daniel Ricciardo and Bruno Senna came together, resulting in the Brazilian spinning at the first corner. Nico Hulkenberg was the first retirement of the race, quickly followed by Romain Grosjean who had his suspension broke by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado as the Venezuelan lunged up the inside at Turn 13.

As the two McLarens pulled away Vettel made a great move on Nico Rosberg and set off in pursuit of Schumacher who ran wide at Turn One and promptly retired at the end of Lap 11 with a gearbox problem.

After the first set of pitstops Hamilton dropped back in behind Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, who was the only driver in the top ten to one-stop today. This slowed Hamilton down, allowing Vettel to close the gap to second. Alonso made a good start and began to pursue the podium places as Ferrari’s race pace proved to be much more promising than their qualifying times. However, the same could not be said for Felipe Massa who spent much of the race battling with Kamui Kobayashi and Kimi Raikkonen and the Brazilian’s race finally came to an end following a collision with his compatriot Bruno Senna. Senna had a difficult weekend compared to his team mate, with Maldonado qualifying 8th and putting in a very impressive performance and proving a threat to Alonso, Webber and Rosberg before a heavy crash on the final lap ruled him out of his highest Formula One finish to date.

Button was able to hold a ten second lead over Hamilton, despite vibration from his second set of tyres. The race was order was looking stable until, during the second pitstop phase of the Grand Prix, the Caterham of Vitaly Petrov stopped on the inside of the pit straight resulting in a Safety Car. Fortunately for Vettel he was close to the pits and reacted quicly to make his stop and return to the track ahead of Hamilton, who had come in with Button just before the Safety Car was deployed.

At the restart Button quickly opened up a three second gap over Vettel on the first lap and left his pursuers in his wake. Webber had also gained a position over Alonso during the Safety Car period and the Australian made the battle for second into a three-way race. Alonso spent the remainder of the race holding off Maldonado for fifth position, which ended successfully following the Williams drivers lack of concentration on the final lap. This pushed Kobayashi, Raikkonen and Perez up into 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Further back there was a tremendous scrap for the last points as Rosberg dropped back on the final lap, slowing down Jean-Eric Vergne in the process which allowed his Toro Rosso team-mate and the Force India of Paul Di Resta to grab the final points.

Further back Marussia’s Timo Glock was 14th, the former Virgin team’s best result in F1 to date in a car which had not tested before the first race.

(Additional reporting: Matt Meadows)

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 Laps
1. Button McLaren 1h34:09.565
2. Vettel Red Bull + 2.139
3. Hamilton McLaren + 4.075
4. Webber Red Bull + 4.547
5. Alonso Ferrari + 21.565
6. Kobayashi Sauber + 36.766
7. Raikkonen Lotus + 38.014
8. Perez Sauber + 39.458
9. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 39.556
10. Di Resta Force India + 39.737
11. Vergne Toro Rosso + 39.848
12. Rosberg Mercedes + 57.642
13. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
14. Glock Marussia + 1 lap
15. Pic Marussia + 2 laps
16. Senna Williams + 4 laps

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418 comments

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1

James.

Thanks a lot for great coverage today on BBC5 live radio.

Was very surprised by the accuracy of Jaime's predictions today.

2

Hi James

I am curious as to why Webber didn't use soft tyres in his final stint as he had already used the medium tyres in the previous stint?

3

The mediums were working better

4

what were those predictions?

5

Agreed, your Radio5 commentary was excellent. And Jaime's English is actually of a really high standard when you consider his age and nationality. Very impressed all round.

Combined with a foreign picture feed that I found on-line it all made for a highly enjoyable morning!

Looking forward to next week.

6

CONGRATULATIONS TO BUTTON, McLAREN AND HAMILTON!!

Also congratulations to Ferrari to have achieved better results than expected.

Nice finish of Kimi to be in 7th and Sauber to achieve 3rd on Constructors!

7

Agreed. James, how on earth can Massa defend a performance like that? If looked as though he was driving a b-spec car. Alonso turned in another great performance, Vettel raced his way back into contention, Webber was solid much like 2010, Button was superb, Hamilton was dissapointing but still solid.

Unfortunately some idiot news reader announced the race result without so much as a spoiler warning so I was a bit deflated come the BBC replay.

8

Even in '08 if Massa didn't have a good car underneath him he'd under perform; mostly because he likes a good front end and a stable rear - in Melbourne the F2012 asppeared to have awful traction with Massa's setup. Alonso on the other hand likes a front-end that washes out, any car is capable of doing that so he really can drive the wheels off anything you give him.

What's strange however is that a pointy front-end should discourage oversteer, not so on the F2012, something very mechanically un-sound with that car! Aero it seems not too bad. I'd hazard a guess that the rear suspension is a disaster.

9

He;s in a tough spot for sure. Everyone in the paddock saying what you are saying

10
Tornillo Amarillo

+1

James, Hamilton runs slower than Button, is it the setup, tyres management, the Team behind Button..?

11

Yeah, blame everyone and everthing except the one actually driving the car.

12

I think Lewis was slower because he had an argument with his girlfriend....

13

I would put it down to 2 things. Button is fast and was running in clean air.

14

@Ash.P agreed... I do think that running at the front is worth a tenth or two, no matter who is driving. It just seems to be so much easier for the guy leading the race.

I agree that Button's style suits racing now. Hamilton would probably have it better if there were 3-4 stops for fuel and tires per race, but that isn't the racing now. Now you have to drive fast and manage your tires/fuel consumption.

15

lewis was running in clean air....he had a 10 second gap between him and Button.

I'm a lewis fan but even I have to admit lewis had his ass handed to him in a brown paper bag today.

he was beaten on the day by a better race driver, lewis has got the pace over one lap but that isn't enough on the Pirelli tyres.

smoothness, consistency & intelligence has become more of a necessity than just a driving style, his blistering speed wont always make up for his infantile lake of race craft.

16

Unconvincing as he may have sounded, Hamilton's only option as he said is to put down his head and ensure he consistently scores points. More energy into reflecting on how he can improve rather than the dissappointment of not getting a win would help. So would more focus on how to improve his starts and motivate his side of the garage so that they can be more responsive to his requests to pit or re-consider his strategies.

He may not be enjoying the best support from his team but he is better off finding out how that situation can be dealt with rather than feeling low - there may still be 19 more races, but each one of them wasted without him dealing with the issues is one race too many. He should consider Jensen and the other WDCs on the grid such as Vettel, Alonso and Michael as the knowledge base from which to learn the lessons that eventually negates each of their weaknesses over time - lessons that could make him untouchable. Each of them have had weaknesses that they have quietly overcome - he can also do the same.

17

...maybe he was just slower today..?

18

Lewis is losing it...

May end up like Montoya, driving pick ups around ovals.

19

Button just plain quicker, he had Hamilton covered all the way and Hamilton knows it hence his glum and downtrodden behaviour post race. Button will be a formidable competitor this year.

20

Yes James,i found it strange that Lewis could'nt keep pace with Jason today it seems that it was,nt for the lack of trying even when Vettle got pass him its as if he could'nt catch him. James it seems to me that Lewis was runing slower than Jason from start to finnish of this race.Could it be setup?I don't think it was tyres management.Could it be Team behind Jason? This could be hard for you to answer but whatever insight you give would be most welcome.

21

I agree, and so it wasn't tyres as it was from the outset. Only time he closed was when JB was adjusting to vibration problem on 2nd set. Very odd

22
Tifosi numero uno

Wow, what a race. The tension in the grandstands was intense. Well done to jenson, class above today. Those mclarens are very fast. Webber really had to get ahead of roseberg quicker then he did, in the end had to wait for roaberg to pit. ferrari better get to work fast, this season could go down the toilet before they know it. WELL DONE RICCIARDO. Go aussies all round. Bring on malaysia

23

I'm interested to know why Webber didn't use his DRS on numerous occasions when he had it available when behind ROS. Its almost as if sometimes he was getting too fired up & forgetting he had it available?? Saw this quite a few times before the final round of pitstops, I wonder was it a mechanical issue or forgetfulness in the heat of battle?

Can anyone shed any light on this?

24

If that was the case..it must've been a mechanical problem. His engineer is there to point things like this to him and to analyze the performance lap by lap.

Mark needs to sort out his starts and he will be right up there with Vettel. He's not ready to retire..he's fast.

25

It's hard to feel sympathy for Maldonado. I still remember him ramming Lewis after quali last year + today (though accidentally) into Grojean.

Alonso did great. Massa shocking. I feel bad for him but don't think he deserves his seat...

Had a feeling Button will get the upper hand at the start. Vettel's move on Rosberg was great though I'm relieved I didn't have to see his finger!

Kimi's not bad for someone back after two years.

What was with Mark's bad start?!

26

I don't think Mark had a horrible start (I mean it was by no means great), but Rosberg was moving like a rocket.

Something definitely has to give with Marks starts though... It is really quite frustrating.

27

Respect to Alonso - i think i finally get it: he is a fighter and resilient as nails. This guy just doesn't know when to give up - now that i reflect on it, its the same fighting spirit that kept him in contention in 2007 even when he knew Ron Dennis was very actively against him. If Hamilton feels that Martin Whitmarsh is to him what Ron Dennis was to Alonso, then here is a simple working and proven strategy he can borrow from the Spaniard.

28

Webber pressed the limiter & couldn't get off the grid clean. I still think Ferrari is doesn't have the pace to be 5th, it's all Alonso. Worst thing about the race result is Hamilton's attitude. It seemed in Hamilton's mind Button did something wrong by beating him fair & square. I'm shocked that he is obviously not happy for his team mate! I'm loosing more and more respect for him. Also sensing serious team mate war again!

29

He didnt win in a car that was capable of winning, why would he be happy with that?

30
Grayzee (Australia)

When Webber was getting flogged by Vettel last year, he would acknowledge it and confess he had no answer. Whem Hamilton gets flogged by his teammate, he sulks. Just bad sportsmanship, I reckon.

31

ramming grosjean ...maldonardo was past but grosjean had brainfade and wouldn't give way which is why he was collected by a BACK WHEEL

rammed ,indeed

32

I think you've got to modify your line slightly if you're the one making an overtake and making someone share the track with you. Maldonado gave Grosjean no room there; his only option would've been to stop completely on entrance to the corner or run off into the gravel. It was an overly aggressive pass and a real shame for the race, given the Lotus' performance.

33

Grojean braked heaps and had a wheel over inside kerb. But Maldonardo was nearly on the wall when he turned in like a wounded bull and left nothing.He is an amateur and shouldve got a drive through penalty. Next time Grosjean should hold his line and force the outside guy to brake or run off !

34

Well even Martin Brundle thought Maldonado was a bit rude...

I think Grosjean left enough room...

35

Wow, what an intresting race. Sure one of the best opening races for a long time.

There were in my point of view, three stars of the race. Nr 1. J. Button, This man is just getting better and better ind if he keeps going like this he will be considered to be of the same caliber of the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel.

