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Australia race analysis - McLaren win the bull fight 29 Mar 2010

Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrates with father John Button (GBR) and the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 28 March 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault and Eric Boullier (FRA) Renault F1 Team Principal celebrate 2nd position. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 28 March 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates his third position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 28 March 2010 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 27 March 2010 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber C29 and Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM03 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 28 March 2010

As in Bahrain, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were the fastest combination in Melbourne. But as in Bahrain, mechanical failure meant the win escaped them. Instead it was Jenson Button and McLaren who did the best job of capitalising on their rivals’ misfortune in some very difficult conditions. A stunning drive from Robert Kubica brought Renault an unexpected podium, and Felipe Massa struck back in his battle with Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso, beating the Spaniard to third place. We take a team-by-team look at how everyone fared at Albert Park on Sunday…

Jenson Button, P1
Lewis Hamilton, P6

When Button entered the pit lane on lap six and found it soaking wet he believed he had made a catastrophic error of judgment in coming in so soon to switch from intermediate to soft Bridgestone tyres, and an off on his out lap did little to change that feeling. But by lap eight the track conditions came to him and when Vettel retired on the 20th lap the way was clear for the world champion to storm home to his first victory for McLaren, at only the second attempt. Hamilton drove like a hero after getting delayed in Button’s brief clash with Alonso, but was furious when the decision was taken to make a second tyre stop which cost him any chance of victory. Subsequent attack by Webber ended his hopes of a really good points score. McLaren, however, move to second place overall with 54 points.

Robert Kubica, P2
Vitaly Petrov, Retired lap 10, spin

Kubica’s was one of the drives of the race, a stunning combination of opportunism and resilience, especially when he came under heavy attack from Hamilton. He resisted everything anyone threw at him to bring the car home to a result that even then team had not dared to envisage. Petrov seemed on course for a reasonable race too, but spun into a gravel bed after 10 laps.

Felipe Massa, P3
Fernando Alonso, P4

Massa made a fantastic start, avoiding wheelspin by changing up quickly through the gears, but lost some pace in the switch from intermediates to slicks. After that he struggled with lack of straight-line speed, and was in the midst of the fantastic six-car scrap for second place. He had no answer to Kubica, but managed to contain Alonso’s challenge to win an important psychological point. Alonso was spun round by Button and also swiped Schumacher in the first corner, but benefited from the safety car deployment and was able to fight his way back up to an eventual fourth place finish which kept him at the top of the world championship points table. Ferrari continue to lead the constructors’, too.

Nico Rosberg, P5
Michael Schumacher, P10

Rosberg said that he struggled on the soft Bridgestones, and that prompted the second pit call that kept him back to an eventual fifth-place finish. Schumacher was unlucky to get involved in the Button/Alonso contretemps at the first corner, but the time lost with an ensuing pit stop was minimised by the safety car deployment. He spent the rest of the afternoon dicing with Spanish rookie Alguersuari, but at times also found Glock and Kovalainen repassing him momentarily. 10th place is not what he would have expected.

Force India
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P7
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 10, engine

Once again Liuzzi drove a great, if unobtrusive, race to seventh place and more valuable points. Sutil lost a bank of cylinders early on, slumped down the order, and was forced to retire on the 10th lap.

Rubens Barrichello, P8
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 1, accident

Barrichello had a good race which earned more points, but not as many as if they had not made a second pit stop in the belief that others would too. Hulkenberg was very lucky not to be injured when Kobayashi’s Sauber went out of control in Turn Six on the opening lap and slammed into the side of him.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P9
Sebastian Vettel, Retired lap 26, wheel problem

Webber lost ground at the start with wheelspin, but quickly moved on to Vettel’s tail prior to the first tyre stops to switch from intermediates to softs. After having to run a lap longer on inters he lost ground and then had a monumental battle with Hamilton which twice resulted in contact. On the second occasion, on the 56th lap, they both spun, dropping them from fifth and sixth places. Webber regained the track to finish a bitterly disappointed ninth, with only fastest lap as consolation. Vettel didn’t even have that. After leading the first 20 laps he went off the road in Turn 13 when it is thought that the left front wheel worked loose. The result was another victory thrown away.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P11
Sebastien Buemi, Retired lap 1, accident

Alguersuari was happy and unhappy. He was delighted to have had such a great fight with Schumacher for the entire distance, but disappointed that a small mistake in Turn 14 towards the end of the race gave the multiple champion the chance to overtake him and thus lost Toro Rosso a crucial point. Buemi was very lucky to escape without injury when Kobayashi’s Sauber assaulted him in Turn Six on the opening lap.

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, P12
Kamui Kobayashi, Retired lap 1, accident

De la Rosa said his C29 went reasonably well, but he underestimated the tyre degradation and finished the race with his rears finished. Kobayashi hit either a kerb or another car on the opening lap - he didn’t know which - and was a passenger as his front wing folded back beneath the car and made it toboggan out of control in Turn Six, where he collided heavily with Buemi and Hulkenberg.

Heikki Kovalainen, P13
Jarno Trulli, Did not start, hydraulics

Trulli had immediate disappointment when an obscure hydraulic power pack failed on the grid and he had to be wheeled to the pits. He was not able to start the race. Kovalainen, however, was another to repass Schumacher after being overtaken. He then ran to the flag for a 13th-place finish which once again achieved the objective.

Karun Chandhok, P14
Bruno Senna, Retired lap 5, hydraulics

Senna benefited from the early mayhem to move from 21st to 14th, but succumbed after five laps to a hydraulics problem. Chandhok, however, kept running. He switched from intermediates to hard tyres, but did a second stop after 51 laps so the team could get experience of running the soft Bridgestones too. 14th place marked their first finish, in only their second Grand Prix – an impressive achievement given the mountain they had to climb just to get to Bahrain.

Timo Glock, Retired lap 41, rear suspension problem
Lucas di Grassi, Retired lap 26, hydraulics

Both VR-01s started from the pit lane. Glock’s starring moment came on the fifth lap when he momentarily repassed Schumacher after being overtaken. He was later closing in on Kovalainen for the ‘new teams lead’ when the car began to handle oddly. This was traced to a camber shim which had worked loose in the left rear suspension. Di Grassi did reasonably well but succumbed to the seemingly inevitable hydraulic problem after 26 laps, having already lost a chunk of time in the pits.