SPOILER ALERT: thrills, chills and spills at the Australian Grand Prix

If you TiVo'd today's F1 season opener from Melbourne, Australia, don't read any further or it will spoil the race for you. But not to worry, you'd be in good company as the race was spoiled for just about everyone else, too. Everyone except for Mercedes, whose star driver Lewis Hamilton claimed a flawless victory, his new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen narrowly escaping the completion of a one-two finish for McLaren, while spectators at Albert Park saw little else other than the new Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG safety car.

While the McLaren drivers escaped unscathed, the rest of the race was packed with more early retirements than a plant closure. Out of the 22 cars that started the race, only seven finished. At the first corner of the first lap, Jenson Button (Honda), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri) and Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) all collided in a spectacular six-car pile-up, forcing each of the drivers to retire one after the other. Ferrari's duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa also retired early after mounting difficult campaigns, with Kimi finally being awarded a point as Honda's Rubens Barrichello was disqualified for a pit-lane mishap. BMW's Nick Heidfeld had a strong race, finishing second behind Hamilton, while Williams' Nico Rosberg claimed his first podium in third place. Perhaps most impressive, however, was Sebastien Bourdais. The four-time Champ Car champion and newcomer to F1 was set to cross the finish line behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso in fourth place on a brilliantly-timed one-stop strategy, only to retire when his Ferrari engine failed three laps before the end. With no one else completing the race behind him, the Frenchman finished his first race in the points, behind Williams' Kazuki Nakajima (the last to actually finish the race) and Raikkonen.

Follow the link for more details on the 2008 Australian Grand Prix, and stay tuned next week as the F1 circus moves on to Malaysia.

[Source: Autosport]

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