MELBOURNE, Australia — McLaren driver Jenson Button won the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, taking the race Down Under for the third time in four years.
Button beat reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull by 2.1 seconds after the race turned into a 17-lap shootout after Vitaly Petrov stopped on the main straight, bringing out the safety car.
Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was third, just ahead of Mark Webber of Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth, with Williams' Pastor Maldonado hitting a wall while chasing the Spaniard.
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher held third place for the opening nine laps but ran wide over the grass at turn one under pressure from Vettel, and soon after retired with a gear problem.
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