Jenson Button has taken his third Qantas Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix victory in four years at Albert Park.
The 2009 World Champion led home Sebastian Vettel by 2.1s seconds, with Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso rounding out the top five.
Button took the lead from pole-sitter Hamilton off the start and was only headed during the pitstop cycles thereafter.
Hamilton ran second in the early laps but lost the place to Vettel in the second pitstops, which were disrupted by a Safety Car period.
Hamilton had pegged Button’s lead at 3s during the first stint, but dropped more than 7s following the first stops when stuck behind a yet-to-pit Sergio Perez.
Vettel could not do anything about Button when the race resumed from its single Safety Car period with 17 laps to go. Button reset the fastest lap three consecutive times following the restart and was not threatened for the remainder.
Fourth represents Webber’s best ever finish at the Australian Grand Prix, and came despite the local hero falling from fifth to ninth at the first corner.
The Red Bull driver recovered to sixth place by the midway point, before jumping ahead of both Nico Rosberg and Alonso in the second round of stops.
Compatriot Daniel Ricciardo was forced to pit on the opening lap after breaking his front-wing at Turn 1, but eventually took a sensational ninth having benefited from being handed his lap back under the Safety Car.
Ricciardo gained three places on the final lap alone, taking advantage of incidents for Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado before passing his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne at three corners from the chequered flag.
Maldonado had run in the top 10 for the majority of the race, but crashed out in spectacular fashion while pressuring Alonso on the last lap. The Venezuelan lost control of his Williams exiting Turn 7 and made heavy head-on contact with the concrete wall.
Rosberg also saw a strong result go begging on the final lap, the Mercedes driver dropping out of the top 10 after a brush with Perez caused a puncutre.
Team-mate Michael Schumacher too missed out on points after suffering a gearbox failure while running third in the first stint.
Also out on Lap 1 were Nico Hulkenberg (who stopped at Turn 12) and Romain Grosjean (who clashed with Maldonado at Turn 13).
Bruno Senna had spun at the very first corner of the race, and would later retire after side-to-side contact with Felipe Massa at Turn 4.
Both Caterhams failed to finish, with Vitaly Petrov’s car stopping on the main straight with steering problems to cause the race’s one and only Safety Car.
Team-mate Heikki Koavalainen retired with broken suspension, and was later hit with a five-place grid penalty for next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix after passing before the Safety Car line at the restart.
See below for the full race result
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||58||+2.1 secs|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||58||+4.0 secs|
|4||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||58||+4.5 secs|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||58||+21.5 secs|
|6||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||58||+36.7 secs|
|7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||58||+38.0 secs|
|8||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||58||+39.4 secs|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||58||+39.5 secs|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||58||+39.7 secs|
|11||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||58||+39.8 secs|
|12||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||58||+57.6 secs|
|13||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||57||+1 Lap|
|14||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||57||+1 Lap|
|15||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||53||+5 Laps|
|16||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||52||+6 Laps|
|Ret||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||46||+12 Laps|
|Ret||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||38||+20 Laps|
|Ret||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||34||+24 Laps|
|Ret||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||10||+48 Laps|
|Ret||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||1||+57 Laps|
|Ret||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||0||+ 58 Laps|
|DNS||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth|