Jenson Button started his quest for the F1 crown with a well-judged 13th career victory in the Australian Grand Prix. He started from second on the grid and after taking the lead from his team mate on the first corner he was never caught by his closest competitors.
"It was very important for us to get this one in the bank early on," said Button, whose lead went unchallenged.
Sebastian Vettel made his pit stop under the safety car and jumped Lewis Hamilton, who had been running in second, but Vettel acknowledged he had no chance of catching Button after the restart.
Lewis Hamilton said after the race: "I thought I would be in a good position to have a go at Jenson but two corners and he was gone. It wasn't very easy to get away from Lewis but Jenson was out of sight. He deserved to win. I'm not sure what happened. I let out the clutch and got a lot of wheel spin. That followed all way through the launch phase. We lost a lot of ground from there and the safety car didn't help us.”
Sergio Perez gave perhaps the best demonstration, coming through from the back of the grid to finish eighth. While his Sauber team mate Kamui Kobayashi emerged in sixth following a late battle with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus.
Kimi Raikkonen had a very good return to F1 after a two-year absence from the sport. Now driving for the Lotus team, the Finn had qualified a disappointing 17th but came through the pack to take a well-deserved seventh.
Williams’s driver Pastor Maldonado crashed on the final lap. The Venezuelan had been on course for his best ever Formula 1 result as he closely followed Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for fifth place.
The Mercedes team had a good qualifying compared to the pace of the 2011 car. Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had qualified fourth and seventh, although Schumacher retired with a gearbox problem and Rosberg finished 12th after a mechanical failure on the last lap. Ross Brawn said: "we are a long way away from what we expected" after Mercedes fail to score any points.