Nr2. Clearly Alonso did the maximum and took everything out of that poorly disigned Ferrari.

Nr3. I think Vettel had a great race to, and proved he desevers his two titels.

But the biggest sadness is to see the decline of Felipe Massa. If he doesn´t improve quickly he will be out of job very soon...Whats wrong with him?

36

Are Alonso and Massa even driving the same spec cars? It is just unblelievable how far apart they are. At this rate this will Massa's last season in Formula 1.

37

At this rate he may not even last the season.

38

I agree, but at this rate I wonder if Massa will be driving a Ferrari by the time they get back to Europe.

39

I fear the same. The Ferrari is bad no doubt. I spent the whole weekend watching the race from the corporate box on top of the pit box entry. Both drivers were struggling to keep the rear end of the car straight on the way in & out of the pit lane. But Massa could not even stay on the racing line in most corners! I am amazed that Alonso managed to finish 5th! But still Massa is hanging on to his seat by a thread. I like Filipe but he is unfortunately not good enough at this stage.

40

Yeah, we've seen how easy the #2 position is at Ferrari. We've seen how easy that second Ferrari is to drive in recent years during Massa's absence. Foolish rookies are probably lining up out the door to drive that second Ferrari and end their carriers in 3 GPs. I've got some Florida land for those that want that seat.

41

Personally, I think Ferrari are getting a dose of karma for past behavior. Sort of paying the price for past excesses.

The team orders, the bravado the driver treatment. They played plenty of hands to irritation of purists. They pushed out Schumi for Kimi who took them to the bank for the buyout. Kimi himself pushed out for Alonso. And no matter how hard Alonso tries eventually he will see that his efforts are being wasted. I think this is where Massa is. A veteran of the team he can see what is going on. I think the pressure, the driver treatment over last few years, the politics and all are tearing that place apart. To him it's just a job. And all those who criticize him - first put your life on the line to entertain him for two hours, come to within inches of death - then speak. He sees clearly what's going on, why should he sacrifice himself again for a team who never seems to favor him, never gives him #1 status, always pushes him aside. What would you do? Yeah, I would go in and get my check too. No stress.

42
[BR]CerealKiller

Indy (MAYBE)

43

Massa may not last the whole season. There is a ton of talent out there looking for an F1 seat, who can drive in a proper and professional manner.

44

Ferrari must look for alternatives as soon as possible - Alguersuari could be a good bet.

45

Agreed - we cant be the only people seeing what is staring everyone in the face. There are better drivers in almost every other team. Sorry to suggest a break up the great commentary partnership James - but Jaime should get the seat at Ferrari at least in the interim - unless he has burnt too many bridges with STR for that to be possible...

46

Two seasons overdue...

47

Great win JB! Never looked like not winning. I thought Seb might have jumped him at the restart but I couldn't have been more wrong.

Good to see Toro Roso score points today. It was pleasing to see Lewis so happy after the race, during the interviews... Maybe you should interview him the day after the event James. The guy was a total embarrassment. Get over yourself Lewis. You finished the race and scored great points for the team.

48

Great race jenson drove well but I don't see why everybody is jumping on lewis he was proballybe disappointed with his own performance to the point he proballybe feels he let himself down and proballybe going over the race thinking what he did wrong give the guy a break he's also gotta be frustrated by the safety car not mclaren fault of course but still frustrating by the way great drive by vettel and kobyiashi

49

Have I missed something? You say "it was pleasing to see Lewis so happy after the race during the interviews", then you go on to accuse him of being a Total Embarrasment' (not sure if the comment was meant to be 'tongue in cheek')

I too would have liked to have heard him expand on James's questions, but I just wonder, if the same questions had been asked of Kimi, would the answers have been anymore expansive?...I suspect not! If his body language after the race appeared negative, that's because he wants to win and not be a 'Plucky Loser'. I've listened to subsequent interviews and he knows that he was beaten by the better man today. There was a time when JB would be happy just to be on the podium, since 2009 all that's changed and it's now paying dividends.

50

He didn't speak at all after the cameras were turned off.

51

The only reason there arn't fireworks at McLaren is due to Button's good attitude....nothing to do with Lewis.

52

Hi James, you're much closer to the action than me, but he did appear to be more talkative when speaking to Lee McLenzie later on. Surely, I sincerely hope that this is not a continuation of last year!

53

Also I think he knows that this race was one of those races where no one but mecca will win due to the car/driver packages they have. So he was bummed to not get the "easy" (relatively speaking) win. who knows, mecca might not be as good shape for the rest of the year!

54

Well different personalities I guess, but I have always noticed that Button in the past has been very gracious in defeat & always praised Lewis' performance & the teams, even if it wasn't the ideal outcome for him personally.

I would have liked to see Lewis be a bit more gracious in return, however its also nice to see how fired up he is to win at Sepang & it shows what a racer he is, that anything less than 1st is simply not good enough in his books. I respect him for this attitude as it makes him such a great Grand Prix driver & entertainment to watch. 🙂

55

I would be curious to know if Vettel still had a set of fresh options available when he made his final pitstop, knowing that the safecar was gonna be out for a couple of laps and thus reduce the amount of remaining 'racing' laps, I was maybe a mistake by RBR and Vettel not to put that fresh set of options (again, if it was still available)...

56

He hadn't run on the primes so that wasn't an option.

57

As I recall he hadn't run the prime yet so he had to change to it

58

Had the same idea for am moment but then realized he had to go for the prime because he hadn't used them yet.

His strategy was option/option/prime the Macs (and Webber i think) went option/prime/option.

59

Pretty sure Vettel had to use primes as he stuck to options for middle stint, where most others used primes.

60

He hadn't been on the prime to that point ... had to go with Med's.

61

masterful drive by button

62

Great opener! Button owned the race today, after the first corner he never looked like losing it. Hopefully a sign of the season to come, he's just getting better and better. Gotta feel for Hamilton, a bad start and bad luck and that was his race compromised. I just hope those points dropped to Vettel don't hurt either McLaren driver later in the season.

I honestly didn't see Vettel's pass on Rosberg, I'll check it out on the highlights later. Regardless he drove well and put himself in a good position to pick up on Hamilton's misfortune. From a non-neutral perspective it would've been great if Schumacher hadn't retired when he did to see a battle between those two; hopefully there'll be another opportunity later in the season. It was same old same for Webber, a rubbish start followed by great speed in open air and then not having enough time to make it count.

Alonso pulled a blinder in a poor car; I was gutted for Williams but not in the slightest for Maldonado; I was impressed by Kimi and have no idea what happened on the last lap. Glad DiResta picked up points, especially seeing how unlikely it was all weekend.

All in all a great weekend's F1 action. Roll on Malaysia 🙂

63

James,

Great race. Jenson Button is a class act. I am not surprised he is doing well. He drove that horrible Honda with a lot of class and skill a few years ago. Lewis Hamilton is going to have his work cut out this season

64

Good start to the season and definitely great to watch at the track. Is it a trend for the year? Most say Albert Park is not a good form guide although I think it will be this year.

Well done Jenson Button, definitely in the best form of his career. He and car as one! The ability to pull away from the others at any time was very good and then just held his position. Drive of the day with possible exception to Ricciardo or Kobi.

Both Vettel and Hamilton no match for Button and Lewis didn’t need to look so down at the end. Yes he was on pole and missed out on safety car period but hey, that happens to everyone at times. I really want Lewis to keep up at the front but am tiring of his downcast looks when things go astray. It is only the first race and third is a good bag of points. Cheer up for god sake. He was never going to match Jenson after first corner.

Both RB’s look solid however Webber had another very conservative start and how his suspension survived first corner impact was amazing. Stuck behind Rosberg killed any chance however put in great middle sector of race and was a strong finisher and benefitted from SC period, as did Vettel. His race pace was excellent when out of Rosberg wake. Was Webber KERS working? RB definitely suffers in DRS zone as still struggle to get past merc engines when attacking.

Mercs again had great practice pace but seemed to lose pace to the others as race when on.

Great mid field battles all the way down the grid. Pastor deserved better however needs to finish to get it. Happy to see Williams back with speed! Grosjean will be back as will Kimi however his return was down like Schumi was. Lotus not finished. Solid race by Sauber and Torro Rosso. Didn’t know where to look on last lap. Ricciardo had top 8 speed when he recovered.

RB and McLaren still the top 2. Ferrari need divine intervention. Mercs need to get and keep good race pace.

The season will only get better one thinks

65

I have a theory on why the Mercs were good in FP and Quali, but not so good in the race. It has to do with the F-duct, which they are free to use anywhere on track except during the race, where they could only use it on the main straight and after turn 2 (why there, for ******'s sake?- come on, Charlie W.) I believe that Mercedes uses the air gathered by the intake of their F-duct, which is activated when the driver engages the DRS, is used to energize the diffuser. One reason MS was making sure that the corner workers didn't lift his car too high in the air, lest we all see. This may explain why they were good leading up to the race, then had problems.

66

yep thats what all the experts in the paddock have been saying on TV...

67

yep, thats pretty much the going theory mentioned by alot of commentators & experts.

68

I think they will be going backwards in races now, courtesy of their "f-duct system", as they can use it at free will in qualifying, but with limited use in race.

they will always out-qualify others, but loose in race

69

oh, yes, I was talking about Mercedes

70

That was an absolutely brilliant drive by Button. This is definitely shaping up to be a top season. I just hope Lewis doesn't spiral into another one of his depressive states - if his qualy form is anything to go by, we could see some superb drives from the both of them this year, and I want to really see them fighting for it.

And I'm not so sure the Mercedes will be as disappointing in Malaysia. They were definitely mixing it up there at the front early on. If they can sort out their tyres and reliability, I can see them fighting for wins. Sepang is a fast track and should suit them very well.

And big ups to the hometown boys. Though Mark had one of his patented Webber starts, he did well to get back up there fighting for the podium at the end. And that last lap sprint from Ricciardo was beautiful.

71

I feel for the way Lewis conducts himself. It could be either that he is too hard on himself, or he feels left out at McLaren. He has only himself to blame after he approached RedBull midseason last year.

72

I actually like this new attitude from Lewis, it says he means business. Sure, he was'nt happy with his result, and I would've been disappointed if his body language said that he did

73

I'd been hoping for a new season, a new attitude from Hamilton, but there doesn't seem to be any joy in him nowadays. Even after getting pole yesterday he seemed to be forcing himself to appear enthused. (And, as an aside, I'll mention that Nicole in the pits, even before the start, looked equally miserable.)

74

Had a row with the misses no doubt as some one else said... move on Lewis

75

Agreed he was very subdued all weekend, apart from when he got pole

76

Lewis seems to be getting a taste of his own medicine. How Lewis feels now is exactly how Fernando Alonso would have felt in 2007.

77

Good d rive by Button.

Great job by Vettel all considering, he did a great overtake on Roseberg. Showed he can really race.

78

One swallow does'nt make a summer!

