Melbourne: McLaren’s Jenson Button stormed to victory in the Formula One’s season opening Australian Grand Prix here Sunday while Paul di Resta grabbed 10th place for Sahara Force India on the final lap of an action-packed race.
Button got past teammate and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap and drove a flawless race for his third win at Albert Park in the last four attempts. Defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull crossed the chequered flag 2.2 seconds behind Button while Hamilton finished third. Mark Webber was fourth in the second Red Bull, his best finish at home.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso showed again why he was one of the best in the business, coming home fifth after starting 12th on the grid.
Iceman Kimi Raikkonen, making his return to F1 with Lotus, jumped to seventh from 17th while Sauber’s Sergio Perez came eighth from the last grid position.
There was some chaos at the 58-lap race as six drivers, including Nico Hulkenberg, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov retired while Pastor Maldonando crashed his Williams on the wall in the dying moments of the race to let go of his sixth place to be classified as 13th.
While Hulkenberg’s race ended after the opening lap tangle, di Resta was lucky to get a point after running out of the top-10 until the final lap. Maldonado’s accident helped Scot make the cut as he overtook Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne a couple of corners before the finishing line. It also ensured a ninth place for local favourite Daniel Ricciardo, who secured two points in his first appearance for Toro Rosso.
HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa were barred from the field as they failed to qualify Saturday.
There was only a single Safety Car period during the race.