Australian GP: McLaren Mercedes race report

2008 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 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...

2008 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

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).

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."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

"Obviously my competitiveness was better than the result shows. Unfortunately the last Safety Car phase prevented me from finishing second. Nevertheless I enjoyed the whole weekend working with the team on such a professional high level. My start was OK but during the first stint I had a bit of graining on the tyres, but it didn't affect me too much. In my second stint and especially in the last part of the race my car was really good and I was flying. I had a great battle first with Kimi and then Fernando which I really enjoyed. I managed to get past Fernando but then as I tore off a visor strip on the main straight I accidentally hit the pit lane speed limiter button and Fernando managed to get past me again. I am pleased but also a bit disappointed as we were looking strong for a one-two finish today."

RON DENNIS

"An almost perfect race weekend for us. Lewis drove a faultless race with a strong strategy where his stops were timed in anticipation of possible Safety Car periods. We were keen for Heikki to go an extra lap before his second stop in case he had any problems in the pits so that he could still be ahead of Nick. Unfortunately the last Safety Car period cost him second place. He showed what a great racing driver he is with his overtaking of Kimi and Fernando, but unfortunately as he reached to clean his visor he hit the pitlane speed limiter and lost a position. As a team we have enjoyed a competitive weekend but there is a long way to go and we never underestimate our competition."

NORBERT HAUG

"A dream start to the season and all our hard work could not have been better rewarded. We started McLaren-Mercedes' 222nd race from our 55th pole position and this was our 53rd victory -- for sure one of our nicest. We had Lewis pit earlier to avoid running into the danger of a Safety Car phase. Unfortunately the Safety Car came out when we wanted to call in Heikki. That is a pity for him as he drove a great race in his debut for the team. However it's only a matter of time before he will get a better reward on the track than today."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams