Australian Grand Prix as it happened

Jenson Button wins the season-opening Australian Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

9 September 2012 Last updated at 14:23

Get involved

To get involved contact us in any of the following ways

  • Send us a text: 81111
  • Twitter:#bbcf1

As it happened

  1. 0855: 

    And on that note, it's time to bring this live text commentary to a close. I'm pleased to say we don't have to wait too long to feed our hunger for F1 as action gets under way at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on Friday. I'll be back at 0130 GMT to guide you through first practice on this very website. Until then, I'll be living on Australian/Malaysian time - I'll let you know how that works out on Friday - so cheerio for now.

  2.  

    Australian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button: "For the last couple of years our first races have been tricky. I'd say we've been pretty dominant today. My race engineer looked tired and said he was looking forward to having a rest on the Sunday evening, but I'm not sure he's going to have one now. I did react well to the lights and got all excited when I got up alongside Lewis, I pulled 2nd gear too early, and when you do that you get a poor shift and that really hurt me. Then it was just a drag race in to Turn One, but I got on the inside and it's always easier from there."

  3.  

    Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who finished fifth: "We didn't lose too many points and now the priority is to improve car. We had some interesting fights but not at the top so we need to improve quickly."

  4. 0840: 

    My colleague Rob Dugdale has just informed me that in nine of the last 13 seasons, the winner of the Australian GP has gone on to win the drivers' championship. Interestingly, the last person to fail to do this was Jenson Button in 2010. I'm not saying anything.

  5.  

    McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton: "It was a shocking start. 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. It was impossible to overtake so I focused on keeping my spot and the safety car didn't help us. [Were you in the wrong place at the wrong time?] I'm often like that. It's still a great job by Jenson. Clearly we're very quick so we go forward to the next race in good shape."

  6.   
    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan

    "Jenson Button was emphatic today. He had a fabulous start and he became even stronger from then on in. He pulled out those early laps and probably caught Lewis by surprise by creating that gap. Fair play to Ferrari. They got themselves up after a difficult qualifying and surprised a lot of people. Clearly qualifying was not indicative to what they could do. Fernando Alonso got them out of a lot of trouble today."

  7.   
    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan

    "I don't know why this is but Australia has a habit of just producing these great races. It's my favourite venue and I love coming here. If they keep producing races like this, we'll be here forever."

  8.  

    From Adam Weavers on Twitter: "Get in @JensonButton! Great start to the season! Promising stuff! Let's hope this form continues throughout!"

  9.  

    From Christina Eades on Twitter: "Best part of the race was when Kimi asked if the blue flags were for him! HA! Thinks he has homework to do tonight."

  10. 0822: 

    Now remember you can catch all the best bits in our shiny highlights package which airs on BBC One at 1400 GMT. That way, you can spend the next couple of hours catching up on sleep and preparing a nice lunch for your mum - as it's Mother's Day remember - before settling down on the sofa as a well-earned reward.

  11. 0815: 

    I reckon we've been treated to a mighty fine race there to open this year's account, folks. We had action from the first corner, with Jenson Button getting ahead of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, right up until the dying seconds when four drivers squabbled over the final two points-paying positions. We had crashes galore, with Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado racking up a hefty repair bill and plenty of overtakes from the likes of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Kamui Kobayashi.

  12.  

    From Nikhil Suvarna on Twitter: "Entertaining race. Bad luck Maldonado. Wondering if Sebastian Vettel had qualified better, the story of the race would be totally different."

  13.  

    From Jenny Berrill in Milton Keynes: "What a Mothers Day present for his mum! Well done Jenson!"

  14.  

    From Will Trawin on Twitter: "Yes well done @JensonButton! Great race from both #McLarens! Keep it up!"

  15.  

    From Mark Haggan on Twitter: "Pleased at Vettel's warm hug for Button after the Grand Prix. Nice to see a bit of sportsmanship."

  16.  

    From Stephen O'Brien on Twitter: "YES! Great win Jenson, complete dominance over the race. Best of luck for the rest of the season."

  17. 0758: 

    Jenson Button also said that the safety car played into their hands because the team were short on fuel. "I was a little bit on edge [at the safety car restart] but I was able to keep heat on tyres and save a lot of fuel, which was important for us today. Then the team said 'push as hard as you can for two laps after restart' and I was happy to be able to do that."

  18.  

    McLaren driver Jenson Button: "I think we all think this is a very special year in Formula 1, having six world champions and so many competitive teams. It's great to see Formula 1 is in a great place at the moment. I'm very excited heading to Malaysia, but I'm not thinking about that now. I'm going to enjoy myself with the team, friends and family this evening and then turn my attention to Malaysia tomorrow."

  19.  