79
Andrew Woodruff

Someone on here commented triumphantly after qualifying about the more aggressive Hamilton and Webber getting the better of their supposedly softer team mates. That guy must have hated the outcome of this race!

Button in a class of his own today. Hamilton said the right things afterwards I suppose, but I don't really buy this new and reformed version of himself that he is trying to sell. "I need to keep my head down and my day will come" I think he said, or something along those lines. I'm not sure that's really the point Lewis. Drivers like Schumacher, Senna and Prost didn't achieve everything they did by waiting for their day to come, and they certainly didn't stay out of trouble either. The difference is that they had maturity and intellect and knew their own mind, unlike Hamilton who gets told what to say like a puppet by his management company. I like the way James skipped over him in the press conference when he glossed over the question and just said what a great job everyone had done and thanked his management. Nice one JA!

80

The fight between Button and Hamilton over the full season will be exciting. Hamilton seems to have the better qualifying pace but in race pace there is not much between them. And if Red Bull and Ferrari can find some pace they might be in the mix too. Hopefully there will be a five driver shootout for the title again, just like in 2010. Would be good to watch.

81

Have you consdered the case that Lewis might have meant what he said? I suspect you are one if those individuals who would criticise Lewis regrdless of what he says. I forfor one along with M Whitmarsh don' t want him to content with third pace, he,s supposed to be disappointed, they are too class drivers/athletes winning is what they do, as Jenson demonstrated very well today.

82

Lewis is only human.

One minute we want the drivers to say what they really think, the next we don't believe they are being truthful?

83

Not much to say about the race. Not much to talk about. Business as usual, as was the last couple of seasons in F1.

The race was OK, but hardly a classic. The last part of it was somewhat dull, maybe except the last couple of laps.

Nothing has changed much since last season, except that Mclaren and Red Bull are closer to each other, with Mclaren so far having a little advantage.

We could predict that Ferrari will be there or thereabouts, Mercedes is a big unknown. If you go by their form from the last couple of seasons, then there is not much optimism, but maybe they can progress a little more. Renault also are a big unknown. I suspect that the development race will put back everything in its places pretty quickly.

84

"Sender".... Dull was the Schumi/Ferrari races of the early 2000's..

Yesterday was a great race with so many positives for a great season ahead.

Consider this:

- Expect Kimi Raikonen qualify 8-10 spots further up the grid.

- Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber all showed solid improvement on last years car...matching race pace of the leaders at times.

- Mercedes much better.

- RB and McLaren trading punches now...expect to see he any of the above plus Alonso weigh into the fight.

5 days to go and we do it again...sweet.

85

Your last sentence...music to my ears 🙂

86

Well, yes about the Renault - I guess there are a lot of people who still associate them with the name "Renault".

Raikkonen was really good. But it is early days. Last year Renault was good in the first races, they got podiums, but later they got worse and worse. Let's hope it does not repeat.

About the Mercedes I do not agree. Yes, qualifying was promising, but race pase was pretty bad. So almost midfield teams - as soon as the development race will seriously start, the picture will change. How many time have we seen Williams or somebody else start on a high note and then pretty quickly drop back? I hope tat this year will be different, but logic says otherwise.

About Mclaren, Red Bull and Alosno I agree - that should be interesting.

87

Renault is now Lotus btw.

88

I still can't switch! I still see them as Renault if not then Genii...the logo is so big.

89

I honestly believe Hamilton is no longer the favourite son at Mclaren for whatever reason, the start was a bit surprising to say the least, I can't remember in the last 10/15 years the pole sitter lose out in the first corner to the second guy on the grid, especially when you are starting from the clean side of the track...the tide has definitely change inside the Mclaren camp, this guy is always getting the less favourable calls, even after pitting, he seems to get traffic in front of him all the time, especially in Melbourne where overtaking is painlful difficult, this are nibble things which impair anyone's race , nevertheless it was a great race from Jenson, he made no mistakes, looked well after his tyres and controlled the race from the front beautifully, in contrast Lewis struggle for pace, it cannot be only tyre preservation, the reason he couldn't get closer to Jenson, 2012 will be definitely be a year to remember, the level of competitiveness between the teams will be amazing for the fans, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari will not give up easily, but as an Hamilton fan, I think it's time to move on, perhaps to Mercedes if a seat becomes vacant in 2013, he needs to grow up outside the Mclaren shade, Jenson is more experience and intelligent driver these days, he learned a lot whilst racing for other teams and surely fought his demons at one stage in his career, I fondly remember when he was at Renault and was trashed by Alonso under "Don Briatore" watch, that experience made him a stronger driver, but I reckon the turning point in his career was when he paired at Bar/Honda/Brawn with Jacques and Rubens, the experience made him a very complete driver, he learn a lot from them, either Lewis will accept this and learn from him as well, or if his pride and ego refuse to accept it, there is no other alternative than move on and improve his racecraft elsewhere, difficult times ahead of him I'm afraid...

90

i think the person Jenson learned from the most was Takuma Sato imo.

Jenson saw what Sato was doing and he made sure he did the complete opposite.

91

Peter Dennis,

(James Allen perhaps you can comment on this as well?)

re Hamilton's bad start

On the One HD Live Coverage (Channel 10) here in OZ, 2 of the commentators were walking the grid just before the start, and walked from Lewis Hamilton's P1 position on the grid across to Jenson Button's P2 position to show how far behind the P1 position it was.

One of the commentators then said, that although, in theory, P1 was the preferred position, on the racing line, about 400mm in front of Lewis Hamilton's P1 position was a black and white chequered finishing line painted on the ground, and the commentator said that launching off the line, Hamilton would lose grip on the paint, and that Button would have put the initial torque off the mark to the ground before he reached the painted finish line on the ground.

His pre-race prediction was because of this, Button would beat Hamilton to the first corner.

James Allen - any thoughts on this prediction?

92

Yes, it was my friend and occasional JA on F1 contributor Tom Clarkson. He made some good points. In the Porsche race the dirty side was 0.3s slower from 0-100km/h on the dirty side than the clean side. But the angle of the turn in to the first corner means that it's easy for the driver on the inside to hold his line and win the corner

93

I think I remember hearing on commentary that usually the pole-sitter holds first position into first corner at Australia?

94

13 out of 16 times, yes

95

Lewis has been a bad starter since last season. I think he made a mistake to undergo a second run at Q3, he didn't need that. Today he was supposed to change his tyres 2 to 3 rounds earlier for the 1st pit stop as he was much slower than the rest.

96

Yeah Peter Dennis, have you not watched F1 in the past century? It happens all the time. Just last year, the pole sitter lost out to second place at China, Belgium, Korea, Spain and Italy. you should really get your facts straight.

97

"...I can’t remember in the last 10/15 years the pole sitter lose out in the first corner to the second guy on the grid, especially when you are starting from the clean side of the track..."

Are you serious?

98

Wht he means to say is "In the 3 or 4 races I've watched down at the pub whilst sinking a few, I can't believe....."

😉

99

Gday,

Jenson may be the 'head' driver at McLaren but make no mistake Lewis is their beating heart....

100

Does that mean McLaren will soon require life support?

101

If you define "beating heart" as the guy who comes in third, then yeah your spot on.

102

What a great start to the 2012 season. Massively impressed with the control Button showed. Very Vettel like in fact. Able to turn it on when needed, able to stay in control through his tyre vibrating issue, safety car etc.

Nice to see Redbull up there too, what we didn't want was a season controlled by one team, and it looks like it won't be. Ferrari in the hands of Alonso, better than expected. Good race from Kimi. Liked what I saw from Maldonado, and very unlucky end as he pushed the Ferrari.

I'm sorry to say I'm disappointed by Lewis after the race. He doesn't loose well. I like him, but it's almost spoilt child like. I fear another strange year ahead for him.

Jenson took fastest lap also, so there should no longer be all this talk of his speed not matching Lewis. Time and time again Lewis has been quicker over 1 lap. But a race...Jenson normally has the measure. And showed his class again today.

7 days and I'm already excited.

103

I think JB had hit the sweet spot in terms of set up this weekend, which probably explains why he was so close to LH in qualifying, LH's set up may not have been quite there. He didn't allude to it but who knows. Had JB been behind Vettel I think he certainly would have passed him. He had pace to spare.

As for Maldonado, a good drive but he should be embarrassed for dumping it on the last lap, especially when his team are desperate for points, any points. They would take 6th place at every race at the moment.

104
JackFlash (Aust)

Even more puzzling for LH if you look at the ranking of times in the 3 Race Sectors.

http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Documents/aus-race-sectors.pdf

???? JF

105

Hamilton was horrible in the 2nd sector - if i recall, he was aware of how slow he was in that sector yesterday during qualifying.

106

The fastest laps and sector times in a race will tend to be from the final few laps when fuel is lowest, so are not representative of overall pace. There are many factors at play, notably tyres, traffic and DRS, so there's a limit to what you can read from that data.

107

Also have a close look at Alonso's times. Only the 7th fastest lap time, 8th fastest S1, 13th S2 and 5th fastest in S3...

I take it he does those lap in and lap out to be able to drag that Ferrari into 5th place. Talk about getting the most out of a car!

108

And even more telling is the fact that Massa is a second off the pace in ALL THREE sectors. Not looking good for him. I'll bet if this continues for the next three races we'll see someone piloting the 2nd Ferrari before the end of the year.

109
JackFlash (Aust)

If you want even more interesting bit of Race Pace info, take a look at the FIA records for the Race @:

http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Documents/aus-race-laps.pdf

Both Vettel and Webber were faster than Hamilton too! Isn't that a worry for Hammy? The Bulls have more pace than him, not only his 'slow' (cough, cough) team-mate Button. Maccas and RBRs collectively are reasonably ahead of others on speedy lap times.

I know... One Race a Season does not make! Can't wait for next Weekend in Sepang. JF

110

Everybody's saying Alonso's race pace was good, but where would he have been if Schu hadn't retired? Or Grosjean?

He lost 17 seconds to Webber in the last 10 laps of the race. I know he had nothing to race for at that point, but still.... It's not that encouraging for the Tifosi. Or is it?

I enjoyed your commentary James. You're 30 seconds or so ahead of RTL's feed. Next race if you could please watch that instead of your monitors then I'll be happy. 🙂

111
[BR]CerealKiller

Totally agree. I keep asking myself, how many years (seasons) will take to Ferrari (Fiat) top management realize that Domenicalli is not able to handle it. He should leave ASAP.

112

I assume that since you're judging solely on grid position, you reserve the same judgement for webber and vettel no?

113

If you listen to the commentary through a recorder box you can pause the sound to match up to the video feed, as we did 🙂

114

Martin Brundle & Crofty were amazing to day. Sorry to say James, but the BBC are no match for them 2 they were as good as the race.

Well done to Sky. They paired up the 2 who I have always wanted to be.

