Formula One isn’t boring… – that’s the message from Australia where Jenson Button stormed to victory down under in an action packed and eventful grand prix that will silence all the critics of the 2010 F1 season. The podium had Felipe Massa in third, just behind Robert Kubica in second with Jenson on the top step. The final finishing order:
Jenson Button was rightly chuffed to pieces in the driver press conference saying “it just felt right” but before the lights went out today no one would have predicted such a podium. Moments before the lights went out at Albert Park, the sky grew darker and rain fell on the previously sun-soaked track.
It was to be a trip into the unknown for many of the drivers – starting a grand prix with cars full of fuel on damp track with intermediate tyres, but not surprisingly the ever impressive Sebastien Vettel took the lead from pole position, while behind him Felipe Massa had a awesome start to go up to second while his team mate Alonso spun after chopping across Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher was almost collected by Alonso in the incident, but escaped with a damaged front wing.
Only a few corners later and the safety car was deployed following a massive incident caused by a kamikaze effort from Kobayashi which caused him to heavily collide with Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastien Buemi. The sequence of events was triggered from the Japanese driver damaging his front wing which left him powerless and lucky not to have an even bigger shunt.
Once the race resumed so did Formula One, the sport we know and love with over taking opportunities being made at every corner and some terrific battles alongside some silly mistakes causing the order to change continuously in the tricky inconsistent conditions. Brilliant news for this grand prix and brilliant news for F1 as a sport.
After two laps with no more rain falling, the reigning champion shocked the entire paddock of teams and engineers, including his own pit crew by making the snap judgement call to come into the pits for dry tyres. While everyone else stuck to the intermediate tyres and watched the risk-taking McLaren with interest, Jenson took to the gravel, appearing to be struggling massively with very little grip.
By the next lap the champion lit up the timing boards with an almighty lap and prompted almost everyone else to pit for the dry tyres. There were many winners and losers here as drivers had to wait for a clear exit from their pit garage. Both Red Bull drivers stayed out a little longer, Webber lost out massively at this point.
After all the pit stops the race looked to settle down a little bit, until we lost sight of Vettel, only to find him buried a gravel trap following a brake failure leaving Jenson to pick up the lead. The young German will be wondering what he can do – two races, two pole positions, but the number of points of all the new teams combined.
With drivers starting on intermediate tyres and changing to dry tyres there was no need to use two different compounds and Jenson looked pretty safe up front in the lead. That said, the Ferraris of Massa and Fernando behind the super impressive Kubica in a Renault were not too far away and then further down the field, Lewis Hamilton was putting in some stonking lap times and battling Mark Webber. Lewis came in for fresh tyres only to come out and end up stuck behind the Ferrari duo for the remaining laps with the local hero on his rear wing.
With only a handful of laps left, Hamilton was looking racey and looked to make a move on Fernando Alonso for 4th, it wasn’t going to work, he backed out of it, but Webber following closely could do nothing but take out the 2008 champion.
Jenson Button was left to run to the chequered flag first and pick up his second victory in Australia with a superb performance that sent a firm warning to Lewis that he isn’t at McLaren to be the number 2 driver. Despite having the race of a lifetime, Hamilton was whining about strategy calls and looking very upset with the team. We’ll look at this more later, but it could be the first sign of another team-mate related upset at McLaren.
Badger’s heart goes out to Mark Webber who left the Australian Grand Prix with another poor result – he claimed the fastest lap of the day, but never had a shot at victory. There was plenty more action further down the grid and a massively underwhelming performance from a certain seven time world champion – stay tuned to Badger for the full race reaction in a little while…