    Lewis Hamilton, who finished third: "Firstly congratulations to Jenson - he did great job. And to the team for doing great job. It was a bit of a tough day for me, but we've got a lot of races ahead of us. It wasn't my day. I just have to keep my head down and my day will come. It was a tough race, but still positive for the team, so hopefully we can take that on to the next race."

  20.  

    Sebastian Vettel, who finished second: "I decided to stay out when Lewis went into the pits and I think we would have had a crack without the safety car. Maybe it helped us a little bit to get past Lewis. We had a great stop. 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 today."

  21.  

    Jenson Button, who finished first: "Every win means a lot. As a team, the win shows how important the winter is. We've had a strong winter and yesterday we showed that in qualifying. It's nice to come away with victory in the first race of the new season. The guys have done an amazing job this winter. This win will definitely help them push hard in the extra hours their doing for that extra part. A big thank you to everyone at Woking for this victory. It's a pretty amazing day."

  22. 0750: 

    We had six retirements - Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Michael Schumacher, Vitaly Petrov, Heikki Kovalainen and Felipe Massa. Pastor Maldonado is still classified in 13th, despite that accident, ahead of Timo Glock and Charles Pic. Bruno Senna retired, too, but is classified as 16th.

  23.  
    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Kimi Raikkonen did a good race and scored some points in his first comeback. He did a great job, especially starting from the back. He had a good strategy, he used the tyres when he had and generally it was a good race for him. I'm expecting a lot from him this year."

  24. 0744: 

    Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton make their way to the podium to raptuous applause. Button punches the air while Sebastian Vettel looks happy, too - he's limited the damage this weekend with a fine drive. Lewis Hamilton isn't looking so happy though and is struggling to hold a smile. He'll be disappointed to have lose out to Button at the start, and then lose second to Vettel at the safety car.

  25.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "Sebastian Vettel didn't lead a lap. It's the first time in 23 races that Red Bull haven't lead a lap of a race."

  26.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Great to see so many different constructors in the top 10. And good news for Ferrari that they've managed to make a comeback after difficult qualifying."

  27. 0740: 

    Jenson Button leaps out of the car and celebrates with his team. The 2009 world champion can't stop smiling and rightly so, it was a fine drive. Once again, he's shown how good he is at looking after his tyres.

  28.  
    LAP 58

    Pastor Maldonado's demise means, Kamui Kobayashi gets promoted to sixth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who gets ahead of Sergio Perez on the final corner. There's more action on the finishing straight, too, as Daniel Ricciardo makes it into ninth - for his first points in Formula 1 - and Paul di Resta takes 10th on the line. Jean-Eric Vergne loses out, as does Nico Rosberg who limped how with a steering issue. More on that damage, and how it occurred, when we get it.

  29.  
    LAP 58

    Jenson Button punches the air as he secures his 13th career victory. "It shows what a winter does," he says on the team radio, "the car is beautiful and she's quick. What a way to start the season."

  30.  
    CHEQUERED FLAG- LAP 58

    JENSON BUTTON WINS THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

  31.  
    CRASH!- LAP 58

    It's a nightmare for Williams as Pastor Maldonado gets his wheels on the artifical grass, loses control of his car and smashes it into the wall. He was close to his best ever Formula 1 result and Williams were on course for more points than they scored all season. Oh dear, oh dear.

  32.  
    LAP 55

    Jenson Button is still three seconds in front of Sebastian Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton in third. Mark Webber 0.6 seconds behind in fourth with Fernando Alonso doing a good job to hold off the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. Sergio Perez, who has made up 15 places no his grid slot, is seventh, ahead of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi. Kimi Raikkonen completes the top 10 - not bad for his first race back in F1.

  33.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Lewis Hamilton is not able to use his tyres as well as Jenson Button. We could see him snaking around at Turn Three. Is he at the point of burning out these tyres?"

  34.  
    LAP 53

    Lewis Hamilton has dropped back to 1.4 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel so it looks like Sebastian Vettel is safe and can now focus on trying to catch leader Jenson Button. Hamilton's main focus is now defending from Mark Webber who has never made the podium at his home race. The Australian is just 0.4 seconds behind here and BBC co-commentator David Coulthard thinks that given the chance, Webber is going to go for it.

  35.  
    LAP 51

    Kamui Kobayashi has a stab at Nico Rosberg, but he overcooks it and the Mercedes driver gets his eighth place back. The Japanese has lost momentum and drops back into the clutches of Kimi Raikkonen with the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo battling each other close behind.

  36.  

    From Tom Bowker on Twitter: "Button's been supreme, 'doing a Vettel' at the front. Peerless stuff but shame Hamilton's been denied a straight fight with him."

