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Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the first race of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship. After a turbulent 58 laps (307.574 kms) with three Safety Car periods, Lewis won with 5.4 seconds ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg. Lewis’ new team mate Heikki Kovalainen, who led for eight laps and ran second for 21 laps, came home fifth. It was the fifth Grand Prix victory for Lewis. Both drivers were on two-stop strategies. Lewis pitted on laps 18 (9.2 seconds) and 43 (8.6 seconds); Heikki came in on laps 22 (9 seconds) and 47 (8 seconds). After the first of 18 Grands Prix, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes lead the Constructors’ World Championship with 14 points ahead of BMW Sauber and Williams Toyota with 8 points each. Lewis took the lead in the drivers’ ranking with 10 points ahead of Heidfeld (8) and Rosberg (6).
2008 Australien Formula 1 Grand Prix - The start
LEWIS HAMILTON: “I feel fantastic – what a dream start to the season and my championship challenge. I am sorry not to have Heikki with me on the podium as a one-two would have been a great reward to the team. It’s nice to have Nico here though as we have not shared a podium since our Karting days with Team MBM (Mercedes-Benz McLaren). It was a super race which I controlled from the beginning. I was able to drive at a steady pace without feeling any pressure which is always the ideal situation when you are leading. The three Safety Car periods meant that there was never 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 which was super. The car is fantastic to drive and the team has done a superb job. I have prepared much better this year than last, and it’s important that myself and the team continue to push hard in the months to come.”

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