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Sports

Lewis Hamilton eases to win in Formula One season opener

Last year's drivers' championship winner Lewis Hamilton led the first Grand Prix of 2015 from start to finish, beating Nico Rosberg comfortably. But, the race in Melbourne had a strange beginning.

World champion Lewis Hamilton dominated the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday from the first corner, crossing the line 1.3 seconds ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

Germany's Sebastian Vettel finished third in his first race for Ferrari, more than 34 seconds behind the dominant Mercedes duo.

At the Albert Park track there was little overtaking throughout the 58 laps, with only Felipe Nasr managing a cheeky move late on in the piece to gather fifth spot, behind Felipe Massa.

Speaking on the podium after the race - in interview with guest of honor film star Arnold Schwarzenegger - Rosberg said that Hamilton was just too good.

"Lewis drove like a world champion today but I was driving to the max every lap and I will be doing my best to give this guy a big run for his money."

Lewis Hamilton drives out of the pits in Melbourne

For Hamilton it was his seventh win in his last eight races

Vettel back in business

With his third-place finish Germany's four time world champion Sebastian Vettel put in a strong performance for his new team Ferrari.

Vettel struggled with his team Red Bull last season, failing to win a single race in 2014 despite being the defending world champion.

After crossing the line in Melbourne, the 27-year-old cheered "Forza Ferrari" to his mechanics over the team radio.

"That was a great start, we can be very proud," he said later. "It isn't a win, but it feels like one."

Strange start

Only 15 cars started in Melbourne - the lowest for a season-opening race since 1963. In the end, only 11 drivers finished - with McLaren's Jenson Button the only finisher not to gather any drivers' championship points.

Two cars were even forced to withdraw with technical problems as they made their way to the start grid.

The next Formula One race will take place in Malaysia on March 29.

al/ng (AP, dpa)