  37.  

    McLaren operations director Simon Roberts: "Lewis is on it, the car is good and hopefully he'll use DRS when he can. Last year DRS wasn't so effective here, it helps us but we just have to push."

  38.  
    LAP 49

    Jenson Button is maintaining a three second lead at the front with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton separated by just 0.7 seconds. That's DRS terrority, that is. However, the McLaren driver will need to keep an eye in his mirrors, which he says are better positioned this season, as Mark Webber is only a second behind. After showing strong pace all weekend, Mercedes have disappointed. Michael Schumacher is out while Nico Rosberg is an unspectacular eighth.

  39.  
    LAP 48

    Bruno Senna makes it back top the pits and his Williams team give his car the once over before giving him the all clear. It's not such good news for Felipe Massa, though, who parks up in the Ferrari garage. Out on track, those teams are battling each other hard throgh Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado is all over the back of the Ferrari who has tyres which are three years older than the Williams. If Maldonado stays sixth, the Williams team will score more points this weekend then they scored all season last year.

  40.  
    LAP 47

    Felipe Massa has a new crash buddy - his fellow Brazilian Bruno Senna. The duo clash at Turn 4 and Senna tries a move around the outside but Massa closes the door. The Williams driver may have suspension damage.

  41.  
    LAP 46

    Lewis Hamilton has now gone purple, becoming the first man into the 1m29s in this race. Better still, the DRS is now enabled so Hamilton can really have a go. Watch this space.

  42.  
    LAP 45

    Jenson Button sets the fastest lap of the race - a 1:30.232 - to extend his lead over Sebastian Vettel to 3.8 seconds. Lewis Hamilton is just 0.8 seconds behind, too. We're on for a race to the finish here.

  43.  
    LAP 44

    Kimi Raikkonen is on the radio to his team again - this time to them that Kamui Kobayashi's rear wing is damaged. From the onboard shots, you can see there is a part flapping so let's see what Sauber decide to do. Crikey Kimi, you've got good eyesight. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson says he thinks it's structurally OK, but the team will need to have a look as the car passes the pitwall next time around.

  44.  
    RETIREMENT- LAP 43

    Heikki Kovalainen compounds a miserable weekend for Caterham as he crawls into the pit-lane and parks his green and yellow machine in the garage. That's retirement number five.

  45.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "The top three are all on the 'medium' tyre. This is a straight battle between Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton."

  46.  
    GO! GO! GO!- LAP 42

    The safety car lights go out and Jenson Button backs the field up, as he's allowed to do. Then he puts the hammer down and blasts out of the final corner leaving Sebastian Vettel in his wake. Just what the doctor ordered there, Jenson. Lewis Hamilton closes nicely on Vettel, but can't quite make a move. Everyone gets through Turn 1 cleanly and then Kamui Kobayashi gives Kimi Raikkonen a bit of his own medicine with a sensational move on the outside of Turn Three. Great, clean racing from both drivers there.

  47.  
    LAP 41

    Jenson Button comes on the team radio to effectively ask if Sebastian Vettel, now in second, can catch him and McLaren tell him: "The Red Bulls' pace is similar to ours." Meanwhile, Vettel is instructed over his team radio to rehearse the restart in his mind. Let's get ready to rumble.

  48.  
    LAP 40

    The FIA have said that lapped cars can now overtake the safety car and rejoin the back of the field - a new rule for this season - so that the leaders will be in clean formation when the race restarts. That means we can't be too far away from a restart.

  49.  
    LAP 39

    So Sebastian Vettel is now Jenson Button's main rival for the victory, with Lewis Hamilton third, Mark Webber fourth, Fernando Alonso fifth and Pastor Maldonado sixth. Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Kamui Kobayashi completed the top 10.

  50.  
    LAP 38

    Well can you believe it? Sebastian Vettel has actually benefitted from this safety incident because he's popped back out onto the track into second, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson tells us the reason that happened is because Sebastian Vettel didn't slow down for the Caterham incident, because he was already clear of the yellow flag section, whereas Lewis Hamilton wasn't so had to slow.

  51.  
    SAFETY CAR- LAP 37

    We have our first safety car of the season after Vitaly Petrov parks his Caterham awkwardly on the start/finish straight. That's worked out nicely for McLaren who have already stopped, but Sebastian Vettel is still out there? Will ge be able to get in and out to avoid losing position?

  52.  
    LAP 36

    Sebastian Vettel is told to push, push, push as Jenson Button makes his second pit stop. It's slick pit work from the McLaren team as Lewis Hamilton is on the same lap, giving the team just a few seconds to turn it around.

  53.  

