Button wins Australian Grand Prix from Vettel

Button wins Australian Grand Prix from Vettel

McLaren's Jenson Button won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, beating Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull into second place, dpa reported.

World champion Vettel prevented the McLaren team from starting the season with a one-two as he finished between Button and the Briton's team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole.

As he drove over the line, Button thanked his team. "The car is beautiful and very quick, thanks guys," he said over the team radio.

Button won the start from his team-mate and took over first place from Hamilton by the first corner and then proceeded to put some distance between him and his team-mate.

By the 10th lap this distance was up to three seconds.

Behind the two McLarens, Michael Schumacher was holding on to third place but was under pressure from Vettel, who had moved up from sixth at the start.

The seven-time world champion Schumacher then developed a gear problem which led him to run wide and soon afterwards had to withdraw.

The German said he was still able to take some positives from the race. "I have an optimistic outlook for the season. I was hoping to be able to get Mercedes' first podium, but as I was breaking going into a corner I noticed that there was a problem and I ran wide."

Another early casualty was Romain Grosjean in a Lotus, who sensationally started from third, but was involved in a collision early on and pulled out of the race.

After the first pit stops Button managed to easily stay in front and then benefited as Hamilton and Vettel were held up by the Sauber of Sergio Perez, who started from last place after incurring a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, but was one of the last to go into the pits and as a result temporarily found himself in second place.

Once Hamilton and Vettel passed the Mexican, they attempted to close the gap on Button, but failed to do so.

With 20 laps remaining, the safety car had to come out as Vitaly Petrov pulled out of the race and his Caterham had to be removed from the track.

This allowed Vettel to make a quick pit stop to change his tyres for the final time and, more importantly, allowed him back on to the track ahead of Hamilton.

Behind them the remaining field lacked the speed to catch up with the three leaders and it was only towards the end that there was more drama as Williams' Pastor Maldonado, who was lying sixth, crashed into the wall on the final round.

Another last-minute casualty was the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who was overtaken by several drivers on the final round after trying to overtake Perez and as a result slipped out of the points positions.

Fourth place went to Red Bull's Mark Webber, who is still waiting for his first podium place in his home race.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took fifth, while Kamui Kobayashi in a Sauber took sixth place. Returnee Kimi Raikkonen, who has returned to the sport from retirement, took his Lotus into seventh place, with Perez a good eighth.

The final two points positions went to Daniel Ricciardo in a Torro Rosso and Force India's Paul Di Resta.

The next race is the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 25.

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