Button opens Formula 1 season with win

March 18, 2012 at 7:12 AM

MELBOURNE, March 18 (UPI) -- Jenson Button edged Sebastian Vettel by 2.1 seconds Sunday in opening the 2012 Formula 1 season with a victory at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

It was Button's third win in Melbourne in four years, with Vettel's victory in 2011 breaking the streak. Button has won 13th Formula 1 races in his career.

A problem with Vitaly Petrov's car led to the safety car heading onto the track, which gave Vettel a final chance with 18 laps to go. But Button quickly forged an advantage and left Vettel, the two-time defending driving champion, to fight for second.

Button, driving for McLaren-Mercedes, finished the 58-lap, 191-mile race in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 9.565 seconds. Vettel's Red Bull-Renault was second, 2.1 seconds back.

Button teammate Lewis Hamilton was third, 4 seconds behind the winner, and Mark Webber, Vettel's teammate, took fourth another half-second back.

The Formula 1 tour heads to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix next Sunday. Vettel is the defending champion of the race, beating Button by 3.3 seconds last year.

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