115

Someone should tell Crofty he's not on the radio any more and doesn't need to describe what can be clearly seen by TV viewers. A bit less shouting and some silence during in car footage wouldn't go amiss either

116

Brundle was good but croft made too many mistakes, it's a pity Sky didnt't get Ben Edwards, I dont understand all this "Crofty" business he's a bit of a buffoon.

Anyway where are all of the Williams doom merchants, that was a thrilling battle between them and caterham like you have all been predicting, Maldo was pretty much on Webbers pace and while I could have cried with half a lap to go that could turn out to be a valuble lesson for Pastor, roll on the next GP and fingers crossed for 2x Williams in the points.

117

Their commentary had a good energy to it.

Sorry DC!

118

That's a good idea, thanks. I was listening to an online stream... I've an old PVR knocking about somewhere, I'll have that in place for Sepang!

119

Hi James

Just a quick question whilst your still in Melbourne which you may be able to find out an answer.

Petrov stopped on the main straight directly opposite our seats in the grandstand. He stopped at the double opening gates to the pit wall which the teams go through to access the start grid. Why were these gates not used to remove Petrov car instead of waiting for a recovery truck?

Marshalls were there. Was the car unable to ‘free wheel’ or is a point now that if a safety car is called it will just be accepted that there will be a minimum 3-4 laps under SC due to the new (old) rule of lapped cars being able to unlap themselves so no need for quicker recovery??

Thanks

120
kenneth mulvaney

Good question....

It wqas strange that ikt took them sooo long to recover a car parked right in front of the pits.....

Also, it was farcical s see the F1 cars lead around by a recovery truck!!

121

It's all down to safety rules. Gates like that have to remain shut while the circuit is live.

122

Thanks Richard, I take you point on safety but one would think that removing the car through the gate would be safer than having a pickup tray truck coming around the circuit with the cars still running at some speed. ( re: NASCAR accident few weeks ago)

To answer my own question though, it may also be due to Albert Park having a narrow pitlane and that by removing the car through the gate, it may impede pit lane hence slowing down anyone that comes in for a stop. Maybe??

123

Jenson looked far more comfy out there today than Lewis, pulled away quickly and that's why Lewis was so muted. JB appears to have really got the upper hand in that team...

124

Hi James great race and enjoyed the view of the cars zipping round turn 11 and 12. Looks like we could be with for great year with the Mclarens and Red Bulls even for race pace and other teams such as Lotus looking strong. Any reasons for Mercedes lack of pace? They looked so strong in testing and in qualifying.

125

Great result for Button, but Mclaren shot themselves in the foot again, losing a probable 1-2.

It was clear in the first stint that both Hamilton and Button had stayed out for too long and were being caught by the Red Bulls. If they had both pitted earlier both would have been in front of Perez and would have opened a gap to Vettel. This would have allowed a more routine second pit stop and stopped Vettel jumping Hamilton.

If both Red Bull and Mclaren continue to be competitive. I can see Button winning the WDC but Mclaren losing the WCC (again!) if they keep repeating mistakes they made from 2010-2011.

126

Isn't that the sort of thing Sam Michael came to fix?

127

I didn't understand why McLaren kept Hamilton out so long for the first stint. He ran 2 laps longer than Button before he finally pitted, even though his times were dropping. And when he came back out he was stuck in traffic which allowed Button to increase his lead.

Passing in Aus is always difficult. Even with 2 DRS zones we saw little passing in the zones. In fact, even though Webber seemed faster than Hamilton towards the end, and was under 1 sec behind, Webber still couldn't get close enough to make a pass on Hamilton. So clearly pit stop strategy was key.

128

I agree that McLaren always stick with the Pit Stop program. They should have more flexible of their plan from the situation around them.

Even for me as a viwer, I look at real time lap from Formula1.com, I saw lewis lose about 1 second a lap to Vettel, and they let Lewis continue for several lap before they pit Lewis. McLaren should also see it they loss the gap to Vettel, why don't they make some dicision.

Why they have to wait for Button first then Lewis, Button is 10 second ahead, no matter Lewis or Button who will makte the pit first, Button still be ahead anyway.

Why don't they bring Lewis first to make sure he don't lost the gap to Vettel?

129

Poor Maldonado... In addition, I think it's the first time two Australians have finished in the points in an F1GP. It's also the first time no French driver has finished in the top ten since Brazil 2011. Feisty final lap. The big question is; can Sauber hang onto 3rd in the constructors championship?

130

There were no French drivers on the grid last year...are you serious?

132

Wow. What a finish. Edge of the seat stuff all the way through the field!

Go Jenson - maybe this will stop the negative comments about his outright race pace.

Roll on Malaysia.

133

I doubt that the negative comments about JB will ever stop; just as MSC supposedly only won 5 consecutive WDC's because of the car and the fact that Rubens was forced to move aside for him.

134

Wow. Hamilton had a dominate car from pole and didn't win. Who would have thunk. Guess he now has to prove he can win without a dominate car.

135

Does anyone know what the word "dominant" means? Best car, and dominant car, are two different things. McLaren has the best car on evidence so far, but dominant? No way. They are not dominant like the RB6 and RB7 were.

136

Great race. Alonso and Perez clearly are stars of the race. Congratulations to new Lewis also

137

James, or anyone have any idea on what exactly is making ferrari struggle

138

I hope the Hamilton brigade realise even with a faster car Lewis still got beaten by Seb, also nice one Button you showed your class today and broke Hamilton, it won't be 2009 again but with the speed of this Mclaren it's going to be a battle of the team mates this year, Vettel and Alonso will be close on a few occasions this year but their cars won't be quick enough for a title challenge.

139

Hamilton had to go at delta speed, while Vettel was near the pits when the SC was deployed. It was a bit of good fortune for Vettel that he emerged in 2nd b/c of that, and then Lewis couldn't get around him in the first few laps, and by then his tires (already a lap longer) were affected by being in the turbulent air, and the chance was gone.

Plus the RB8 in race trim is not as far off the Mac's as in qualifying, as shown by Webber's final position pushing Lewis over the line. Any deficit the RB8 has to the MP4-27 is very slight in the race. I think we have to wait and see how the McLaren's work with the softer tires on long middle stints before saying they're clearly the top car.

140

Wake up, seb got a free pit stop because petrov broke down......he was behind on strategy!!!

141

Please explain how he was behind on strategy and how did he get a free stop? He would have jumped Lewis without the safety car has Mark showed wat the bull could do in clear air

142

LOL

Seb didn't want to admit this. Even official F1 website said safety car gave him a lifeline.

143

Vettel was less than 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton when Lewis pitted right before the Petrov Safety Car. Considering Lewis's track position when he came out, behind Webber and Maldonado in 5th, Vettel could have stayed out a few more laps while Webber held up Lewis and he would have passed Lewis through the pits if the race stayed green. Don't forget that Lewis had 16 laps to overtake Vettel for 2nd. Lewis couldn't get it done. Tealeaf, you are dreaming if you think Vettel and Red Bull won't challenge for this title. One race does not define the remaining 19 GP.

144

It was hardly a free pitstop, he was only 1 second behind Hamilton before the 2nd stop and Hamilton was struggling with his tyres, Vettel closed 10 seconds on him on the second stint alone, it was going to be touch and go between them 2 with or without the safety car.

145

Great race for McLarens, even despite Hamilton loosing 2nd place to Vettel.

I am deeply disappointed by Hemilton's performance (I guess everyone saw by his body language he was disappointed himself). I don't know what happend to him, but I can only hope he will get it sorted out before next week...

Why do I have a feeling his bad performance and renewed romance with Nicole Scherzinger is not a coincidence...

146

Aww c'mon Give the guy a break. 🙂

He lost 5 seconds on wornout rubber, by going two laps to long on his first pitstop. Had Mclaren pitted him the lap before Jenson, perhaps things would have been much different.

But mclaren understandably favors the leading car. Deeply disapointed? bad performance? His drive was good enough for second. Vettel only jumped him because of the safety car, and Nobody could catch Jenson today. He's the master of Melbourne. He won there 2009 and 2010. He seem to own that track.

And Nicole.

She's such a hottie (Obviously serious bout their relationship too). I mean; I can totally understand why LH likes her being in the paddock after a sweaty day on the race track. 😉

147

Lead car has first call on strategy, ie when to stop

148

I meant say "hindering Jensons strategy surely"

149

That is one thing I do not understand though, does the second car have to wait until the lead car has pitted? Lewis could have pitted one lap before Jenson without hindering Jensons surely?

Any explanation on that James?

BTW, great commentary from you and Jaime, even though over here we only get to enjoy it for the free practice sessions.

150

As lead car on the road JB gets the first call on strategy. That's the price LH paid for losing the start

151

Ditch the broad, Lewis. She is nothing but bad news.

152

+1

But she is a lovely looking woman, whats a man to do.

Her or history?

153

'Why do I have a feeling his bad performance and renewed romance with Nicole Scherzinger is not a coincidence…'

You do suspect Hamilton didn't get enough sleep the night before the race?

154

Wow, that Hamilton is such a sulk when he is beaten.

I wish he would grow up just a little.

155

I don't think his reaction was that bad. Unless you'd rather him put on a big fake smile.

Admittedly he hasn't 'matured' like Vettel seems to have in the past couple of years but it's natural to be disappointed as 3rd isn't really good enough.

156

This was precisely what Hamilton fans were saying about Alonso in 2007. How times change.

157

Lewis lose the race to Button from the Starting line is acceptable. The bad thing for him is that after the first corner, he can't keep up with Button pace, that the big problem for him.

158

Would you prefer him to put on a false front, maybe do a little soft-shoe for you? He should be disappointed when he doesn't win, he's there to win.

Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.

159

Ok a good loser is 1 in the name of Mika Hakkinen, in his own words after the 2000 Japanese GP: "to be a good winner you have to be a good loser"

Also Seb didn't win Australia but he was happy with what he got and acknowledged Jenson was untouchable yesterday.

160

Yes, it seems disappointing he didn't celebrate the podium. Mr. Hamilton take a look at drivers who were less lucky than you, like Mr. Schumacher, who retired from 3rd place with a broken gearbox, and try to learn some dignity, if you want to be embraced by F1 fans.

161

Amazing, Ferrari fighting off Williams for p5!!

Looks like the Midfield now includes Ferrari, Sauber, Lotus and [it seems] Williams.

Kimi - very impressive: p18 to p7

Had he not screwed up Quali, It looks like he would have had a top 3 finish.

James, would you concur with that??

btw, I really enjoyed your crisp race commentary this morning

162

Kimi's race was badly compromised by the mistake in qualifying. He ended up fighting with Kamui for a lot of the race. The Lotus' race pace looks good, as does the Williams.

If Ferrari don't improve quickly, they're going to have a long season fighting with Williams, Mercedes and Lotus for the lower positions. The problems with the Lotus and Mercedes gave Fernando a higher final position than he would otherwise have achieved.

Great to see Williams back up fighting near the top once more. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a resurgence in their fortunes. I can't help wondering what would have happened had Rubens kept his seat instead of Bruno.

