MELBOURNE — McLaren’s Jenson Button won the Australian Grand Prix for the third time ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel in an incident-packed season opener yesterday.
Button’s fellow Briton and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who started on pole, finished third behind the German to round out the podium while Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber was fourth, his best ever finish in his 11th attempt to win his home race.
“Oh fantastic, what a great way to start the year, guys! Seriously, fantastic!” former world champion Button said on the team radio after his 13th career victory.
“Shows what a winter does. The car is beautiful and she’s quick. Thanks guys.”
Fernando Alonso drove a spirited race to finish fifth for Ferrari ahead of the Sauber of Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi after Williams driver Pastor Maldonado crashed out on the final lap while running sixth.
Kimi Raikkonen, one of six former world champions on the field, also impressed on his return from two years out of the sport to finish seventh for Lotus after starting 17th on the grid.
Mexican Sergio Perez had started right from the back after changing his gearbox overnight but finished a creditable eighth – the same place he claimed on his Formula One debut here last year before he and Kobayashi were disqualified for technical infringements.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth on his home race debut for Toro Rosso despite an accident at the start, while the last point was won by Force India’s Paul Di Resta in 10th.