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Hamilton stays clear of chaos in F1 opener

MELBOURNE, Australia — Lewis Hamilton made it look easy Sunday.

Last year's Formula One runner­up ran away with an accident-filled Australian Grand Prix to open the season.

"What a dream start to the season and my championship challenge," the Briton said. "The three safety car periods meant that there was never time to relax, and the whole situation was like a bit like Canada last year when I claimed my first victory."

The McLaren driver, 23, started from the pole and stayed ahead of the mayhem for his fifth victory in 18 starts in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 50.616 seconds. BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was 5.4 seconds back and Williams' Nico Rosberg was third, 8.1 seconds behind.

Four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, a former St. Petersburg resident, impressed in his F1 debut before the engine in his Toro Rosso failed with two laps to go. He was awarded seventh, worth two points.

"At the start I was down the order and running quite heavy (on fuel), and I was struggling a bit," Bourdais said. "But then I got the hang of things … it was an excellent start."

Defending series champion Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari ran out of gas with five laps to go. But he got one point when Rubens Barrichello was disqualified from sixth place because he left the pits while the exit lights were red.

The race ended at the first corner for four cars, with Giancarlo Fisichella skidding off in the Force India team's debut.

Hamilton stays clear of chaos in F1 opener 03/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:40am]
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