MELBOURNE – McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton avoided the mayhem around him to open the Formula One season with a pole-to-flag victory in a crash-strewn Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton cruised to the finish line ahead of BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld and fellow German Nico Rosberg in a Williams to strike first blood in the 18-race F1 campaign.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg celebrated the first podium of his Formula One career with third place for Williams in a sweltering race that saw only seven of the 22 starters still running at the finish and neither Ferrari reach the chequered flag.
“Coming into a new season, turning over a new leaf, we really wanted to get off on the right foot,” said Hamilton, who missed out on the title last year by a single point to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
“It’s quite different to my first win in Montreal, just because that was really not expected,” he added.
“This win perhaps feels better than any because I feel I’ve improved in many areas.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the perfect win… but I think in terms of managing my tyres, controlling my pace and confidence and being comfortable in the car, it’s the best race I’ve had so far,” Hamilton said.
With traction control and electronic driver aids now banned, the safety car was deployed three times. Through it all, Hamilton lapped in a league of his own to chalk up his fifth win in just 18 starts