Jenson's drive was brilliant today. I wasn't watching detailed timing screens during the race, but it appeared from the TV coverage that he had a consistent 0.1 - 0.2 seconds on Lewis for the greater part of the race, and kept his tyres under him for a little longer. The way that he just turned up the wick and cruised away from Sebastian after the safety car was a joy to watch.

The Saubers had moments where they looked very quick this weekend, but their race pace was a little disappointing to me. I thought they'd be closer to the front than they were.

Roll on Malaysia. It's way too soon to write off Lewis, but round 1 definitely went in Jenson's favour.

163

Lewis (and his fans) thought the race was already won after yeserday's qualifying.

But Button showed, as he did last year, who the best driver in the team really is.

What a dominat performance!

Well done, also, to Vettel, Alonso and Kobayashi.

164

Wrong - nobody thought the race was won after qualifying and Lewis was very clear about that in the post-qualifying press conference.

165

James, what's your opninion on Ferrari (Alonso) being faster with more fuel then when they have less (on medium tires).

Thanks,

166

I don't think we can say Ferrari has a better race car here...

the car is a total non sense...look at his practice, he was taking multiple jabs at a corner, wrestling with that beast.

you only have to admire how he brought that b.... of a car for 5th position....

the true pace of that car? talk to Massa

I think Alonso was the star of the race...

167

Christian Horner was right to identify JB as the their biggest threat at RB. Jenson has picked up where he left off last year and is surely now McLaren's de facto number one driver. His brand of leadership has quietly but very effectively helped to bring McLaren to a very strong position. What a way to kick of the championship.

168

Hold your horses, it's only one race people. Both Lewis and Vettel as well as Jenson will have a lot to say about this title fight.

169

bang on! lewis can no longer be classed ahead of JB.

170

Wow what an exciting race towards the end there were so many battles going on the cameras couldn't keep up Lewis is better than jenson over one lap but come Sundays I think jenson is much stronger and will prove last season was no fluke.As for Sebastian who said he couldn't race wheel to wheel that move he made on rosberg was brilliant not to mention he finished in front of Lewis who clearly had a faster car.As for the midfield well i just wish I could have seen more and what a battle that's going to be and how bout them torro rosso lads what a brilliant performance and had they gotten away from turn 1 cleanly they would of bagged more points

171

Lucky Vettel finished in front of Lewis by the Safety Car, not on track performance.

172

Ah Bisto, this is going to be a good season, and not simply because McLaren are on top and Jenson won, but that everyone is so close. It's great that we'll be seeing Vettel have to fight in the pack more this year too it seems; his move on Rosberg was top drawer - it's always been silly those that would say he can't overtake!

But yes go Jenson! And though it's understandable Lewis would be disappointed not to convert the pole to the win and further suffer the ignominy of dropping down to 3rd, I was a little concerned how much his head seemed to drop post race; suggesting his mentality and mood still seems to be finally balanced.

It's as if Lewis's state of mind rests on a very thin plinth and the slightest misfortune can unstable him and send him into gloomsville. Whereas Jenson appears as if his mind rests on a much wider, stable metaphorical plinth and the knocks of disappoints don't topple him so easily. For example he was still pretty upbeat after Lewis beat him to pole. Always so chilled! I could take a note out of his book if I'm honest ha ha!

But yeah, chin up Lewis. You've started the year with the best car and so has a very strong chance of taking the crown this year. He should stay positive! I'm sure it is just the initial rawness of not winning (he probably thought it was 90% in the bag) and he'll be quite perky next week upon reflection.

173

Jenson has had a lot of knocks in F1, so he's had a lot of opportunity to build that wide plinth underneath him.

Lewis finished third. His teammate stretched the lead right from the start, and Lewis couldn't keep pace. That's not going to cause any competitive driver to be beaming from ear to ear at the chequered flag.

Round 1 to Jenson. Looking forward to Malaysia.

174

Yes that's very true, and of course a racer who's happy not winning isn't a true sportsman. I just think - to the media at least - it would be good for Lewis to try to focus on picking out the positives. If he acts too down, the media comments on this. That can lead to more (silly) questions from them to him, thus starting a negative cycle feedback.

Anyway, only one week for him to come back with a win. Those Mercedes may be a shot for pole though with their DRS extra special speed boost!

175

I think we must gratulate Jenson on a great race, but commiserate with Lewis after such a brillant pole position. McLaren of course will be pleased with that result, but Red Bull are snapping at their heels, and the development race is on. Still not keen on high degradation tyres as results are developed from other factors other than wheel to wheel racing.

176

I thought you were leaving after last season... something about this not being "true F1" anymore?

177

It certainly is not a true race for the reasons given, but personally I never said anything about not following F1 anymore. The powers that be like to tinker with F1 to improve the spectacle and naturally that helps some and hinders others. How can something that rewards for the wrong reasons be anything else? Regardless of that it's is going to be an interesting season with the teams all so close.

178

Again with the tyres. We got it last year because you mentioned it in every post. We get it now. They dont suit your driver so you prefer we go back to a bridgestone 'no wear' tyre.

179

Yes and I mean it! High degradation tyres give narrow band width that suits a particular driving style. It becomes not a true race, but a tyre strategy and conservation exercise. With durable tyres everyone gets the same opportunity, and far more latitude to allow proper wheel to wheel racing as it is race position is dictated by other factors.

180

I second that.

181

A few minutes before the warm up lap an Australian sports journalist from Channel 10(OneHD)who was on the track pointed at a white painted strip on track across the P1 slot and said Button might have the edge because when Lewis drives over this slippery white paint he might spin his rear wheels, something, something second clutch, i forgot the rest.

182

Alonso again saving Ferrari, this guy skills are beyond the stars.

183

absoloutely!!

184

I'll second that!

Drive of the day. I do hope that Ferrari find that extra second, to give him a fighting chance for the WDC. I feel so sad about Massa though. Either he must pull some 2008 Massa-magic out of the hat, or call it a day. He just has'nt been there since his accident.

185

Totally agree.

186

This race proves two things:

a. How Button was often underrated and

b. How Hamilton was overrated.

Hamilton did not have the answer for Button's pace today. The second stint especially, when Button managed to open a 10 second gap from 3 second was really amazing. Hamilton seems unhappy obviously on the podium by finishing third. Ferrari is still looked lacking of pace, on a heartless drive from Alonso ensured that they finished on fifth. Williams really impressed me on Maldonado hands; it very unfortunate that they failed to score points at the very last lap.

187

I am a fan of McLaren and I like both of them

Button drive is excellent but the gap of 3 sec to 10 sec is not by Button pace, It come from Lewis stuck behind Perez after pit. From the timing screen, their pace were pretty much the same.

188

I like them both, too.

189

Anyway, if Hamilton is faster than Button, once he cleared Perez he would have catch Button back. Initially, this was happening, when the 10 seconds gap was closed up to 9 seconds, but then as usual, Hamilton's is unable to preserve his tyres to sustain better than Button. And remember, at that time, Button was having vibration on his tyres. The same thing can be said after the safety car's period, when Hamilton was hustling at the back of Vettel. But in the end, Vettel is better at preserving his tyres and can make a 1.5 seconds gap to the end of the race whereas Hamilton is falling to Webber's clutch. While I have to admit that Hamilton is fascinating to watch, but my point is never underrate Button because he has proven himself today by controlling the race. Fastest lap, leading every lap and race wins really proves his credentials. Its not pure luck

190

Yeah right, and trashing his tyres in the process, exposing him to Vettel. Lewis was not going to catch and pass Jenson, partly because of the nature of the circuit and partly because Jenson was in sublime form to be honest, so he had to drive to keep his position, save his tyres and save fuel, from Lap 8 according to whitmarsh.

191

Thing is, both Mclarens were not running at their peak performance because of unexpectedly high fuel consumption. If that's true (according to the Team Principal), then it's hard to see how anyone can draw conclusions about any of their drivers performances. If they'd had enough fuel, it might have been a different story.

192

The gap after the first pit stop was helped by both Hamilton and Vettel being stuck behind Perez, who was on a one-stopper. Button came back out into clear air.

Button clearly beat Hamilton today, but too early to say that that's how the season will play out.

193

"The second stint especially, when Button managed to open a 10 second gap from 3 second was really amazing." You mean the same laps where Lewis was losing time stuck behind Perez?

194

You must be joking right? Button got that 7 sedond only because Hamilton stayed out for 1 one lap longer than he did and he also hit traffic when he came out! they were pretty much even on pace in second stint.

195

"...a heartless drive from Alonso.."

His drive was fueled only by his heart. The car is only as good as Massa's position, but Alonso was able to get it up to P5. An amazing feat in a terrible car.

196

May I add another major point prooved by this race..

IE. How much the suits at the BBC have saved the british taxpayers by not handing over millions to that old guy for the rights to show this stuff live....

After a winter that promised much -- we have to look well down the order to see any suprises..

197

One race and you're already crowning Jenson. Great drive from Jenson but like most of his win =Hamilton misfortunes+unfavourable team decisions/rain.

198

Pretty sure I watched the whole race but I must have missed the rain.

199

(Button win=1+2)

1.Hamilton misfortune = A few minutes before the warm up lap an Australian sports journalist from Channel 10(OneHD)who was on the track pointed at a white painted strip on track across the P1 slot and said Button might have the edge because when Lewis drives over this slippery white paint he might spin his rear wheels.

2.Unfavourable team decision/rain = Not being able to pit at the optimal time and Safety car.

200

What a first race of the season! Phew!

Shame Webber couldn't muster a podium for the home crowd, but thoroughly enjoyed. Bring on Malaysia!

201
Michele Terminello

James, you done an absolutely awesome job with the reports and F1 news on One HD this weekend! Keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to this weekend in Malaysia and this is looking to be one of the most promising seasons we've seen in a while.

An awesome race today, definitely one of the best I've seen with so much action. I'm happy with Fernando's performance even though the car isn't up to speed as of yet, hopefully things slowly improve for the Mighty Prancing Horse as the season goes on. Forza Ferrari!

202

I second that! After the race on Sunday, I actually watched James' Saturday intro from OneHD's coverage and I was amazed that all his predictions and calls were spot-on the mark! Hats off! I want one of those crystal balls:)

203

what a Brilliant race it was for McLaren. Sadly though it was not a 1-2. But still the championship and races this year seems to be more interesting and exciting given that In 23 Races this is the first time a Red bull car has not lead a single lap. One big relief for the McLaren fans is that the design they have gone through has benefited them immensely. Go Mclaren Go!!.

204

Vettel lead just before the Safety Car, he overtook JB and Lewis when they both pitted at the same time

205

Vettel did lead on lap 36, when both McLarens pitted.

Not getting carried away with McLaren's pace just yet ... them and RBR are closer in race trim, and they're closer than the RBR and McL were last year. Have to see how McLaren handle a middle stint on new options.

Malaysia will test the degradation far more.

