Jenson Button may have hung up his F1 racing boots for McLaren-Honda, but his victories at Albert Park still standout in one’s mind. As the F1 circus hits Melbourne for the first race of 2017, we take a look back at Button’s hat-trick of wins around Albert Park.
2009 saw Button’s first win at the Melbourne circuit in unexpected circumstances. Racing for Brawn GP and partnering Rubens Barrichello, Button took pole position on Saturday – his first for the team. In the race, Button led the field from start to finish, retaining a decent gap to Barrichello in P2. A stoked Button labelled it as a “fairytale ending for the first race.” After crossing the line first at six of the opening seven races, Button went on to win the 2009 championship title.
One year on, a triumphant Button secured his second victory on Australian soil. This time, the Briton raced for McLaren – a three-year deal that was reportedly worth in excess of £6 million. Melbourne was the second race of the 2010 season, and he came from fourth on the grid to take the chequered flag. A well noted trait of the British driver served him here, his ability to be on the right tyres at the right time paying off. Button was the first man to pit for slick tyres on a damp track that was quickly drying out. This strategy lifted him to second place after the other drivers had pitted. He then went on to take the lead when Sebastian Vettel had to retire with brake issues, the German’s loss the gain of McLaren and Button. Button held on to the end without another tyre change, making him a very worthy and memorable winner.
His third and final win came in 2012 when he dominated from start to finish. With Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the grid after a two-year absence, there was a total of six World Champions lining up on the starting grid – the highest number in the history of the Championship. Button qualified second to Lewis Hamilton, before going on to win the first race of the season in Australia. Hamilton was beaten to the first corner by his team-mate, which ultimately meant a speedy Button was able to pull away from the rest of the field.
There’s no Jenson Button on the grid this season, but his record around Albert Park marks him out as an Aussie GP specialist. Only three of the current Formula One grid have won in Melbourne for the past decade. Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have all tasted success, and are all in seats this season that are capable of picking up victories.