Button revels in 'amazing' win after romping to glory in 2012 curtain raiser Down Under
12:06 GMT, 18 March 2012
Jenson Button has hailed his Australian Grand Prix victory as an 'amazing way to start the season'.
The McLaren star led the 2012 Formula One curtain raiser from start-to-finish after leapfrogging a slow-starting Lewis Hamilton off the line.
Centre of attention: Button was delighted after winning in Melbourne
On the Button: Jenson celebrates after romping to victory in Melbourne
Button won by 2.1 seconds from reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel after the race was turned into a 17-lap shootout following the late emergence of the safety car. Pole-sitter Hamilton was third, just ahead of home favourite Mark Webber.
The result indicated that McLaren had closed the gap on Red Bull, who dominated 2011, and set the stage for a more competitive season.
Leader of the pack: Button won from Vettel with pole-sitter Hamilton in third
'It's an amazing way to start the season,' said Button.
'Starting the year strong for this team is really important. The past two years for us have been tricky for us coming into the first race. It points us in a great position for the next few races and on the right foot.'
No 1: Button got his season off to the best possible start in Melbourne
Button immediately took the lead from Hamilton, extending the gap on his teammate to a maximum of 11.8 seconds on lap 23 of 58.
Howeverthat buffer was negated when the Caterham of Vitaly Petrov stopped on the pit straight and brought out the safety car.
'The biggest problem was the safety car,' Button added. 'As soon as the safety car comes out and its six o'clock in the evening, it's difficult to keep temperature in the tyres.
'I was a little on edge but I was able to keep the heat in the tyres.'
Button mastered the restart, opening a 3.5 second lead on Vettel after just one lap and comfortably holding on for victory.
Vettel pitted during the safety car period which allowed him to move above Hamilton and into second place.
The German was tacked onto the back of Button, and it appeared he could pull off a victory that had seemed McLaren's for the taking.
'I thought I would be in a good position to have a shot at Jenson but I didn't. He was too quick – two corners and he was gone,' Vettel said.
'There was no way we could have stayed with him – he completely deserved to win today.'
A downcast Hamilton saw little to be enthused about in third position.
Disappointed: Hamilton was left feeling underwhelmed after finishing third in Sunday's race
'It was a bit of a tough day but there's plenty more races to do so I just have to keep my head up,' Hamilton said.
'It was still a positive to come here with good pace and hopefully we can take that on to the next race.'