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Australian Grand Prix – Button’s Strategy Wins Out

by F1Fan on March 28, 2010

Well the Australian Grand Prix was anything but boring today. Bahrain for all its glitz and amenities is no match for the venerable Albert Park Circuit, this race was how a Formula One race should be, full of incident, overtaking and strategy.

Albert Park is always a difficult low traction circuit, throw in the intermittent rain that we had today and look out. Even with the exceedingly difficult slippery conditions the drivers didn’t hold back, driving at ten tenths, sometimes to their own peril, but it sure did make for an exciting race.

Even before the start some teams were having problems, Jarno Trulli’s Lotus was pushed back into the garage from the grid after the warm up lap never to emerge again, Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi in the Virgin VR-01’s didn’t even make the grid and started from pit lane.

As the cars were on the grid the rain started and all of the teams changed to intermediate wet tires for the start.

Weber and Alonso had a terrible start both suffering heavy wheel spin and Felipe Massa made the most of the situation taking second position behind Vettel coming out of the first corner. Behind Massa Fernando Alonso came together with Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher, Button was lucky to stay on track and not suffer any damage but Alonso spun and hit the Mercedes GP car of Michael Schumacher, damaging Schumachers front wing and causing Schumi to return to the pits for a new wing. Amongst all of this mayhem Robert Kubica took advantage and shot from 9th to 4th behind Mark Webber. Alonso was really lucky in that no-one hit him when he was facing the wrong way on track but he lost many positions before he could turn around.

Later that same lap just as things seemed to be settling down Kamui Kobayashi’s front wing came off his car sending him into the wall at high speed, out of control he slid back onto the track, taking out Sebastien Buemi and Nico Hulkenberg who most likely had no idea what the hell happened to them, before the remains of Kobayashi’s BMW Sauber buried itself into the tire barrier.

So not even one lap down and 4 cars already out of the race, Trulli, Kobayashi, Buemi and Hulkenberg with Michael Schumacher having to replace his front wing.

The next few laps were behind the Safety car with the race restarting on lap five, at the restart the order was: 1 SV, 2 FM, 3 MW, 4 RK, 5 NR, 6 JB, 7 LH 8 AS, 9 RB, 10 VP (who made a great start from 18th on the grid) ,11 PDLR, 12 TL.

Just after the restart Webber gets around Massa, so it looks like Red Bull have the race in hand and Button slips to seventh as his team mate hamilton manages to overtake him.

Then with the track just starting to dry, Button dives in to the pits on Lap 7 to change to slick tires, a gutsy move which initially looked like it was going to be his downfall as Button button slid wide in turn 3 after re-entering the track, but as soon as he got his tires up to temperature he was substantially quicker than everyone else on track.

Almost everyone came in on Lap 9 except for the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webbr with Vettel coming in on Lap 10 and Webber lap 11, that extra lap for webber cost him a bunch of positions, While Vettel managed to come out still in first place an off in turn 3 for Webber after he left the pits dropped him to 6th.

As all this was happening Button already on slicks moved up to second position by lap 11.

Then it was the turn of Fernando Alonso to show some pace, rocketing through the field up to eigth place by lap 15.
Lap 16 Webber overtakes Massa and Hamilton tucks in behind also over taking Massa and then passes Webber, but Webber fights back touching Hamilton as they go through the next corner side by side and Massa retakes the position from both drivers. Just brilliant racing.

Throughout all this Sebastian Vettel was in a class all by himself building a substantial lead while the rest of the field from third back were fighting for position. Everything looked set for Vettel to win the race until lap 26th when suddenly Vettel was off, beached in the gravel. Talking about the incident after the race Vettel said:

“I felt that something was wrong one lap earlier than I went off. I had some sparks coming up from the front left wheel; we didn’t know what it was and so wanted to pit. Then, a couple of corners before, I had huge vibrations building up and as soon as I touched the brakes, I had some sort of failure going in to Turn 13 and ended up in the gravel. There was nothing I could have done, I lost the car and that was it. It’s a shame as I think we had the race in total control at every stage, even though the conditions were difficult. But to win you have to finish. It breaks my balls not to get the win, but there’s still a long way to go in this Championship. We’re working hard to get on top the reliability issues and we hope to have a solid race and see the chequered flag in Malaysia.”

After inheriting first place Button drove the rest of the race brilliantly controlling the race, his smooth style allowing him to extract the best from his tires even after some 50 odd laps, while Lewis Hamilton who had changed to a new set of Slicks on lap 35 was complaining that his tires had already gone off.

In the final laps Hamilton with Webber right behind was reeling in the Ferrari’s of Alonso and Massa at around 1.8 seconds per lap, finally catching Alonso with just a few laps to go. Unfortunately on lap 57 Webber misjudged his braking and drove into the rear of Hamilton who was balked by Alonso as he was trying to pass. Both Webber and Hamilton spun off into the gravel trap but managed to keep going with Hamilton loosing one position to Nico Rosberg while Webber lost his front wing and had to pit ending up loosing three positions.

Australian Grand Prix Results (Top Ten)

PositionDriver
Nationality
DriverTeamGrand Prix
Points
1GBJenson ButtonMcLaren25
2PolandlRobert KubicaRenault F118
3BrazilFelipe MassaFerrari15
4SpainFernando AlonsoFerrari12
5GermanyNico RossbergMercedes GP10
6GBLewis HamiltonMcLaren8
7ItalyVitantonio LiuzziForce India6
8BrazilRubens BarrichelloWilliams4
9AustraliaMark WebberRed Bull Racing2
10GermanyMichael SchumacherMercedes GP1
last updated Mar 28, 2010
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