After weeks of posturing and conjecture on the tarmac of Jerez and Barcelona, the 2012 F1 world championship finally got underway in the leafy surrounds of Albert Park at the weekend.
An action-packed weekend, which briefly threatened to get political, ended with Jenson Button taking the honours after a controlled lights-to-flag run and leaping into an early championship lead by keeping reigning champion Sebastian Vettel at arms length in the closing stages.
McLaren proved to have the upper hand throughout the weekend, with Lewis Hamilton pipping Button for pole on Saturday afternoon. Red Bull, many people's pre-season favourites despite a far from smooth run in testing, only managed to qualify on row three, with Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher putting themselves between Vettel, Mark Webber and the McLarens. In the race, however, the row two occupants failed to see the chequered flag, allowing Webber to overcome a poor start and turn one collision to finish fourth - his best result in his home race - ahead of Fernando Alonso, who overcame a recalcitrant Ferrari and row six start to round out the top five.
The Spaniard was under pressure from Pastor Maldonado and a rejuvenated Williams until the Venezuelan crashed two laps from home, allowing Kamui Kobayashi and Kimi Raikkonen to move up a place, both having qualified outside the top ten. Nico Rosberg should have scored for Mercedes, but a late clash with Sergio Perez - who again used a single-stop strategy to transform 22nd on the grid into points - left him with a puncture, and prompted a frenetic dash for points involving Daniel Ricciardo, who came from a lap down thanks to the safety car, Paul di Resta and rookie Jean-Eric Vergne, with the Frenchman the one to miss out at the line. Further back, both Caterhams ran into problems, allowing Marussia - for all its lack of pre-season testing - to claim 'division three' honours courtesy of birthday boy Timo Glock and newcomer Charles Pic.
While Grosjean deserves an honourable mention for his qualifying exploits, we want to know who you felt was the star of the race in Melbourne, and have provided a short-list of ten names to choose from. Simply CLICK HERE
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