    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan: "Ferrari's race pace has caught everyone by surprise. People were saying it was scandalous after qualifying but hey have they turned it around? This car can race and it's doing lap after lap. I believe the way they have raced here has shown a lot of heart."

  54.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Pirelli have really helped spice up the racing with their tyres. Jenson Button is able to look after his tyres better than Lewis."

  55.  
    LAP 34

    Fernando Alonso pits from fourth place. He was 12 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel and five seconds ahead of Mark Webber. The team bolt on a set of medium tyres - maybe the Spaniard is trying to get to the end of the race on those more durable tyres without stopping again...

  56.  
    LAP 32

    Kimi Raikkonen on team radio: "Why do I get all the time blue flags!" Kimi's race engineer replied: "The blue flags are not for you, Kimi, they are for people who need to be lapped." Oh Kimi, it's good to have you back.

  57.  
    LAP 31

    Jenson Button nails the fastest lap of the race - 1:31.565 - as the fuel starts to burn off. Further back, Mark Webber tries a pass on Nico Rosberg around the outside of Turn 11 but he doesn't quite make it stick. But, hang on, Rosberg cuts the corner. Will he give the position to Webber to avoid a penalty? Well we'll never know because the Mercedes driver pits anyway and bolts on a set of medium tyres.

  58.  
    LAP 30

    Nico Rosberg is really struggling for pace at the moment and as a result, the Mercedes driver is coming under fire from Mark Webber and PAstor Maldonado. Webber tries a move down the outside in Turn Three but Rosberg defends well. Maldonado tries to get in on the action, too, but it doesn't happen.

  59.  
    LAP 27

    So Jenson Button leads by 9.5 seconds from team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel is third ahead of Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber. Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa complete the top 10. However, Massa will drop down the field as he's the first man to pit in the second round of stops. The Brazilian is really struggling to look after his tyres here.

  60.  

    Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher: "I lost drive in the braking on the way into Turn One. I knew it was the finish of the weekend from then. We've never had an issue with the gearbox all winter long, so it's a bit strange. But they're prototype cars - you can never have total reliability. We have positive points to take from this weekend. The boys in the factory have done fantastic job."

  61.  
    LAP 26

    Felipe Massa is going backwards. Kimi Raikkonen goes round the outside of the Brazilian at Turn 1, the Lotus driver uses the DRS to perfection. Kamui Kobayashi fancies a bit of the action, too, adds to Massa's misery by passing him into Turn Three. Super race for Pastor Maldonado at the moment. The Venezuelan is on course for his first ever points score in seventh and is the best performing driver outside the top four teams.

  62.  
    LAP 25

    Just as I say Sebastian Vettel is catching Lewis Hamilton, the latter goes purple and extends his advantage over the German to 1.5 seconds. He closes to within 10 seconds of leader Jenson Button.

  63.  
    LAP 24

    Jenson Button is enjoying a 12 second lead at the front, but he's reporting some vibrations. I'll keep you posted on developments. Sebastian Vettel is chasing down Lewis Hamilton in second - the gap just over a second. The Red Bull driver is still in the hunt for victory here. Who would have thought that on Saturday, eh? Kimi Raikkonen is doing what he does best and that's overtaking. The Finn passes Kamui Kobayashi on the outside of Turn Four. Don't think I've ever seen someone overtake somewhere there. Incredible scenes. Sergio Perez's marathon run ends and he pits for some softs tyres.

  64.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "This is impressive stuff by Sergio Perez. Lap 23 and he still hasn't made a pitstop yet."

  65.  
    LAP 23

    Sergio Perez can't hold off Fernando Alonso any more, with the Spaniard blasting past on the home straight. Nico Rosberg gets in on the action, too, passing the Mexican at Turn Three and then Mark Webber has a stab a few corners later, making it stick for sixth.

  66.  
    LAP 22

    Fernando Alonso is having a brilliant race for Ferrari after their problems in qualifying. He's up to fifth now and all over the back of Sergio Perez's Sauber. The Mexican's tyres will be losing their life, but the fact he's in the top four, after starting last, is quite frankly incredible. Good work, son.

  67.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "The McLaren top speed with DRS is 10kph faster than the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton made the pass [over Sergio Perez], but Sebastian Vettel wasn't able to make use of the DRS on the longer following straight."

  68.  
    LAP 21

    Lewis Hamilton does it, getting into the tow of Sergio Perez on the main straight and slotting down the inside into Turn 1. Sebastian Vettel tries a move at Turn 3 but Perez, who started 22nd on the grid, defends bravely. He can't hold on for long, though, and Vettel finally gets passed a couple of corners later for fourth.

