• Australian Grand Prix 2008

Hamilton off to a flier

ESPNF1 Staff
March 16, 2008
Lewis Hamilton got a good start and went on to win the race © Sutton Images
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Stung into an immediate championship attack after having lost the 2007 drivers crown, Lewis Hamilton opened his account in style by dominating the Australian Grand Prix.

The Englishman qualified his McLaren on pole his only real competition seemed to be team mate Heikki Kovalainen. Kovalainen should have been second but lost out under a safety car when, prevented by the regulations from pitting, he was forced to do an extra lap. The field became bunched up behind him on the in-lap and, after pitting, Kovalainen dropped to ninth.

The safety car played into the hands of others, such as Nick Heidfeld who bagged second after a disappointing start, and Nico Rosberg who lifted Williams' spirits by taking third. In contrast, reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen was accident-prone, sliding off the road when trying to pass Kovalainen and then spinning while harassing the Toyota of Timo Glock. Engine failure finally ended his embarrassment.

It was a race of very high attrition with only seven of the 22 cars making it to the chequered flag, later this number dropped to six when Ruben Barrichello was disqualified for exiting the pit lane on a red light. Kazuki Nakajima also received a ten place grid penalty, to be served in Malaysia, after colliding with BMW's Robert Kubica on lap 48.

For Hamilton, it had been an easy afternoon. He had set himself up as the benchmark for the opposition.

"I felt fantastic," said Hamilton "I never thought it would have been as physically a breeze as it was. It is great preparation for Malaysia so bring it on." He also commented on his teams' strategy "They did a fantastic job as always, but pulling me in early on both my pit-stops really did help us in terms of safety cars and kept us out of trouble."

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