Button wins Melbourne thriller for McLaren image

World champion Jenson Button admitted he did not expect to be winning races so early into his McLaren career after victory in a thrilling Australian Grand Prix today

After two weeks of criticism over a processional race at the season opener in Bahrain and accusations that the Formula One’s new rules had made the series a bore, the second race of the season proved to be one of the most exciting in the last decade.

Robert Kubica took second place in a Renault and Felipe Massa was third in a Ferrari an action-packed race at Albert Park which made up for the procession-like event at the season-opener in Bahrain two weeks ago.

The Bahrain winner Fernando Alonso placed fourth in the second Ferrari to retain first place in the drivers’ standings with 37 points from Massa (33) and Button (31) after two of 19 season races.

Button was awarded for gambling with a seventh-lap pit stop for slicks on a quickly drying track after a shower, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton was fuming about being called in for a second stop which possibly cost him a place on the podium.

“We could have had a first one-two. I did want to stay out,” said Hamilton who was lying third with Kubica in his sight at the time.

Button said it was his decision to come in early and that he had the right formula with just one stop.

“It was my call. When I got into the pit lane I thought it was catastrophic decision because it was soaking there. But the pace was good then and it was the right call.”

“I never thought of putting on another set. My pace was not great but consistent. We couldn’t have done a better strategy.”

Victory was sweet for Button as he got the first for the McLaren team (which is still equipped by Mercedes engines) 12 months after starting his title run with a Melbourne win for Brawn GP.

“It is very special. I feel I am building in confidence,” the Briton said.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said:

“It was a fantastic race by Jenson, in truth he called that first stop and it got him the win, it was his bravery to make that call. With Lewis we made a team call which disadvantaged him but it was a fantastic job by Jenson.”

Image: William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images