  69.  
    LAP 19

    Bad news for Lewis Hamilton who has found himself stuck behind Sergio Perez's Sauber who has yet to stop. Is the Mexican going for one of his famous one-stoppers - something he did in Australia last year? Hamilton is losing time to Button - who has a 10 second lead now - with Sebastian Vettel closing to within a second. This could get interesting.

  70.  
    LAP 18

    Sebastian Vettel gets passed Jean-Eric Vergne to pop up into fifth and a couple of corners later, Nico Rosberg sticks his Mercedes up the inside of the Toro Rosso, too. It's still a strong performance from the French rookie, though.

  71.  
    LAP 17

    It's Lewis Hamilton's turn for a new set of boots and judging by his slow pace, he'll be delighted. It's a fine stop by the McLaren team as they bolt ona set of medium tyres, like his team-mate, but he rejoins behind Kimi Raikkonen who has yet to pit. Interesting strategy at play here as Red Bull split their strategy putting Webber on the prime and Vettel on the soft, while both McLarens move onto the primes.

  72.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards, BBC Sport's

    "We're still learning so much about the performance of these tyres in the race. It will have hurt Lewis Hamilton to stay out that little bit longer."

  73.  
    LAP 16

    Jenson Button pits from the lead, leaving Lewis Hamilton to take the lead. Sebastian Vettel comes in, too, and goes for a set of soft tyres. Button, meanwhile, has taken the hards. McLaren tell Button over the radio that "we're in really good shape." That's exactly what he will want to hear. Bad news for Lewis Hamilton, though, has his tyres have gone off. His last lap is three seconds slower than the rest of the field, so that will have helped Vettel close the gap.

  74.  

    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan: "I'm absolutely flabbergasted as this race is so intriguing. We don't know how often they'll have to stop for tyres. Jenson Button made such an amazing start. It wasn't that he caught Lewis Hamilton by surprise it was just the perfect start, he held the inside line and Hamilton knew when he had to give up."

  75.  
    LAP 15

    There's a flurry of activity in the pit-lane as it looks like the soft tyre isn't lasting as long as first thought. Mark Webber is in for some new boots but the McLarens have stayed out. Jenson Button is maintaining a three second lead over team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel 10 seconds further behind - but the German is lapping one second quicker than the McLaren pair.

  76.  

    Lotus driver Romain Grosjean: "Start wasn't good, then it was Pastor Maldonado who braked too late, hit my car and broke front [suspension]."

  77.  
    LAP 14

    Kimi Raikkonen has found himself in eighth - that's a 10 place jump. We may have had a fair few pitstops and retirements but that's a strong showing from the Finn nonetheless on his F1 return. Felipe Massa has dived into the pits for a new set of boots and he's dropped down to 15th. He's put on a new set of softs. His Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso is in, too, but it's a set of prime medium tyres for him.

  78.  
    LAP 12

    That's it for Michael Schumacher. He pulls into the pits and stops just inside the entry to the pit-lane. He throws his steering wheel out of the car and hops out. That's a miserable end to what was a very promising weekend for the seven-time world champion.

  79.  
    LAP 10

    It's all gone wrong for Michael Schumacher, who was running third. The German outbrakes himself into Turn One and that let's Sebastian Vettel through. Schumacher gets on the radio and tells his team he has a problem with his gears as he coasts towards the pits. Further back, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso are having a brilliant battle for fourth place.

  80.  
    LAP EIGHT

    So we've had two retirements so far - Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean. Pastor Maldonado gets passed Felipe Massa for eight place, and that drops the Brazilian into the clutches of Sergio Perez who himself is under siege from Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi. Looks like Massa is struggling with his soft tyres, complaining to his team about blistering. BBC co-commentator David Coultahrd reckons he will need to stop three times.

  81.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards, BBC Sport's

    "This is a strong performance from Alonso so far but how long will the tyres last on the Ferrari?"

  82.  

    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "Clean stuff from Button - Lewis Hamilton had to make way. Two cars came around Webber and sandwiched him together. What were they thinking? He was lucky there wasn't more damage."

  83.  

    Force India on Twitter: "Looks like Nico picked up damage in the first corner. He's had to retire the car. Such a shame after a great qualy."

  84.  

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari: "You can feel Red Bull are struggling more than last year. You have to know that going behind a car you lose the downforce, Sebastian had the DRS open as well so I expect his mistake was because of that."

  85.  
    LAP SIX

    Sebastian Vettel outbrakes himself into Turn One and runs wide onto the grass. He rejoins, but Nico Rosberg is right on his tail and tries a move round the outside of Turn Three. Vettel has it under control, though, and holds onto the position. The incident has allowed Fernando Alonso to close the gap, though, and that means the trio are separated by just one second.

