The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


Sports headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 4:55 p.m.

McLaren's Button wins F1 Australian GP

MELBOURNE, Australia — McLaren driver Jenson Button won the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, taking the checkered flag Down Under for the third time in four years.
Button beat reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull by 2.1 seconds after the race turned into a 17-lap shootout after Vitaly Petrov stopped on the main straight, bringing out the safety car.
Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was third, just ahead of local hope Mark Webber of Red Bull.
With a strong performance, McLaren showed it had closed the gap on the Red Bull team which dominated 2011, and set the stage for a more competitive season.
"It was an amazing day," Button said. "Starting the year strong for this team is really important. The past two years for us have been tricky for us coming into the first race. It points us in a great position for the next few races and on the right foot."
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth, with Williams' Pastor Maldonado crashing hard into a wall on the final lap while on the tail of the Spaniard.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi overtook Maldonado for sixth, and teammate Sergio Perez was eighth after starting 22nd, last on the grid. They were separated by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.
Toro Rosso's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth, and registered points in his first home race, by overtaking teammate Jean-Eric Vergne on the final sequence of corners. Vergne was shuffled to 11th, with Force India's Paul di Resta taking the last points-paying position in 10th.
Button got off the line better than Hamilton and immediately took the lead, which eventually grew to 11.8 seconds on lap 23 of 58. That lead was negated when Petrov stopped on the main straight.
"The biggest problem was the safety car. As soon as the safety car comes out and its six o'clock in the evening, its difficult to keep temperature in the tires," Button said. "I was a little on edge, but I was able to keep the heat in the tires."
Button mastered the restart, opening a 3.5-second lead on Vettel after just one lap and comfortably holding on for victory.
Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton thanks to a clever piece of Red Bull strategy, holding off on a pit stop as Hamilton went in, and taking over second behind the safety car. The German was tacked onto the back of Button, and it appeared he could pull off a victory that had seemed McLaren's for the taking.
"I thought I would be in a good position to have a shot at Jenson but I didn't," Vettel said. "He was too quick — two corners and he was gone."
"There was no way we could have stayed with him — he completely deserved to win today."
A downcast Hamilton saw little to be enthused about with his finish.
"It was a bit of a tough day, but there's plenty more races to do so I just have to keep my head up," he said. "It was still a positive to come here with good pace and hopefully we can take that on to the next race."
Lotus' Romain Grosjean started a surprise third, but was shuffled back quickly after a poor start and by lap three he was gone after breaking his right front axle bumping wheels with Maldonado.
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher was third for the first nine laps but ran wide over the grass at turn one under pressure from Vettel, and soon after retired with a gear problem.
"We've never had an issue with the gearbox all winter long, so it's a bit strange," the seven-time world champion said. "But they're prototype cars, you can never have total reliability."
Story tags » NASCAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.



HeraldNet highlights

Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (8 new photos)
A new breed of berries
A new breed of berries: Blueberry and raspberry plants that are ideal for Northwest
10 critical plays
10 critical plays: Aside from ‘the interception,’ other events also cost...
A future recreation station
A future recreation station: Skate park, playgrounds coming to Cavelero Hill
SnoCoSocial