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Button wins as Melbourne delivers

NEWS STORY
28/03/2010

Judging by their qualifying performance, today's Australian Grand Prix is Red Bull's to lose. The pace of the two drivers, particularly Sebastian Vettel, was absolutely electrifying, with rivals fearing there's even more in reserve.

However, this is F1 and as we know from experience anything can, and usually does, happen. Other than the usual threat of first lap incidents - a serious concern today given the additional teams and the confines of the Albert Park circuit - there is the weather, Red Bull's notorious reliability and the threat from the late start time.

At the end of yesterday's qualifying session, Mat Coch wrote: "It is so, so dark here. If this were cricket they'd be back in the pavilion by now, and the race finishes an hour later than this. This is going to be called early tomorrow if it's cloudy like this."

In Bahrain, Vettel was romping to victory when a spark plug failure, 15 laps from the end, dropped him to fourth, gifting the win to a most grateful Fernando Alonso. Today, other than anticipating further reliability issues, the German will face an almighty threat from his teammate, Mark Webber, who would dearly love to win his home race.

While Vettel jokes that he intends to deprive his teammate in payback for the Australian winning last year's German Grand Prix, let's not be fooled, behind the impish grin is a highly competitive racer with no room for sentimentality only winning. If Webber is to win today, he will have to beat his teammate not just the other twenty-two drivers out there.

No doubt, as in Bahrain, the biggest threat to the Red Bulls will come from Ferrari where Fernando Alonso has had the edge over Felipe Massa for much of the weekend. While the scarlet cars don't have the pace or grip of the Austrian cars they do have reliability.

In many ways McLaren's best hope lies with Jenson Button after Lewis Hamilton failed to make it into Q3. The Woking team clearly has a number of issues and it looks likely that it won't be able to start closing the gap until Barcelona. In the meantime, it must do the best job it can and keep adding points to its tally while at the same time depriving its rivals.

At Mercedes, Michael Schumacher is much closer to Nico Rosberg than he was in Bahrain, and the wily old fox should never been written off, particularly on a track where he's won before and when weather conditions look likely to have an impact.

Rubens Barrichello and Robert Kubica continue to uphold honour for their teams, while Adrian Sutil, having once again got the Force India into the Top Ten, must ensure he learns from Bahrain and stays well clear of any incidents today.

Lotus know it will be take time before they start closing the gap, even to the Saubers and Toro Rossos, while Virgin and Hispania will be delighted to make it to the chequered flag, fuel tank permitting in the British team's case.

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