On The Button In Melbourne

Jensen Button
Image by Nelson Wu via Flickr

Who could have called this result ? Jensen Button drives a shrewd race to win the Australian Grand Prix today in Melbourne, assisted by an incident-laden afternoon down under. Sebastian Vettel looked like a winner from pole, staying clear of a few shunts at the start but ultimately succumbing to a repeat of the brake failure that saw his demise during the Bahrain race. The race was not handed to Button, who bravely came in early to switch back to slicks on a track that was barely beginning to dry out. The World Champion slip-slided out of the pits, did a brief bit of mowing the verge before settling down and taking the lead as the field scrambled to switch tyres 3 laps later.

McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton showcased his abilities after a terrible qualifying session yesterday, bringing his car back from 11th on the grid to 3rd and challenging Kubica for 2nd before a disastrous decision to pit for a tyre change. Once again the smart money was on this being the correct move, as the tyres went off for the rest of the field. It was not to be as the occasional damp, off-line parts of the track assisted tyre longevity. Hamilton drove beautifully to bring himself back behind the Ferraris, wasted time whinging on the radio to his crew and crying about the news tyres going off in the bad air behind Alonso. True that the stop cost him a podium and, arguably, a win but the otherwise respectable 6th was useful and a relief given he was t-boned off by a charging Mark Webber; the Red Bull driver clearly frustrated at not being higher up the field in his home GP.

Not much showing from Schumacher as he continues to find his racing legs. Great result for Renault with Kubica in 2nd; Massa looking very unsteady but managing to stay ahead of Alonso but only just. Terribly nice chap Heikki Kovalainen looked relaxed and happy, leading the so-called second tier of Cosworth-powered new teams – good to see him continuing in Formula One.

Vastly more entertaining racing despite a middling BBC coverage. Jake Humphrey continues to mature and helms well, assisted by David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, keeping the comment and news around the actual race relatively bright and interesting. Radio-hack Legard continues to be a massive irritation, only partially relieved by the presence of Brundle, as this muppet continues to present a masterclass in stating the bleeding obvious and demonstrating a penchant for football-commentator-style incoherence when he finally realises that something of note has happened on the track. Bloody awful and totally detracts from an otherwise pro package from Auntie.

Congratulations to Jensen Button. Thoroughly deserved win from cool tactics, mature decisions and a characteristically smooth drive. Completely vindicates CEO Martin Whitmarsh’s recruitment drive to nab him from Brawn, against the general opinion (including mine!). Great stuff.

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