Jenson Button’s first race weekend since the death of his father John was always going to be a tough one emotionally for the 2009 world champion, but he did his best at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The McLaren driver’s hopes of a fourth win at Albert Park were all but dashed in qualifying when Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen crashed and brought out the yellow flags toward the end of a rainy session.
Condemned to start 10th on the grid, the 34-year-old Button worked patiently through the traffic to finish fourth on the track but ended up third, after Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified.
With Danish rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen taking Ricciardo’s second place on a brilliant debut, McLaren had two drivers together on the podium for the first time since China in April 2012.
“Yesterday was a painful day because I wanted to do really well for him,” Button said of his father, a constant source of support and popular paddock regular, who died in January.
“It’s been a tough weekend emotionally, I’m not the sort of a person who likes to show it in front of a TV camera.
“I don’t think that’s right. So in the background it’s very, very tough. But I’ve had the most amazing support from the paddock. My family, friends…it really does mean a lot.
“He’ll have a big smile on his face looking down and knowing that everyone’s talking about him right now. He loved that.”
Button battled hard to beat his 21-year-old teammate, but Magnussen showed him a clean pair of heels.
“It’s a great day for us,” said Button before Ricciardo’s exclusion was announced.
“A great result for the whole team, Kevin drove really well. First podium, first race. I was fighting all the way to chase him down and also Daniel at the end. But there just wasn’t quite enough in the tyres.” (Reuters)
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