206

Suprised that I'm not hearing much about Ricciardo's drive - and more so, his what looks to be, genuine race pace. He was dead last after pitting when coming together with Senna and fought his way to put pressure on Vergne to make a mistake on the last corner to come 9th. With that pace he would have had the torro rosso 6th or 7th. Pretty impressive I reckon

207

DR was in Q3 and JEV was at the top of the Q2 dropouts, so the potential is there this year for Toro Rosso. There's been a little lightness in referring to STR when talking about the midfield so far in the media/punters - usually mentioned, then left out in favour of the others. Realistically, they've still yet to prove they should be mentioned as a midfielder. However, I enjoyed Ricciardo's postrace comment about 'pushing like hell' - not something you heard often enough (at least reportedly) from Algi or Buemi. Sepang should be a better indicator, but expect some monsoon weather this year...

208

I'm sure McLaren's pace has every other team's nose out of joint! Actually, on that thought...

209

LOL!

Best comment of the day.

210

Wow the Saubers.. what the?..

James can you shed some light on why Kamui isn't getting any more attention from other teams?.. No one seems to talk about this guy when spots come up at top teams.. For instance Massa may be looking for a new seat son, shouldn't this firebrand be on top of Ferrari's list?

He strikes me as having the same problem Mark had early in his F1 career. Unmarketable to the massive European audience - I even remember Flavio saying exactly that about Mark years ago when Renault was winning it all with Alonso. Does Kamui have a serious chance to show what he's got in a top team??

211

You guys are forgetting RBR and Ferrari now have junior driver programs. KK will not go to RBR because Webber's seat will go to one of the STR drivers (most probably in 2014).

Nor will KK go to Ferrari. Perez is a graduate from Ferrari Junior Drivers program (as was Massa), so it's Perez who is most likely to get a promotion to red.

As for Kubica, I fear his F1 days are over.

212

I agree...Perez is a likely candidate for Ferrari.

213

Someone will have to consider him eventually. He's beaten de la Rosa, Heidfeld and Perez in equal cars, including doubling Perez's score last year, implements strategies well, doesn't make many mistakes and consistently scores points. If Webber leaves Red Bull, I reckon Kobayashi is the obvious replacement. Marketing wise, I would think they'd go for him; he's aggressive on track and funny and engaging off track.

214

That's a good point about Red Bull. Just slightly question whether they would hire someone that is not part of their driver grooming strategy - a Torro Rosso driver that is. Maybe the two Rosso drivers will not be ready at the end of the year when Mark goes and Kamui will get his shot. Let's hope. This bloke deserves it! He made a splash years ago with Toyota and they are long gone now and he's still impressing. He's paid his dues.

215

As much of a Kamui fan I am, he did have quite an anonymous season last year overall. Perez impressed more and was pretty unlucky with issues during qualifying but, as exemplified again today, seems to have a talent of making the tyres last very long (he would've beaten Kamui if he didn't get in contact with Rosberg in the final lap). I can see this being an added bonus if and when he gets courted to join Alonso at Ferrari.

216

Kamui is a top driver and better than Perez it's for sure, he is also better and more exciting than Massa, Petrov, Grosjean, Rosberg, and probably a few more so yes he deserves a top drive, come on Ferrari if you need a quick driver to back up Alonso give Koba a shout he will liven up this fading team.

217

I'm not James, but I keep hearing that there is still bad stigma that the European teams have about Japanese drivers. It's probably similar to how hard it seams to get teams to scout for an American driver in F1.

I really hope he does get the chance in a top team. Imagining him with a seat at Ferrari is to incredible to believe. I would love to see it happen.

218

I'd agree KK would be good for Ferrari, but Montezemolo' has already made his mind up: it's Kubica

219

Do we think Kubica will be back?

220

Great race! The best undoubtedly button's flawless drive, showing all the Hamilton supporters the latter has a handful inside his own garage. Third season in competition between those two and button seems to have the slight upper hand. Vettel has a lot to show this year, and although his driving was uncomformist, his spinning of the track suggests that he still has a lot to learn, specially when wins don't come in a silver platter from the pole on an over dominating car. Lastly, Alonso showed the stuff he's made of,second drive of the day for me behind button''s anyway, makes you think why can't he ever get decent drives, he always punches far above the car' s weight. Disappointing Rosberg, ,and is there any doubt what rubbish massa is these days? Oh yeah and kimi offered the laugh of the day: "why are they waving blue flags at me?". I think we' re in for a vintage season, only hope scuderia Ferrari can abandon it's mediocrity.

221

Regarding Kimi and the blue flags, i think there might have been some sort of problem with the system. On the pit lane feed on the sky red button, Jenson complained a couple of times that he was getting them too.

222

As for Alonso not getting decent drives: 2005, 2006 anyone?

224

Well after all the wait what a good opening weekend, and I look forward to what the season brings. One thing I could ask though James, Toro Rosso, what a turn around. I mean considering this was Minardi where has this turn around come from, is it just the passing of information round the Red Bull table, or is there a great talent of minds in the team?

225

Hmmm, still too early to call. STR grabbed 4 points in Melbourne in 2011 - that is 2 points less than 2012.

Qualifying has improved though.

226

I mean "two points more"

STR Points in Melbourne:

2011: 4 pts

2012: 2 pts

227

A great opener for the season.

Button was sublime even when the safety car was deployed.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the race.

228

Hi James,

What do you think about Romain's incident? Pastor being a bit reckless to turn in or Romain was a bit inexperienced not to have taken avoiding action?

229

Pastor is a reckless brute with no finesse, his crash at the end of the race (glad he walked away safely) only proved this.

230

All we have to say to Romain is "This is Formula one".

231

I reckon Grosjean left him enough room, Pastor could have been a bit more careful, but there wasn't a lot in it. Pity for Grosjean, he could have been right up in the points; his lap in Q3 was awesome.

232

stupidity by grosjean , he couldn't get back past so why not avoid the accident?

233

5 of the 6 World Champions in the top 7. If Schumacher ended the race probably all Champions in top 8. Nice!

234

Button drove a brilliant race. Hamilton will bounce back. Long season ahead. Anything and everything can happen.

235

Well said Murray. I mean, Bob.

236

Totally agree

237

Spot on comment, BBob, absolutely right

238

Some impressive car performances today from Lotus and Williams but some real disappointing driving today from a few drivers not learning from past mistakes:

Idiot of the day: Pastor Maldonado – what is he thinking? Last year we saw some stupid aggressive driving and today more of the same. Romain Grosjean gave him space to overtake early in the race only for Maldonado to run him off the road and terminally damage his car. Natural justice came back to bite him towards the end of the race – but a real shame for Williams – wish them well this year.

Lack of common sense: Bruno Senna at the start – runs wide into turn one on the first lap and then thinks nothing to turn sharply back onto the track while cars are everywhere – it’s only going to end one way…

Wimp of the day: Nico Rosberg – as in the past he could drive fast in quali – but seems to fall back in races – more of the same today. Really disappointing to let Vettel through early in the race which only gives ammo to those that think Vettel can race. Maybe he needs to have a few beers with Maldonado to learn some aggression…

Thinks too much: Mark Webber – yes there was some stupid driving into the first corner on the first lap with two cars hitting him hard – but he keeps having bad starts which puts him on the back foot then is too cautious on the brakes into the first corner – this sets an impossible mission for the rest of the race – instead of fighting for the lead he’s fighting to get on the tail end of the podium.

Well done Jensen!!

239

Well Vettel's move on Rosberg was of the highest quality with a car that's much slower than the Mercedes, to brave it out on the outside there was sheer class, much like what Seb done to Alonso at Monza last year, this kid is the best driver in the world and showed Hamilton who's boss even in a slower car, also Webber did nothing wrong apart from his start. I agree Rosberg looked abit lacklustre in the race and Maldonado was to rash and threw away a good result.

240

"showed Hamilton who's boss" - oh please spare us. You should change that to 'the safety car helped Seb to a 2nd place'.

241

Oi, and who the heck changed the Australian Gp script? For Jenson emerging the victor was definitely not on the cards.

Oh well, a great race nevertheless from the Frome Flier, he's looking good for the title fight for not only has he got the Pirelli game figured out, he has also improved his qualifying with has been crucial for with a good qualifying position, it makes the win that much easier, all this from a driver that last had his last DNF as a result of a crash at Silverstone 2008.

So well done to Jens (gritted teeth) it seems we have ourselves another FINGER waving ace to give the original FINGER a run for his money.

As for Wunderkid, I really don't understand how one lucky one person can be, how is it possible for results to fall his way time after time, no doubt about it now, Vettel is the real baby Schumi.

Also I would, congratulate Lewis on his drive today for it was a great drive, never made mistakes or anything but it just one of those days, things just don't go your way e.g. from lack of pace to the safety car throwing a spanner in the works

Now am doubting if the Kaiser will get that podium for this was another day, a good chance slipped away this time a gear box failure to blame plus the Mercedes race pace is nowhere

Good on Webber for taking the monkey off his shoulder & making it past 5th place at Melbourne for the first time.

It's kind of turning into a cliché nowadays that Alonso was my driver of the day, put in another fighting performance, consistent & yet mistake free.

Also from Kimi's feisty race today, am 100% sure that we have got the old, hungry Kimi back.

It seems to me Maldondo may have potential to do great things just needs to calm down a bit though that maybe difficult with the Latin temperament and all.

It's a shame Grosjean & Hulkenberg's races ended so early, it gave me a feeling of déjà vu for the last time those two they were in the sport, both used to crash out from time to time.

Poor performances from Massa & Senna - That's all I gotta say about that duo

Anyway what this race win for Jens in Australia has done is thrown the championship wide open for this is 2010 all over again.

Now if a number 1 driver like Lewis had won the the championship then it would have been curtains on 2012 but now that trophy wife is anybody's game for if I may remind you, Jens won Melbourne in 2010 but didn't win the title.

All in all, the race was okayish, not a classic but not a dud at the same time so just it an average ranking that was just saved by the numerous shunts.

242
Mohd Azrul Che Aziz

Its good to see the domination of Redbull is over, at least at the moment.

Mercedes is looking good in the qualifying but looks not fast enough to challenge McLaren and Redbulll

243

I get the feeling the competition is 2010-esque. It will go to the wire with all 6 champions still in contention at the last race

244

I still have a lot of trouble imagining Button as being on the same level as Hamilton. Can we really consider them level pegging nowdays?

Is it mostly down to Button being kinder on tyres?

245

Well, they have both won 1 WDC (although Hamilton has won more races in a shorter time) and in the two seasons they have raced together they have both had one season on top where they have won the same amount of races (I think); so yes, we can consider them to be on the same level.

It seems that on raw pace on a Saturday afternoon Lewis has a tenth or two in hand, but JB is clearly a masterful racer with the right car.

246

Yes, we can. Button has been underrated by a lot of people for over a decade. Lewis is faster over a single qualifying lap, but Jenson is just as quick (today, a little quicker) over a race.