  86.  
    LAP FIVE

    Fernando Alonso is showing great pace in the Ferrari, up from 12th to seventh. He puts a good move on Pastor Maldonado and now sets his sights on Nico Rosberg in fifth. Felipe Massa is up to eighth from 16th, too, so the Ferrari is showing good race pace. Up front, Jenson Button has pulled out a three second lead over Lewis Hamilton with Michael Schumacher only two seconds behind.

  87.  
    LAP THREE

    We've just seen a replay of the start and it seems Mark Webber made contact with the Williams of Bruno Senna, launching the Brazilian up into the air and damaging that Red Bull. Nico Hulkenberg is the first man out. More on that in a second.

  88.  

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari: "I think Pastor Maldonado did a great move and for me that was a Romain Grosjean mistake."

  89.  
    LAP TWO

    Sebastian Vettel is on the move as he gets by Nico Rosberg around the outside of Turn Three for fourth. Who said the German couldn't overtake, eh? Romain Grosjean had a horrendous start from third on the grid - and the race gets even worse for the Franco-Swiss as Pastor Maldonado puts a move on him. They bang wheels and Grosjean's front suspension breaks. That's game over for him.

  90.  
    LAP ONE

    It's a terrible start from Mark Webber in front of his home crowd who has dropped down to ninth. The Australian is reporting damage - more on that when we have it. Nico Rosberg had a sensational start from seventh, popping up into fifth, too. Great start from both Mercedes.

  91. 0603: 
    GO! GO! GO!- LAP ONE

    One light, two lights, three lights, four lights, five lights and we're go, go, go! An incredible start from Jenson Button off the dirty side of the grid. He gets up the inside of Lewis Hamilton into Turn One to take the lead. Hamilton slots into second ahead of Michael Schumacher who has jumped Romain Grosjean for third.

  92.  

    Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali tells BBC Sport: "We are not where we should be. The position of the grid is not the (true) position of our car, but we know we need to improve certain aspects of our car and we will do it. We need to stay focused as a team on what we need to improve."

  93. 0602: 

    Some tyre news for you, while everyone weaves around to get heat into their tyres on the formation lap. Only Sergio Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne and Vitaly Petrov are on the primes. Everyone else is on the options.

  94. 0600: 

    This is it, people. The cars blast away from their grid slot, with their mechanics, and Lenny Kravitz, watching on the pitwall. Their job is done for now. It's up to their drivers to deliver.

  95.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Some strategy info for you. The teams are expecting this to be a two-stop race, with the potential for some, such as Sauber, to do one. Ferrari's tyre wear, though, has looked higher than others' over the winter. The first stops are likely to start around lap 18. There is only about 0.1-0.2secs difference in pace in the race between the two tyre types - medium and soft - and the degradation rate of the two tyres is about the same at 0.1secs a lap. A pit stop costs 23 seconds lost entering and leaving the pits, plus the time of the stop itself."

  96.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "I used to love this moment, where the team walks away from you, and it's just you on the grid. You had the responsibility of the team and the fans on your shoulders. It was a great feeling."

  97. 0555: 

    The buzzer has sounded which means it's time for everyone, apart from the drivers and the mechanics, to clear the grid ready for the start. Just seen a shot of Sebastian Vettel sat in his car and looking completely focused. He looks like a man who knows he has plenty of work ahead of him this afternoon.

  98.  

    From Samantha Pett on Twitter: "Woohoo! Start of a new F1 season is upon us! Go, Schumi! Big hopes (and not just because my bro works on his car!)"

  99.  

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner: "Fifth and sixth on the grid - we feel we undelivered. Mark had no Kers and Sebastian didn't have the set-up for qualifying after going off in P3. It's important to get through the first few turns cleanly and then we get on with it. Some people are looking at one stop, some people looking at three stops so it's going to be a bit of a voyage of discovery."

  100. 0545: 

    The sun is shining, the grandstands are rammed and the Australian national anthem has played out. Only 15 minutes to go, folks. There's a lovely banner up on the main straight which reads: "We miss you Robert Kubica." The Pole is still recovering from injuries he suffered in a horrific rallying accident last year, but he hopes to return to the sport in the future."

  101.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Despite Mercedes's improved performance, Michael Schumacher is not expecting to be able to challenge for victory in Australia: 'I'm not dreaming too much of winning this race. We are fourth but we have strong guys in front of us," he said. 'Hopefully we'll have a chance to jump on the podium - that's not completely unrealistic; to win from where we are, it's too early to really talk about that.'"

