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2012-03-20 08:30

GETTING LUCKY IN THE BOUDOIR: McLaren's Jenson Button might want to book his hotel suite a year in advance as the lucky suite secured him his third victory in Australia.


LONDON, England - Jenson Button's victory in the 2012 Australian F1 season-opener was on the cards from the moment he checked into his hotel suite in Melbourne.

In fact his victory could have been sealed in the bedroom.

McLaren had been quick in testing and Button was confident but as the 2009 World champion explained after his third win in four years at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, he had another reason to feel at home Down Under.


Button: "We arrived this year and my missus (girlfriend) said 'we're actually in the same bedroom as when you won those two previous years' - so maybe that's why."

McLaren might want to make his 2013 booking immediately, with Red Bull's double World champion Sebastian Vettel quickly identifying a room for improvement after finishing second.

Button said: "Next year you get a different one."

Light-hearted banter aside, Melbourne provided the shake-up that F1 needed after 2011's domination by Vettel and his team. The weekend answered some of the more immediate questions and offered the real prospect of a thrilling and close-fought title battle with an unprecedented six champions all showing they could scrap for points.

A triumph of beauty over the beasts, its elegant cars standing out in a field of broken-nosed rivals, McLaren shoved the Red Bulls off the front row of the grid for the first time since 2010. Lewis Hamilton took pole alongside Button, who then forced Vettel to relinquish the championship lead for the first time since he won his first crown in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

Vettel silenced those critics who, after he chalked up a record 15 poles in 19 races during 2011, had doubted his overtaking abilities.

Red Bull was confident it had lost but a skirmish with real battles still to be fought.

Team boss Christian Horner said: "There have been some lessons to learn and we've been working hard to get on top of them."

"I think the potential of this car is strong, there's a lot of stuff in the pipeline, and from now to Brazil will be a development race all the way," he said.


Williams failed to score points but showed it was back in business after 2011, with Pastor Maldonado challenging for fifth until he crashed on the last lap.

Ferrari, too, will take some consolation from the knowledge that it can always count on Fernando Alonso to ride to the rescue, even if his car behaves more like a mule than a stallion.

Lotus, the former Renault team whose pre-season times failed to convince some who detected glory runs to impress potential sponsors, showed its cars were in fact quick. Romain Grosjean was third in qualifying for Lotus and returning champion Kimi Raikkonen charged from 17th to seventh in the race.

Malaysia on March 25 offers a very different challenge with its humidity and fast corners. Ferrari has work to do since the other top teams have quick cars. Button has started the season looking like a genuine contender.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "People underestimate him, he's such a calm, mature and easy-going fellow that people don't realise the hunger in him to compete and to win.

“He’s got stronger and stronger since he's been in our team and he must now fancy his chances for a real championship assault this year," he said.

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