Hamilton eases to victory in Australian Grand Prix
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Lewis Hamilton yesterday began his reign as champion of the world with the most comfortable of drives to victory in the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton had this one and Nico Rosberg in his pocket throughout.
The two-time champion eased to take the chequered flag, keeping his Mercedes teammate comfortably at bay. Worryingly for Rosberg, he had no answers to his rival's superior pace all weekend.
Sebastian Vettel, in his first race for Ferrari, overcame Felipe Massa to take the final podium spot. Felipe Nasr, one of several rookies to impress, finished fifth after a turbulent weekend of legal battles for Sauber. The team have 14 points and are third in the constructors' championship after ending last year with none.
Unsurprisingly, given their dire qualifying display, Jenson Button finished dead last for McLaren. At least he made it to the end.
In truth, there was probably more action for the packed crowd before the race and on the podium than during. First there was the news that Valtteri Bottas, Williams' young star, was out with a back spasm. Then mechanical gremlins conspired to produce just 15 cars at the start, the lowest in a season-opener since 1963.
On his way to the grid Kevin
Magnussen's McLaren began spewing oil and smoke after barely 500m. Hardly a surprise, but still more ignominy for the beleaguered McLaren-Honda operation.
More alarmingly at the front of the grid, Red Bull's nightmare weekend reached new lows. Daniil Kvyat stumbled across the gravel before a gearbox problem brought his race to an end before it began.
The start of the race itself kept the crowd entertained for a few corners. Hamilton made the perfect getaway from Rosberg, while the Ferraris duelled behind.
Vettel squeezed Raikkonen on to the grass, and when the Finn returned, he stumbled into Marcus Ericsson, forcing Pastor Maldonado off the road and into the wall. At least this time, unlike many crashes before, it wasn't his fault. His teammate, Romain Grosjean, lost power on lap one, reducing the pack to a meagre 13.
The race quickly settled down, with Hamilton leading comfortably. Massa held third, but lost out to Vettel in the stops.
At the back meanwhile, Button was not letting the McLaren's tortoise pace get him down. He fought on, keeping Sergio Perez at bay. The Mexican tried a characteristically untidy move, careering into the side of the McLaren. Both survived and plodded on.
1. Lewis Hamilton (ENG/MER) 1hr 31min 54.067sec
2. Nico Rosberg (GER/MER) +1.360
3. Sebastian Vettel (GER/FER) 34.523
4. Felipe Massa (BRA/WIL) 38.196
5. Felipe Nasr (BRA/SAU) 1min 35.149.