  102.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "One way and another, Mercedes have been at the forefront of everyone's attention in Australia this weekend. There is the fact that the team have clearly made a step forward with the car. On top of that, Michael Schumacher, who has struggled in qualifying since he returned to F1 at the start of 2010, is clearly getting the hang of it - he is fourth on the grid, three places ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg. As usual, Schumacher was matter of fact about it when I asked him about it. "Principally, since day one I went in this car it was very obvious it was much more to my liking,' he said. 'If you look at the steering manoeuvres you have to do to do corners, they're probably half of what I had to do with last year's car. It's definitely much more a racing car that I can just feel and drive and do much more what I want to do. That was clear since the beginning and all the winter tests and all the weekend here. It's a straightforward situation.'"

  103.  

    McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh: "At the moment I'm happy but I've been around long enough to know it can change in about 300m. We've got our own internal race and a lot of competitive cars behind us. We have to make sure we don't make any mistakes and run reliably. Undoubtedly we've got the pace to win."

  104. 0538: 

    Eddie Jordan shirt watch: I'm pleased to report EJ and his 'unique' shirts are back. Today, it's a quirky red and pink flowery number. Lovely.

  105. 0535: 

    The grid is filling up nicely now with nearly all the cars parked in their respective grid slots. There are plenty of mechanics, team personnel, media and celebrities flapping about, too. We've got Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie battling their way through the carnage to scoop up the interviews. More on that when we get it.

  106.  

    Three-time world champion Niki Lauda speaking to BBC Sport on the Melbourne grid: "I can tell you the McLaren is a perfectly designed car, especially in the back where there is a big change; the nose is not ugly, it's a most beautiful car and it's on the front row of the grid. Lewis has got the best chance to win the race and Button is in a good place too."

  107.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Kimi Raikkonen's first race back in F1 after two years in rallying has not gone well so far - he made a mistake in first qualifying, running wide in Turn 12, and then, in backing off to go for another lap, failed to make it round in time before the chequered flag fell. The result is he is 18th on the grid - and ironically the team say that had he simply continued on the lap on which he made the mistake, he'd have made it through easily. No such troubles for team-mate Romain Grosjean, though - he's a superb third on the grid in what is clearly a very good car. For the man who was dropped at the end of 2009 by this team after seven races as a substitute alongside Fernando Alonso, it is a fairytale return. 'It is really nice to be back in F1,' the Franco-Swiss said. 'I am back almost at the top, and I hope we can keep going and it will be a nice story.' Michael Schumacher was impressed: 'If you look at his performance in winter testing, there wasn't any reason to be surprised here. He comes with good experience by now. He is not that young kid any more. And it is good to see that after the first part of his F1 career didn't look so good he got a chance and he got it for good reasons.'"

  108. 0530: 

    We're just 30 minutes away from the start, folks. One man who has it all to do is Mexican Sergio Perez who was handed a five-place grid penalty for today's race for changing his gearbox. That relegates him from 17th to 22nd - which is last now that the HRTs won't be joining us.

  109.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Hats off to Williams, who seem to be on course to put the worst season in their history last year behind them. Pastor Maldonado was eighth on the grid, whereas last year he was 15th, and the technical reshuffle at the team seems to have made a difference. Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan, one of the new faces, said it was 'very satisfying'."

  110. 0528: 

    Fans of former Westlife singer Brian McFadden can relax as he is making his regular appearance at the Australian Grand Prix. Other celebrities hanging out in Albert Park include Lewis Hamilton's squeeze and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, Hollywood actor Aaron Eckhart, Aussie footballer Harry Kewell and model Jessica Michibata, also known as Jenson Button's other half.

  111. 0523: 

    Poor old HRT worked so hard to get their cars ready to race at Melbourne, but unfortunately it's come to nothing. Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan failed to achieve the 107% qualifying time and had their appeal to get dispensation to race rejected. The likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso got badly baulked by Karthikeyan in qualifying, so I doubt they'll be too upset.

  112.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Red Bull's biggest problem in the race will be their lack of straight-line speed - especially in the battle with Mercedes. The Red Bulls are down the bottom end of the speed-trap times, while the Mercedes are right up at the top. There's also a delicious personal battle between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber that will be fascinating - Webber is clearly out to prove a point after a difficult 2011. 'I'm going in with my boxing gloves on,' he said, although his big problem will be that he tends to have higher tyre wear than Vettel."

  113.  

    Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi on Twitter: "The weather in Melbourne is nice, the race is going to be interesting. 1 or 2 stops?"

  114.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Probably the biggest surprise of qualifying was the performance - or lack thereof - of the Red Bulls. Fifth and sixth quickest, with Mark Webber ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel, is not what anyone expected, either at Red Bull or their rivals. The McLaren drivers, though, are wary of what Red Bull can do in the race. Jenson Button said after qualifying: 'I think they will be quick, the same as Lotus and Mercedes. It's those four teams we have seen over the winter and this weekend that have been competitive.' The laps of both Red Bull drivers were compromised - Webber's because of Kers failure, which would cost about 0.3secs, and Vettel's by an error."

