Button Prevails in Thrilling Australian Grand Prix
That was more like it. While the season opening Grand Prix at Bahrain was widely judged a damp squib, the Australian Grand Prix saw drivers taking greater risks with tyre wear as they fought to find the sweet spot between speed and longevity. Once again, Sebastian Vettel can count himself unfortunate, as technical problems once again cost him a probable victory, so serenely did he command the opening stages from a pole position start. Lewis Hamilton, hardly a neophyte to moaning, compounded a miserable weekend by taking a second pit-stop at the behest of the McLaren team; one which Hamilton claimed after the race was unnecessary and cost him a podium place. The decision was made based on tyre wear information, showing once again the potential for rubber-based intrigue in this year’s Championship.
Button used one set of Bridgestone’s soft compound tyre for all but the first six laps of the 58 lap race. Button started, like the rest of the field, on Bridgestone’s Intermediate tyre after rain fell on Albert Park. The reigning champion was first to pit for a set of the soft dry compound Bridgestone Potenzas, and then drove all the way to the chequered flag on these tyres to score his first race victory of 2010. Renault’s Robert Kubica used the same strategy to gain his first podium finish for his new team whilst Felipe Massa took third place for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, also on the same strategy. Mark Webber, in his home Grand Prix set the race’s fastest lap on lap 47 using the soft compound.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said: “What an entertaining race and superb showcase for our Bridgestone tyre technology. Congratulations to Jenson Button for his first win for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and well done to Robert Kubica for his strong second place for the Renault F1 Team. Albert Park provided an excellent race environment and we are happy to have seen exciting racing for the fans here and around the world.”
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said: “This was a great day for tyre performance, strategy and racing as we saw interesting action on track and a good illustration of the benefits of tyre management. The soft tyre was the preferred race tyre once the track dried, and this is a reflection of the track and weather conditions suiting the lower temperature working range tyre. Jenson Button did a superb job to look after his soft tyres for 52 laps for an impressive victory. Robert Kubica also completed a long stint showing good tyre management for second place. There was an interesting battle between the one stop strategies of the Ferraris and the two stop strategy of Lewis Hamilton.
“We are happy with the performance of our intermediate tyres which were used to start the race, with these heavy cars, and then performed well as the track dried. Careful tyre management meant the soft could last for so long in today’s conditions and this provided a showcase of driver tyre management skills. The degradation of the soft was less than we would have seen on a fully dry track, and the lap times were quite slow because of this. The hard compound, as used by Rubens Barrichello, also delivered a good performance so we are happy.”