Victory is suite for Jenson Button
London: Jenson Button`s victory in the Australian Formula One season-opener was on the cards from the moment he checked into his hotel suite in Melbourne.
McLaren had been quick in testing and the Briton was confident. But as the 2009 world champion explained after his third win in four years at the Albert Park street circuit on Sunday, he had another reason to feel at home Down Under.
"We arrived this year and my missus (girlfriend) said `we`re actually in the same bedroom when you won those two previous years` - so maybe that`s the reason why," said Button, before laughing off any real superstition.
McLaren might want to make his 2013 booking immediately, with Red Bull`s double world champion Sebastian Vettel quickly identifying a room for improvement after finishing second.
"Next year you get a different one," he told Button in the post-race news conference.
Light-hearted banter aside, Melbourne provided the shake-up that Formula One needed after a year of domination by Vettel and his team.
The weekend answered some of the more immediate questions and offered the real prospect of a thrilling and close-fought title battle with an unprecedented six champions all showing they could scrap for points.
A triumph of beauty over the beasts, with McLaren`s elegant car standing out in a field of broken-nosed rivals, McLaren shoved the Red Bulls off the front row of the grid for the first time since 2010.
Lewis Hamilton took pole alongside Button, who then forced Vettel to relinquish the championship lead for the first time since he won his first crown in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
The 24-year-old German still silenced those critics who, after he chalked up a record 15 poles in 19 races last season, had doubted his overtaking abilities.
Lessons To Learn
Red Bull were confident they had lost only a skirmish with the real battles still to be fought.
"There have been some lessons to learn and we`ve been working hard to get on top of those," said team boss Christian Horner.
"I think the potential of this car is strong, there`s a lot of stuff in the pipeline and from now to Brazil will be a development race all the way to the end of the year."
Former champions Williams failed to score points but showed they were back in business, after their worst ever season, with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado challenging for fifth place until he crashed on the last lap.
Ferrari too will take some consolation from the knowledge they can always count on Fernando Alonso to ride to the rescue, even if his car behaves more like a mule than a stallion.
Lotus, the former Renault team whose pre-season times had failed to convince some who detected glory runs to impress potential sponsors, showed they were truly quick.
Romain Grosjean was third in qualifying for Lotus and returning champion Kimi Raikkonen charged from 17th to seventh in the race.
Malaysia next weekend offers a very different challenge, with its humidity and fast corners, but the main positions are established.
Ferrari have work to do but the other top teams have quick cars while Button has started the season looking like a genuine contender.
"People underestimate him, he`s such a calm, mature and easygoing fellow that people don`t realise necessarily the hunger that`s in him to compete and to win," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
"I think he`s just got stronger and stronger since he`s been in our team and he must now fancy his chances for a real championship assault this year."