  115. 0515: 

    Time to get you lot involved. Were you surprised to see McLaren to lock out the front row? Can Lewis Hamilton end Sebastian Vettel's run of three successive victories? Does Michael Schumacher have a car capable of his first podium since his return? Will Sebastian Vettel get his overtaking boots on and storm through the field from sixth? Let me know what you think through the usual channels. Tweet me via @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or get tapping away on your mobile to 81111 (UK). Remember to put your name on those texts or they've got as much chance of seeing the light of day as HRT have of scoring a point.

  116.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Fernando Alonso had been mighty in the difficult Ferrari up until dropping it in second qualifying and ending up 12th on the grid. He'd likely have sneaked into the top 10 without his error at the first corner, but technical director Pat Fry admitted: 'I don't think we could have got higher than the fourth row' and it's clear Ferrari are in deep trouble. 'We are obviously not quick enough,' Alonso said, while the Spaniard's error meant he did not get a run on new tyres in Q2 - but he still ended up a second faster than team-mate Felipe Massa. If you allow for the Brazilian being on new tyres, that's effectively a gap of more than 1.5 seconds! The difference is that Alonso's skill allows him to let the car breathe and do its thing, while still hanging on to it. Massa is fighting it, to the detriment of performance. Of course, it's easier to say what Alonso is doing than actually to do it."

  117.  

    BBC 5 live breakfast weather presenter Simon King: "It's looking like a dry race at the moment with sunny spells forecast. The brisk southwesterly's continue with a top temperature of 22 degrees."

  118. 0510: 

    While McLaren celebrated, Ferrari toiled. It turned out to be a miserable birthday for the Scuderia's technical director Pat Fry, who turned 48 on Saturday, as both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were knocked out of qualifying in Q2. The duo will start a lowly 12th and 16th respectively. No wonder Fernando Alonso warned his team that they need a "new direction" and react quickly to their plight.

  119.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "Lewis Hamilton arrived here saying he was 'in a good place', after his personal struggles in 2011, and he seems true to his word. He's back with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, who has accompanied him here, along with his mum and new personal assistant Didier Coton - Mika Hakkinen's former manager. It seems to have worked. He drove a spectacular first lap in final qualifying - 0.7secs quicker than team-mate Jenson Button. And despite braking too late for the first corner on his second run, that was enough to fend off Button's second attempt. It sets up a fascinating fight between the two for race victory - with Lotus, Mercedes and Red Bull also in with a shout."

  120.  

    Jenson Button on Twitter: "Morning guys.. Great day by the whole team yesterday in Quali.. Big thanks to everyone at Woking.. Let's see what we can achieve today ;-)"

  121. 0505: 

    It was mighty fine day to be British on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton - the 20th of his career - with team-mate Jenson Button pitching his McLaren up alongside him to lock out the front row. It's the first time the duo have started alongside each other since they became team-mates in 2010 and the first McLaren 1-2 since the European Grand Prix in 2009.

  122.   
    BBC Sport\u2019s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Melbourne

    "In Australia, they call this kind of day 'cool to mild'. In Britain, we would say it was a lovely summer's day, even if there has been a fair bit of cloud build-up after a blue-sky morning. As the sun begins to dip over the dramatic Melbourne skyline and the shadows of the pine and eucalyptus trees lengthen in Albert Park, it is a spectacular stage for what promises to be a thrilling start to a new Formula 1 season. Two McLarens on the front row, the Red Bulls surprisingly far back, new faces at the front. The race - and the season - are rich with promise and intrigue."

  123. 0500: 

    Morning. The waiting is finally over and the first race of the season is upon us. Pumped? Thought so. If qualifying is anything to go by, this is going to be an absolute cracker.

Results

After 58 of 58 laps
Position Driver Team

Race completed

1 Great Britain J Button McLaren
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Great Britain L Hamilton McLaren
4 Australia M Webber Red Bull
5 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
6 Japan K Kobayashi Sauber
7 Finland K Raikkonen Lotus
8 Mexico S Perez Sauber
9 Australia D Ricciardo Toro Rosso
10 Great Britain P Di Resta Force India
11 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
12 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes
13 Venezuela P Maldonado Williams
14 Germany T Glock Marussia
15 France C Pic Marussia
16 Brazil B Senna (ret.) Williams
17 Brazil F Massa (ret.) Ferrari
18 Finland H Kovalainen (ret.) Caterham
19 Russian Federation V Petrov (ret.) Caterham
20 Germany M Schumacher (ret.) Mercedes
21 France R Grosjean Lotus
22 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India