Australian GP 2008
MARCH 16, 2008
Race Notes - Hamilton dominates Australian GP
Lewis Hamilton dominated the Australian Grand Prix in his McLaren-Mercedes to take the first race of the 2008 season, while a chaotic race ensued behind the young British driver. Nick Heidfeld was second, 5.4 seconds behind the winner, in his BMW Sauber and Nico Rosberg was third, 8.1 seconds behind, in his Williams-Toyota - his first podium finish.
Fernando Alonso finished fourth in the Renault, followed by Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren-Mercedes in fifth. Rubens Barrichello in the Honda finished sixth but was later excluded from the results after rejoining from the pitlane exit while the red light was on, thus handing sixth to Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams-Toyota. Sebastien Bourdais in his F1 debut finished in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari in seventh place - despite retiring with an engine failure three laps from the finish. World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who also was not running at the finish, ended up in the final points paying position in eighth.
The race had only eight official finishers - one less than the the 2006 United States Grand Prix.
Before the start, Nico Rosberg goes off on the way to the grid, but makes it to his starting spot in without any apparent damage. Adrian Sutil will start from the pitlane in the spare chassis, and Timo Glock drops ten spots to 18th after a gearbox change.
At the start, Hamilton took the lead into the first corner from Kubica and Kovalainen, while Massa spins and make contact with the outside wall, damaging his front wing, while further back more contact with multiple cars coming together, Fisichella and Vettel out on the spot, and Webber, Davidson, Button, Nakajima and Webber limping to the pits, and the Safety Car coming out.
Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the first lap is up from 15th to eighth place.
On lap three the race restarts with Hamilton leading Kubica, Kovalainen Rosberg, Heidfeld, Trulli, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Coulthard and Alonso in tenth - Massa running at the back in 17th.
On lap 9 Nakajima passes Piquet for 14th place, while Sutil retires to the pits.
Hamilton puts in a string of fast laps, and at lap 10, leads Kubica by 7.6 seconds.
On lap 12, Massa passes Piquet for 15th place.
On lap 15, Glock passes Sato for 11th place after the Japanese driver makes a slight mistake.
On lap 16, Kubica pits from second place, rejoining in 8th, followed by race leader Hamilton on lap 18 - Kovalainen taking over the lead, while Raikkonen passes Barrichello for 6th place.
At lap 20, the order was Kovalainen 9.4 seconds ahead of Rosberg, Heidfeld, Hamilton, Trulli, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Kubica, Coulthard and Alonso in tenth.
On lap 21, Trulli pits from 5th place and retires. Meanwihle Rosberg and Heidfeld pit - Heidfeld passing the Williams coming out of the pits.
On lap 22, Kovalainen pits from the lead, along with Coulthard. Alonso gets past Rosberg on cold tyres.
On lap 23 Barrichello pits from fourth place. Raikkonen closes on Kovalainen in second place, still having not made his first stop.
At lap 25 Hamilton leads Kovalainen by 12.6 seconds, followed by Raikkonen, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Rosberg, Barrichello, Glock, Coulthard and Massa in 11th place.
On lap 26 Massa tries to pass Coulthard for 10th place into the first corner - the two coming together with Coulthard getting punted into the gravel trap. The Safety Car is deployed - Raikkonen and Alonso trying to save fuel as they have yet to make their first stops.
The pitlane opens on lap 29, and Kubica, Alonso, Glock and Nakajima pit - Raikkonen and Piquet still have not made their first stops.
On lap 30 the Safety Car comes in and the race restarts. On the second corner Raikkonen passes Kovalainen for second, but brakes too late and doesn't make the corner and drives through the gravel trap. Later in the lap Massa pulls off the track and retires. Raikkonen making his first stop at the end of the lap.
On lap 31 Piquet's Renault stops on the side of the circuit.
At lap 32 Sato pulls off the track and retires.
At lap 33 Hamilton leads Kovalainen by 3.4 seconds, followed by Heidfeld, Rosberg, Barrichello, Bourdais, Kubica, Alonso, Nakajima, Glock and Raikkonen in 11th.
Alonso closes on Kubica in a battle for 7th place, while both close on Bourdais in 6th.
At lap 40 the order remained the same, with Hamilton's lead up to 5.9 seconds.
On lap 42 Raikkonen closes on Glock, but puts a tyre off while braking and spins - rejoining still in 11th.
On lap 43 race leader Hamilton and Rosberg pit, followed by Heidfeld on lap 44.
On lap 45 Timo Glock runs off the exit of a corner, losing control in the grass and crashes - bringing out the Safety Car. The young German getting out of the car.
On lap 46 Barrichello pits - the fuel hose getting stuck as the team released the Brazilian, but luckily disconnecting as he leaves. There is question whether Barrichello left the pitlane with the red light on - the FIA investigating the situation.
Under the Safety Car, Kovalainen and Alonso make their final stops.
On lap 48 the Safety Car comes in and the race restarts with 10 laps to go. Kubica and Nakajima pitting with damage, Kubica retiring.
Meanwhile on the track Hamilton leads Heidfeld, Rosberg, Bourdais, Kovalainen, Alons, Raikkonen and Barrichello falling to 8th after a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.
On lap 49 Alonso passes Kovalainen for 5th.
On lap 52 Raikkonen's car is ailing, the Finn laptimes slowing.
Bourdais, Alonso and Kovalainen battling for fourth place.
On lap 54 Raikkonen pulls off the track and retires from 7th place.
On lap 56 Bourdais' Toro Rosso coming to a smokey stop from fourth place with an engine failure, the rookies impressive debut coming to an end.
On lap 57 Kovalainen passes Alonso for fourth, but Alonso passes him back on the next straight.
An hour after the race finished, Rubens Barrichello is disqualified for exiting the pit lane while the red light was on.