Jenson's main weakness is that the car must be well behaved. He doesn't seem to be able to manhandle a recalcitrant car as well as Fernando or Lewis. When the car is stable, however, he can push it right to the edge, perhaps better than anyone in F1 today.

It's a long season, though. I, for one, hope that Lewis comes back at the next race and reverses the team order. A good inter-team battle is great for F1.

247

He used to bounce back so well in 2008 - if he can get that back he is in business. However, i think even Lewis fans have moved on from the Lewis is better that Button debate - Button has spoken on the track and you cannot argue with that. The question is how will Lewis respond? One hopes Mr Cotton earns his pay check so that we have some ****-kicking wins from Ham.

248

Just totally agree

249

Great drive from button and an entertaining first race!It has been said that if Hamilton had got ahead at the beginning then he would have won but if he had the pace then he should have been challenging button but he didnt. He shouldnt be so dispondent tho as 3rd place in the 1st race isnt a disaster! Alonso did great aswell to get 5th in a ferrari which looks a nightmare to drive! Maldonado was doing great aswell and so were sauber. However, sometimes smaller teams do great at the beginning and then tail off during season as they cant continue with the developments!

I was surprised by the sky coverage...it is similar to what the beeb do but just with different people (except brundle of course). They certainly havent raised the bar like itv did when they took over from the beeb and then likewise when the beeb took it back. Theres nothing wrong with the coverage it just isnt anything special and they're is post-race analysis with georgie thompson and ant davidson that is similar to what they have with gary neville on their monday night football.

What was it like commentating for 5 live james?were you 'nervous excited' like jenson was before the race or a nervous reck lol?

Keep up the great work!

250

The Sky coverage looked great - very slick graphics etc... but the pairing of Brundle & Hill makes for very dull analysis... I'm watching the BBC post-race analysis with Humprey, EJ & DC now... much better - I love the banter between them all even if EJ can be annoying. As usual the Sky commentators take everything way too seriously - and Hill looks very cagey and uncomfortable on TV! So even though I've paid extra to get in Sky HD to watch F1... my first preference will still be the Beeb!

251

Yeah I agree. I watched the race live on skygo and there was just something missing in the post race analysis...it reminded me of steve ryder and mark blundell in the itv days, very serious and dull! I then watched the bbc highlights and you could tell the difference...EJ and DC were relaxed, the banter was going but yet they were still giving you an insight into what happened so the beeb will also be my first preference aswell!!

252

As far as the announcing it's a mix isn't it.

I'm kind of sick of the BBC team, tall guy/EJ/DC, trying so hard to make jokes and parrot Top Gear, but that Sky announcer is so brutally boring I was wishing I could change channels. I like Damon Hill but with almost an hour to fill after the race they were really struggling.

On the other hand during the race the Sky team of Brundle and Crofty were awesome. Both were able to do analysis on the fly without getting distracted by the live screens mid-story like DC always does. Whenever Brundle got stuck on a name or mixed up a teams two drivers, Murray Walker style, Croft stepped right in instantly. Great team.

We need both channels covering the races live. BBC for pre-race build up, switch over to Sky for the race and Ted in the pits, then flip back to the BBC for the post race and red button forum.

253

The bad news is that Lewis did not win. The good news is that it's Hamilton vs Button for the 2012 Formula 1 Drivers World Championship. Today reminds me of Hungary 2008 with Massa.

On tracks like this, the first corner is crucial, and the race was lost in that first corner. You can't overtake here, not among the top cars at least, not without damaging your tyres, not against your teammate, not without a mistake. From that point on, whoever was in front was to have the edge because you get the call on the first pit stop and the other drivers have no choice but to follow suit. Being kinder to your tyres helps yes, but it only makes much difference if you are ahead and get the call on when to pit first.

Cheer up Lewis! You are still the fastest driver in what apparently is the the fastest car, you will get more poll positions than Button, if you do that you will more often than not get to the first corner first, if you do that you should more often than not get to that critical first pitstop first. From there you can manage the race. Even if you get beat in qualifying, you on average have better starts than Button, so should occasionally get some payback for today. Anyone who knows Button knows he is a poorer starter compared to Lewis.

Good to see Hamilton on the medium tyre hold off Vettel on the soft tyre though. Mclaren have the faster car. Which ever driver is first to the first pit stop will have the edge because the second driver will be vulnerable to the Red Bulls. Think Vettel and Webber, Webber has the same problem. The odds still favour Lewis for 2012.

254

I think the elephant in the room has got to be that Button has a better relationship with the team than Hamilton. When Lewis was beating Button, Whitmarsh always made a point of reminding everybody that the drivers are equal and free to race. Since Button started getting ahead, that line seems to have been dropped by the team principle - that must be the scariest thing to Lewis fans because regardless of how good a driver is, winning a championship or the inter-team battle is virtually impossible; if in doubt as Alonso in 2007.

255

Well maybe Hanilton shouldn't have kept blaming and getting angry with the team last year, also maybe if he didn't go running begging for a drive to Redbull last year and get rejected his team might still respect him more, but it's good for people to finally realise Alonso was stitched up by Ron Dennis in 2007, he was never beaten by Hamilton.

256

meant virtually impossible without the team principals support; if in doubt ask Alonso in 2007.

257

Jenson beat Lewis fair and square. He got the better start, was faster, including fastest lap, and controlled the whole race from the front. Give the guy credit.

258

Man of the day for me is Kimi Raikkonen

without a doubt

the best overtake action in the race between him and massa

can't wait for malaysia

259

No doubt about it. From the Kimi-Massa battle standpoint of view, it was 'On Your Face Ferrari' by Kimi.

It screamed to Ferrari "Hey you backed the wrong driver and you fired the wrong driver".

I would've loved to see Kimi behind Alonso, It would've been Monumental. It would've screamed "Hey you chose this guy over me?" n' "I am still your last World Champion".

Would want this to happen before Ferrari develop their cars, for no one has more resources than Ferrari in this regard.

Its quite shocking coming from a Ferrari fan such as myself, but then again, what they did to Kimi was utterly inhuman, so it would've been a good retribution 🙂

260

Well done JB! Bad luck Lewis the season is long!

261

james - the safety car period was a bit of a shambles. the lead cars were weaving and made it difficult for the backmarkers to unlap themselves.

i'm not looking forward to mercedes using their straigtline speed advantage to qualify well and then drop down the field during the race and acting like a mobile chicane. a lot of drivers are going to be desperate to get in front of the mercs by the first corner lest their race be ruined.

reminds me of the 70's when ferrari had the v12 and blew everybody away on the straights and then held everyone up in the corners.

262

+ 1!

What does it help if they qualify in the top 4 and then drop down in the race??? You cant win the race on a saturday.

263

Excellent race! I hope that will shut up all the 'Button can't win in the dry' fans.

We're in for an awesome season.

264

button is a good driver... no doubt about it

lets talk in November if he is 'great'

265

Superb drive by Button; never seriously challenged. I reckon his better pace would have seen him past Hamilton even without the first corner overtake. I wonder what made him faster?

266

Confidence, good tyre management and a higher level of skill imho...

267

as a williams fan, gutted by pastor's last lap crash. williams quicker than ferrari, never expected that. great race, looks very close throughout the field.

268

If they were quicker they would have been infront. only rb abd mcl were faster than ferrari. Bad for little teams whilst Ferrari are down, still only rb and mcl are infront of them.

269

Great drive from JB! A well deserved win - he was totally in control - two laps that defined the race - when he pulled away from LH from the start, and when he strode away from SV after the restart. LH looks ordinary and he seems to have lost favor at Maclaren. There were similar situations last year when JB found himself behind LH and JB could undercut with pit strategy. It seemed yesterday that MacLaren were trying hard to not disturb JB's advantage even as SV was closing in on LH.

And a great drive from FA - he never seems to give up - 5th was atleast a few places ahead of where the car deserved to be. Meanwhile Massa continues the embarrassment for Ferrari on the field.

270

Maybe Mercedes know the goings on in McLaren and see an opportunity to get him on the cheap. Sooner or later Lewis is going to find out what the rest of us already know that he no longer is allowed to race Button and a Mercedes drive at same pay would just be as good as a McLaren drive - looks like the two teams will do an exchange of champions

271

Impressive victory from Button and McLaren. He really outperfromed Hamilton, which I wasn't expecting. Despite last season, I still think Hamilton is a better driver than Button. Only one race down, but so far Button is proving me wrong.

Not sure why Hamilton looked so miserable on the podium. Obviously he would have wanted to win today, but he has started the season with a podium, there's 19 races to go and the McLaren looks to be the car to beat. Worth a smile maybe?

The Red Bulls race pace seemed much better, and Vettel drove well for second place. But the car does seem vunrable on straight line speed. If they can't qualify on pole and pull away like last season, I think this will hurt them in races this season. Especially on tracks like Malaysia.

Alonso performed his usual heroics in a Ferrari that seems to get worse every season. He was even up with Vettal in the early stages of the race, but as the fuel level came down the Ferrari seemed to get worse. They really need give Alonso a car worthy of his talent. But I don't see that happening this season.

Overall, not a bad start to the season. Things seem to be much closer between Red Bull McLaren anyway. Still not sure what happened to Merc, but they seem have good straight line speed. Maybe their F-duct will give the advantage in Malaysia.

272

James

Has Williams seen the evidence today for their decision of drivers with little experience over a Rubens Barrichello or a Sutil who can bag the points.

273

I will agree that Senna shouldn't be there, but he bought the dollars with him.

Maldonado on the other hand was all over the Ferrari and clearly had better pace.

He was unfortunate because he was pushing, it could have happened to anyone, and at least he didn't take Alonso out on the last lap trying to do a stupid pass.

I think Williams are onto a good thing with Maldonado, he looks like a legitimate racer, and I am really exicted to see how he does over the course of the season.

You can't write him off after one mistake on the last lap whilst trying to pass a slower car. If it happens a couple more times before race 7, then you can bag him out.

274

Button the best he has ever looked

Vettel shows how to pull a not top car up

Kimi and Alonso both make the best of poor qualy situations

I very much enjoyed race 1

275

Alonso deserves a bonus for getting that lame Ferrari home in 5th place!

276

+ 1! I get more and more respect for Alonso after every race he outperforms his car. He really deserves a better drive. To finish 5th in that Ferrari, was the drive of the day!!!!

277

It was the usual suspects that highlighted in the Australian GP. The drivers of the day had to be Button and Vettel. Mclaren looked unbeatable, simply astonishing in terms of the overall package. Button as well all know manages tires better so he was the favorite going into today's race. Hamliton was victim of Pirelli degradation characteristics. I think the Gung-ho-White-Knucklers like Kimi, Hamilton are going to suffer tremendously in this Pirelli era.

In this era, the driver who is a better manager of tires will prevail. So, whenever these two opposites will meet it will be the driver who is a better tire manager will win while the white-knucklers will brief glory in qualifying.

That is what makes Vetel so dangerously competitive, he is the perfect combination of the both, his white-knuckling in Monza last year while overtaking was the move of the year.

