Giancarlo Fisichella's first race for Renault provided the dream start as the Italian claimed his second Grand Prix victory in the opening race of the season in Australia.
Starting from pole, Fisichella led fellow front-row starter Jarno Trulli in his Toyota with a quick-starting David Coulthard bagging third at turn one in his Red Bull.
Trulli could not sustain his early pace, though, and fell back into the clutches of a charging Rubens Barrichello who forced his way through from 11th on the grid to secure second place.
Barrichello's Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher had been a casualty of the new aggregated qualifying system as a poor time in a rain-affected Q1 put him ninth on the grid and then an engine change incurred a 10-place grid drop. Insult was added to injury when the new engine went pop on lap 16.
A sterling charge was posted by the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen. Having stalled on the grid, the Finn was forced to start from the pit lane and battled up to eighth place to claim the last championship point in a race that boasted four rookie drivers: Tiago Monteiro, Patrick Friesacher, Narain Karthikeyan and Christijan Albers.