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Hamilton the terminator in Melbourne as defeated Rosberg vows "I'll be back"

Lewis Hamilton began his title defence in perfect style in Melbourne as he led team-mate Nico Rosberg home for a comfortable one-two finish for Me...

Hamilton the terminator in Melbourne as defeated Rosberg vows "I'll be back"

Lewis Hamilton began his title defence in perfect style in Melbourne as he led team-mate Nico Rosberg home for a comfortable one-two finish for Mercedes, while Sebastian Vettel scored a podium on his Ferrari debut.

Hamilton was untroubled throughout the 58 laps, the Englishman taking his 34th career win and his first in Australia since 2008 without ever having to endure a sustained threat from Rosberg.

It's the reigning world champion's seventh win in the last eight races, stretching back into last season.

"It is an incredible feeling to continue winning," he said afterwards to podium interviewer Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"My team did an amazing job today and it's an incredible feeling to win and also to be here with you, man. I thought you were taller!"

Rosberg admitted that there was little he could do about Hamilton's pace, praising the world champion and vowing to take the fight to him throughout the season.

"I was trying every lap to my maximum and I will do all year," the German said. "I will give him a big run for his money and hopefully beat him."

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

There was a high attrition rate, with only 11 finishers and only 13 cars still running after the opening stages. Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat failed to reach true grid after breaking down on the parade lap, while Valtteri Bottas did not start after being ruled out by the FIA due to back injury.

It was an excellent day for the rookies, with Sauber's Felipe Nasr scoring 10 points for Sauber on his debut and Carlos Sainz 2pts. It would have been more for the Spaniard had he not lost over 30 seconds with a botched pit stop.

After an early safety car to clear Pastor Maldonado's crashed Lotus, Hamilton immediately leaped clear to a 2.4 second lead at the end of the first racing lap and thereafter, while the gap fluctuated, the Englishman was able to manage the difference between them.

Behind the flying silver arrows, things were altogether more fraught for most of the teams in what turned out to be a battle for survival for most squads.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Sebastian Vettel edged the battle between Ferrari and Williams when he tracked Felipe Massa to their single pit stop and jumped the Brazilian in the two laps before he came in on lap 24.

"It feels great, it's a big honour to be up here for Ferrari, and I'm very happy to have a great start to the season after a good winter," said Vettel. "We can be very proud. We have a great car – there is a lot of work ahead of us to beat these [Mercedes] guys."

Massa finished just over four seconds behind a podium position but almost a full minute clear of the star of the race Felipe Nasr who led Sauber home for an extraordinary double points finish.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Nasr was star rookie, slotting in behind Carlos Sainz in sixth at the beginning before jumping the Toro Rosso debutant at the restart from the early safety car and thereafter racing with panache to hold Daniel Ricciardo, Sainz and Kimi Raikkonen behind him throughout the run to the first pit stops.

The Sauber driver built a solid gap to Sainz in the first stint and maintained his advantage over Ricciardo's Red Bull at the pit stops to record Sauber's first points since Brazil 2013. His team-mate Marcus Ericsson passed Sainz with two laps to go for eighth to give the Swiss team a massive boost following the legal wrangles that blighted their weekend preparation.

Ricciardo's sixth place finish was the best Red Bull could salvage from a torrid weekend, the local hero over 12 seconds behind Nasr but over half a minute ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who had a quiet run to a very valuable seventh place finish for Force India.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

His team-mate Sergio Perez had a much busier afternoon spending much of the opening stint trying to find a way past Jenson Button's McLaren Honda whose never-say-die efforts to keep the Mexican behind was one of the highlights.

Perez clipped the McLaren and spun at turn three on lap 14 but eventually found a way past the Englishman for tenth on lap 43 to make it double points finishes for two of F1's most cash strapped squads.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Button ended the day 11th, the only non points finisher which seemed cruel after a heroic effort in his underpowered machine but recording a race finish will feel like a triumph for Woking.

Kimi Raikkonen's weekend was one to forget for Ferrari. Pipped by Vettel in qualifying, he was muscled down to eighth at the start and after fighting his way past Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo his hopes of a high finish came to nought when he stopped out on track shortly after his second stop where there had been a delay fitting the Finn's left rear wheel.

Max Verstappen's hopes of a points scoring debut at 17 were dashed when he stopped with smoke billowing from the back of his Toro Rosso shortly after he made his one and only pit stop while running comfortably in the top ten.

It had been a race of attrition even before the start. Williams were down to one car when Valtteri Bottas failed a FIA pre-race fitness test following the disc tear in his lower back sustained on Saturday moving everyone behind sixth up a place.

Then both Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen left gaps when the Red Bull's gearbox failed on the run to the grid while Magnussen's Honda engine appeared to expire comprehensively on his reconnaissance laps.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

After qualifying two cars in the top ten, the Lotus team's hopes of a better start to the season than last year were dashed with both cars out on the first lap.

Pastor Maldonado was caught up in the chain reaction caused when the two Ferraris touched at turn one at the start. Carlos Sainz's Toro Rosso in turn clipped Maldonado who ended up hitting the turn two barrier. Meanwhile Romain Grosjean was very slow away and retired to the garage with a "loss of power" as the safety car appeared at the end of lap one.

2015 Australian Grand Prix - Race

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h31m54.067s

2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes -7.640

3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 25.523s

4 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 29.196s

5 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m26.149s

6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1 Lap

7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap

8 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap

9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap

10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap

11 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 2 Laps

- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Retirement

- Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault Retirement

- Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda Not started

- Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes Withdrawn

- Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault Not started

- Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes Retirement

- Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes Collision

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