Australian Grand Prix – Lap by Lap Race Report

McLaren s Lewis Hamilton will start the today s Australian Grand Prix from pole position. The 2007 World Championship runner-up will join BMW Sauber s Robert Kubica on the front-row with new team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen back in third.

The Australian Grand Prix around the 5.3km Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, marks the start of the 2008 Championship. The 58-lap race will take place in dry conditions, with track temperature around fifty one degrees, thirteen degrees hotter than during qualifying as is air temperature of thirty seven.

After problems with fuel pressurisation during qualifying, current World Champion Raikkonen will start from fifteenth. Timo Glock of Toyota has taken a ten place drop for a gearbox change, and for blocking Webber during qualifying. Adrian Sutil of the new Force India team will start from the pits after an engine and chassis change. Home boy Mark Webber starts from fourteenth after a spin during qualifying.

The start should be electric, with drivers starting without traction control those on the left side of the grid, the cleaner line, may have an advantage.

Massa, Raikkonen and Glock will start the race on the softer tyres this may give them an advantage off the line. Hamilton backs the pack right up ahead of the start, so his car doesn t have to sit in the awesome Melbourne heat for any longer than it has to.

Lap 1 58 remaining Raikkonen goes from fifteenth to eighth during the first lap. A number of cars make contact at the start. Vettel, Button and Fisichella retire after a first corner smash, Massa drops it out of turn one and hits the barrier. Davidson is squashed by Webber, both retire. Button and Webber get back to the pits. Ferrari change the front wing of Massa s car and he rejoins.

56 remaining Safety car pulls in. Hamilton holds position. Massa refuels.

54 remaining Raikkonen 10.7 seconds behind the leaders, now stuck behind Barrichello in the Honda. Hamilton leads Kubica by 2.6 seconds. Kovalainen leads Rosberg in third, 2.5 seconds behind the BMW Sauber. Massa is running last.

50 remaining Raikkonen closes down Barrichello, but is now twenty seconds behind Lewis Hamilton. Kovalainen is catching Kubica. Nakajima passes Piquet for position.

48 remaining Sutil is pushed into his pit garage. Top eight include, Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Trulli, Barrichello and Raikkonen.

47 remaining Sutil retires.

44 remaining Hamilton leads Kubica by over ten seconds.

43 remaining BMW Sauber mechanics are out in the pit-lane. Kubica pits and takes on the harder compound tyre. He rejoins behind Raikkonen and Barrichello. Raikkonen continues to hassle the Brazilian. Massa passes Nakajima.

40 remaining Hamilton pits and also takes on the harder compound tyres. He rejoins in fourth behind Heidfeld. Raikkonen finally passes Barrichello for sixth. He is now fifteen seconds behind Hamilton following his stop.

38 remaining Trulli retires meanwhile Massa passes Sato for twelfth.

37 remaining Rosberg and Heidfeld pit. Heidfeld gets ahead, and Rosberg is also passed by Coulthard and Alonso when they join the track.

36 remaining Kovalainen pits and rejoins just ahead of Raikkonen. Raikkonen was beginning to reign in Hamilton.

35 remaining Barrichello and Coulthard pit together.

33 remaining Massa puts his car up the inside of Coulthard and launches the Scott into the air. Safety car deployed. Raikkonen looks to enter the pit, but decides against it as the pits are closed.

30 remaining Drivers may now pit and lapped drivers may pass the safety car. Alonso pits along with Kubica Alonso was almost out of fuel. Raikkonen does not pit.

29 remaining Safety car comes in. Raikkonen slips behind Kovalainen and outbrakes himself into turn three. Kimi drops to last after returning from the gravel trap. Massa retires to the side of the racetrack.

28 remaining Raikkonen pits. Piquet retires.

27 remaining Sato retires. Eleven cars remain.

26 remaining Alonso starts to hassle Kubica, who is four seconds slower than Hamilton.

18 remaining Hamilton loses half a second to Kovalainen, but continues to lead. Raikkonen catches the pack again after his pit stop and off-track excursion.

16 remaining Heidfeld closes down Kovalainen for second, currently 1.7 seconds behind. Raikkonen gets a tyre onto the grass at turn three and spins as he continues to try and pass Glock.

14 remaining Heidfeld pits and Kovalainen sets the fastest lap of the race. Glock crashes hard in tenth and the safety car is deployed.

13 remaining Barrichello pulls over the refuelling mechanic after the lollipop man makes an error and releases the Honda too early. It is questionable whether Barrichello should have been in the pits under a safety car anyway. However, it appears that the Honda was almost empty so it was a case of either run out of fuel or take a penalty.

12 remaining Ten cars remain. Kovalainen and Alonso pit. Raikkonen is now in eighth.

11 remaining Safety car comes in. Nakajima and Kubica pit, both change front wings. Kubica retires.

9 remaining Raikkonen falls back from sixth to eighth. Barrichello takes his penalty. Raikkonen lost the positions as Kovalainen passed him, also allowing Alonso to overtake.

7 remaining Raikkonen is slowing, six seconds slower last lap and the engine sounds rough. Current positions are Hamilton, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Bourdais, Alonso, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Barrichello and Nakajima.

4 remaining Kovalainen fights with Alonso over fifth. Raikkonen retires at the end of the pit lane.

3 remaining Bourdais retires from fourth in his Toro Rosso with engine failure.

1 remaining Kovalainen passes Alonso, but loses drive out of the corner only for Fernando to retake the position.

Finish Lewis Hamilton wins his fifth victory, the first for McLaren in Australia since 2003. Heidfeld finishes second, Rosberg takes his first podium in third, Alonso fourth and Kovalainen fifth. Barrichello and Nakajima finish sixth and seventh. Bourdais takes the last place despite retiring from the race.

However, Barrichello is likely to be disqualified after leaving the pits under the red light. This will elevate Nakajima to sixth, Bourdais seventh and Raikkonen eighth.