Lewis Hamilton got his Formula One world championship attempt off to a perfect start with an easy win in the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne.
Hamilton dominated from pole position, with only seven cars finishing the 58-lap race. He won 5.4 seconds ahead of BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.
Nico Rosberg finished third for the Williams team.
It was a disastrous day for Ferrari with both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa failing to finish the race, which was marred by some spectacular crashes.
Hamilton told the McLaren team on his radio, “Fantastic job. The car was incredible. Thanks very much.”
The British McLaren driver made a clean start from pole position. First corner problems also saw Ferraris’ Felipe Massa head for the pits as he lost out in a battle for third with Heikki Kovalainen.
Four other cars, including Jenson Button’s Honda and Anthony Davidson in the Super Aguri, were forced to retire.
But it was Hamilton’s day, and the season gets off to a familiar start — at least if last season’s opening races are anything to go by.
“It was a super race and I dominated it from the beginning,” Hamilton said later. “I was able to drive at a steady pace without feeling any pressure. The three safety car periods meant there was never a time to relax and the whole situation was a bit like Canada last year when I claimed my first victory. We constantly had to change our strategy and the strategists were on the ball throughout. The car was fantastic to drive and we must keep on pushing because Ferrari are a great team and will do a good job.”
The first three were :
1. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 58 laps one hour 34 minutes 50.616 seconds
2. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber +5.478 secs
3. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota +8.163