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Last Updated: Friday March 27 2009 09:26 GMT

Poor start for Formula One champ

Lewis Hamilton during the practice laps in Melbourne

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton got off to a disappointing start as the new season roared to life in Melbourne.

During practice laps ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, the 24-year-old came just 16th in his first lap before dropping to 18th in his second.

He's already admitted the first half of the season could be a struggle.

The practice sessions got under way as officials rejected complaints by some teams about some of their rivals' cars.

All the cars have had bits redesigned and improved for the new season.

Williams driver Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg clocked up the fastest laps in the practice sessions

Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault claimed an important bit at the back of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams' cars broke the sports new rules, but officials disagreed.

The protesting teams have now said they will appeal against the decision.

Back on the practice session and Williams driver Nico Rosberg clocked up the fastest laps, supporting the theory that they're one of the teams to watch out for this season.

Rule changes

Meanwhile, a plan to change the rules to decide who'll be crowned world champion has been scrapped.

Officials wanted the winner to be the driver who wins the most races, instead of the one who gets the most points, but they changed their minds after some of the teams complained.

Cash and speed

There are more changes on the way in 2010, which will affect how much money teams spend on their cars.

Teams can either spend less money and have fewer restrictions on how they build their cars to help them go faster, or spend as much as they like, but stick to special rules that could slow them down.