So, Hamilton is not to be blamed here, it is only that the current characteristics of formula one has taken the initiative from white-knucklers to conservatives.

Anyway, the best moment of the race was Kimi on the radio "why are they showing me the blue flags?".

278

I agree that Lewis may suffer with Pirelli tires, but AFAIK, Kimi has always been quite a smooth driver and good at taking care of his tires, to the point that part of his difficulties at Ferrari, as compared to Massa, was that his driving style did not heat the tires fast enough.

280

I agree completely, it is down to the team select the worthy driver of the two and build the car around him. That is what Ross Brawn did with Michael and is doing it again for the third time. The Mercedes is being developed around Michael and ferocity of Michael in qualifying and during practice indicated so, even in the early part of the race it was evident that he had the car to his liking but the overall package needs sorting out further, and all the sorting will be done in accordance to Michael's tastes. From all this it is evident that Michael is expected to renew the contract for another two years.

Sorry, to have drifted from a point a little. What I intend to establish is that Teams need to focus around a single prime driver, Benetton did that with Michael, Ferrari did that with Michael, Mercedes is doing that with Michael, Redbull is doing that with Vettel and Ferrari are now doing it with Alonso. Mclaren however,does not classify in this category for this is the only team that can manage to build their cars around both the drivers. But, other teams must concentrate on the single driver, Ferrari backed the wrong driver in 2008 and 2009 by building the car around Massa and we all know what happened, eventhough he missed out on WDC by a single point to Hamilton, it was by no means a domination that would've been possible if they had developed the car around Kimi.

Still Kimi is the last World Champion for Ferrari and it looks its going to take some doing for Alonso to be that, since the management change at the Ferrari from Jean Todt it is not been the same team. Jean Todt knew how to back the right driver, Stefano is no match for Jean... Period.

So the teams should concentrate on single driver backing.

281

looks like Ferrari are landing Alonso with the same problem, even though he is [helping them develop the car] to his taste. Still suffering in quali. Seems the heavy fuel load helps heat the tyres in the race?? or am I wrong?

282

Disappointed for Lewis, always thought if he had the car under him he would be hard to beat. I feel even if he had have got away infront of Jenson, Jenson easily had the pace on Lewis today. I don't think it's any coincidence that the first season Lewis gets beaten by a team mate is the season that the tyres become more fragile and outright speed isn't so important. It's something I feel that no matter how much Mclaren develop the car is always going to be the case. Are the pirelli tyres are the reason Jenson has the upper hand in your opinion James or is there other issues for Lewis?

283

Let's be real here - are these tyres slowing down Lewis or is Lewis just a slowere driver? If he has always been a slower driver, why did it take him until last year to be beaten by a team mate for the first time in his career? If its the tyres, isn't tyre saving a skill he can learn?

284

And why did he set such a stunning lap in quali?

285

Hi james

I think JB's car was marginally better set up for him for the race judging by the way Lewis couldn't quite match his pace however hard he tried - perhaps he's got the better team around him in the garage thanks to his increasing influence at McClaren and the respect he's mustered there - but the way he dictated Lewis' race once he got the advantage after the start showed just how intelligent and calculating he is. A well deserved victory all in all.

Anyway, best of race of the year so far!!

286

Stunning laps were delivered by both the Mclaren drivers which indicates that its the car, yes it was a stunning lap by Lewis until Button pulled a stunner to bring down the differential.

287

I think Lewis's main issue at the moment is his team mate is as quick as him for more laps on the same set of tyres...

288

Actually, I think LH's main issue is protecting those new teeth of his... j/k. LH will find a way to balance that car in heavy fuel load by race 3 similar to JB, but still mighty result despite some inefficiencies so far.

289

Wow, what a great start to the f1 season. Had the pleasure of watching today's race from above rosbergs pitbox. The biggest impression I got from today was redbulls lack of straight line speed is really going to hurt them this year. Now without their EBD superiority through the corners, any small gains they seemed to make around the lap, slipped away on the straight. Does anyone know why they can't at least get the same speed as the other Renault engined cars in a straight line?

The mclarens look v. fast, vettel was lucky to jump Hamilton under safety, ferrari looks a different car in race trim(@ least in fernandos hands), hopefully Mercedes & lotus can get a bit more amongst it in future races & we should be in for a cracking season!

290

On the onboard camera you could hear that the Red Bulls hit the rev limiter on the straights, suggesting that they had a short 7th. gear (acceleration over speed). This was especially noticeable when their DRS was activated.

291

I think the fact that the off throttle exhaust blowing has been banned will play into Buttons hands very well. This weekend has shown a lot of drivers need to learn how to corner again, Button has nailed it.

As he said at the end "Welcome 2009" - I don't think we saw the true pace of the Mclaren in his hands today.

292

Hate the headline - "Bragging Rights"....

293

Certainly something that BBC tv cannot claim.

I woke up halfway through James live coverage this morning, which was excellent, and I was looking forward to the tv highlights. But I was disappointed:

No sparkle, no excitement no buzz from the tv team. No grid walk, no FIA post race conference. Lee was still gorgeous, but even more funereal in tone than usual, Jake DC and EJ tried their best, but the BBC team had been demoted to the outback, perhaps to be out of sight of the sky team. Maybe it was a new director or producer, but it does not fill me with anticipation for Malaysia. It was like an energy saving bulb instead of a 100Watt.

294

The viewing figures will speak for themselves!

295

I know, it's just the first race, and is Button trying to prove a point to a certin someone?

296

But as far as the inter-team battle goes, it's pretty apt. Hamilton is one of Button's main rivals this season; today's result will be a massive psychological blow to Lewis.

297

Who could wish for anything more ?

298

Great opening race week end. So many good performances today up and down the grid. Button was faultless, Vettle a little lucky with the sc but he put himself there. Hamilton will feel he could have done better. Kimi showed that he rightly belongs in F1. Williams' performance today was promising, it surely seems

a great start for the season, even if no points were taken. Today McLaren was the best team by a distance. Lotus showed a better pace than Mercedes today and could be competing for second best team early on this season. Red bull will be working hard on their concept but it won't happen by next week or the GP after that. Ferrari have worries and they probably did not think that they would be fighting with williams and yet looking the slower car. Alonso did shine regardless. it just shows once again the type of competitor he is. Vergne should still be pleased with his first race showing, 11th is not the finish he deserved on the day and I will look at him a bit more closely in the next few races. So glad the season is on and it looks promising. Marc

299

Massa has a new crash partner!

300

While it may still early days to stick one neck out, but one can sense that button is perhaps emerged as the leader at the Mclaren. The RB8, were effecient, cutting their losses, a podium finish and points too. Alonso, though not my favorite, nursed the ferrari into points, and Massa, would only set the tounges to wag. But the clear disappointment were the mercedes. The gear box failiure of Michael, and Rosberg again not scoring points....is it lack of race pace or was it tyre degreadation, what was it?

301

James, could you shed some light on Alonso's lack of pace after the safety car? Don't tell me Ferrari are still struggling with getting warmth into their tyres?? They had this issue last year and if they still have it now its absurd... Even the Williams was faster.

302

They've had the heat in tyre issue for more than 4 years now.

303

-- The ferrari [pullrod suspension] is very unstable when running light..

304

Best drive of the day was Fernando especially since he was in a grocery kart

305

I think Fernando did incredibly well and there is no doubting his talent, but I think if more cars would have finished, he would have be A LOT further down the standings.

No doubt he has skill, but luck also played a massive part in him getting that place with the car yesterday.

306

+1

307

Poor old Massa must be toast after this one.

The RB's seemed more competitive as the day wore on. Maybe they handle better when lighter or maybe when there's more mechanical grip from the rubber.

Safety car was on waay longer than need be. It just can't take *that long to move a car. Hamilton got snookered by it *this time.

Mercedes disappoints, again.

308
Cesar Rodriguez

Congratulations to the most underrated, critizised and humilliated driver in F1 history! I still see people now starting to say the McLaren is now favoring Button! OMG!! There will be always someone saying that Button is not the best driver. They always say...Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel...and so forth! Jenson is the most complete driver in the paddock...period! Malaysia suits him so be prepared...he archieved his goal when he came to Macca...to beat the best in the same car...now he will be the champion again!

309

People started saying McLaren was favoring button in 2010 - where have you been? It started right after he took Hamiltons engineers and mechanics. Button is a good driver but to try and pretend that he is not McLaren's favorite is abit much.

310

Did Button really take Hamilton's engineers and mechanics? Why/how did that come about?

311

Thanks Steve Mc!

312

No, McLaren had a reshuffle because they promote Phil Prew (Lewis's race engineer) to chief engineer overseeing performance on both sides of the garage. In 2010, JB's engineer, Jacob, had a long, long illness of some description, which meant Jenson had two or three different race engineers during the season (including Prew for one race if I remember correctly) but he didn't complain about anything and just got on with it.

313
Cesar Rodriguez

BTW...James predicted this victory too. You got it James!

314

What a shame Schmuacher went out, loved to see him fight with Alonso. Great race, 2012 will be an intense year, mark my words!

315

Great race, well done Jenson!

Hopefully Ferrari will bounce back after the Asian part of the championship, and I have a feeling that Red Bull won't let McLaren have it all that easy.

316

great race! welcome back F1...

Well done Jenson, Vettell, Alonso, Webber.

Gutting for Hamilton, Maldanado.

Can't wait for Malaysia.

317

i think its worth pointing out that when Jenson won the Oz GP in 2010, it was'nt the first race of the season...Bahrain was the first race that year....so hopefully, another 2009 is on the cards., but with a better second half of the season...go on Jenson!!!

318

It seems that Button is getting better and better. A really mature, confident drive.

Can't wait for Malaysia to see if the running order changes and if Kimi can get into the top 5.

319

I am pleasantly surprised by the pace of the Williams. If it goes that far in the hands of Maldonado, imagine what would happen if they'd have a top driver...?

320
Pasquale Mendoza

A bone to pick with you James.

I watched the BBC's show today, and was pleasantly surprised by how extended the highlights were. This is the first time in a decade that I have not seen a race in its entirity though, and the reason...

No, it wasn't that I couldn't watch the Sky coverage - It was because I relied on your countdown timer when setting my alarm. I had quite a late night, and at 2.45am your timer said there were 4hr 15mins to the race. I duly set my alarm 4 hours later, only to find that I'd missed the best part of an hour's racing.

Luckily I was able to catch back up on a bit of sleep, but it is the last time I trust your countdown timer when planning my viewing - lesson learned.

321

Really sorry about that. I'll get it checked out and corrected

322

Fantastic race, felt Hamilton gave Button way too much space at the start even with a poor start, he should have covered him much better, but I'm sure he'll bounce back.

A fantastic job by the Williams, great job by Maldonado but so unlucky on the final lap. Thought Senna had no luck, whacked on the first corner then forced to retire becasue I believe of Massa's mistake. Bruno had the momentum and going round the outside of Felipe