The Year of the Champions is under way with a Button win in Albert Park, Melbourne. Vettel and Hamilton joined him on the podium with Webber a close fourth.
Great win for the 2009 world champion. The dynamics in the McLaren team seem to have stayed the same. Button is obviously in a very good place mentally, Hamilton - not so much. Button managed to snatch the lead even before the first corner. After that, besides a brief spell behind the safety car, no car was even close to him in the race. Jenson leads the champtionship for the first time in two years.
Sebastian had a pretty bad (especially for his standards) qualification yesterday and managed only a six place on the start. A good start and pitting immediately after the safety car went out (to allow the stewards to remove Petrov's Catheram that was parked on the start lane) helped Sebastian to gain a second place in the race. Sebastian could not really challenge Button for the victory but he did a great job to stay ahead of Hamilton in the final 15 laps. Vettel was obviously very happy to get on the podium, despite not winning.
Nothing seems to have changed in Ferrari as well. Nando is again driving the car 1 second and 5 positions further than it should have been. Still not enought for a podium but finishing 5th from 12th in qualification is almost a victory with this Ferrari car. Alonso did a great job at the start to launch himself in the front but at the end of the race was struggling to keep Maldonaldo before the Scot smashed his Williams in a spectacular fashion in the last lap.
Great return for the "eloquent" Finn. After starting from P17, Maldonaldo + Perez + Rosberg's accidents in the last lap saw him finish in 7. While teammate Grosjean outperformed Kimi on Saturday, the champion for 2007 showed that he still has the intensity to be a factor in Formula 1. I take back my words from yesterday - Kimi is definitely at a better place now. He seems somewhat cooler. If this is even possible for a driver called Iceman.
Lewis is back with Nicole but the 2008 Hamilton is still MIA. He started the Melbourn race from the pole but managed only third at the end. His body language on the podium was very negative in contrast with Button's and Vettel's. It feels that Lewis is mentally still in the last season. Regretfully, he could not really launch an attack on Button once Jenson got the better of him on the race towards the first corner. It also seems that the good friendly atmosphere from 2010-2011 in McLaren might be vanishing as Jenson regularly outperforms the not-so-young-anymore prodigy.
After the great qualification yesterday, the silver arrows could not even snatch a point in Melbourne. Despite a great start that saw Michael and Nico launch themselves into third and fourth, respectively, Mercedes underpeformed in the opening race of the season. Schumacher retired early after a gear box problem, while Rosberg lost a position in the points because of a last lap accident with Perez. Very unlucky but it was also evident at the beginning of the race that Brawn's team still does not have the pace to really compete with McLaren and Red Bull.
What is your take on the first race of the F1 season? Please post in the comments below.
If you liked this post, you might also appreciate my review of the Australian GP qualification, my season 2012 preview, and my review of the new motorsport show The Grid.
Here are the final results of the race:
Copyright: Formula 1: Official Website