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Albert Park, Melbourne, 14-16 March
The Chequered Flag podcast



Positions after 58 of 58 laps:

1. L Hamilton (McLaren)

2. N Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)

3. N Rosberg (Williams)

4. F Alonso (Renault)

5. H Kovalainen (McLaren)

DQ R Barrichello (Honda)

6. K Nakajima (Williams)


By Ian Hughes

Lap 58: Hamilton takes the chequered flag and makes it a winning start to the 2008 season.

You beauty go on Lewis my son!
Graeme, edinburgh, via text

Congratulations Lewis to a job well done
Anon, via text

Lap 57: Kovalainen and Alonso swap places. Two stunning overtaking moves - but the standings between the pair remain the same.

Lap 56: Bourdias' superb start to formula one has been ended by engine failure just two laps from the finish. A real shame for the Frenchman.

Lap 54: Kovalainen is swarming all over Alonso but cannot pass. But the race is over for Raikkonen, who crawls into the pit lane. Lap 53: As things stand, Williams driver Nico Rosberg is set to achieve his first podium finish.

Lap 52: Up at the front, Hamilton looks all set to start the season in perfect style with a victory. He is 3.5 seconds ahead of Heidfeld and needs only to keep his cool.

Lap 50: Alonso is on the charge and up to fifth. The two-trime world champion is profiting from an incident-packed race that has seen 13 drivers retrie.

Lap 48: Robert Kubica is the latest to reitre. He is forced out after a crash with Nakajima.

Lap 47: And the race restarts. News comes in that the Honda mechanic who was sent flying by Barrichello has suffered no damage. However, Barrichello has to return to the pits to serve a 10-second penalty.

Lap 46: As well as his embarrassment after the incident with the fuel line, Barrichello also faces a penalty after taking his car into the pit lane when the safety car was out.

Lap 44: Timo Glock is out of the race. He runs wide and is on the grass but the car hits a ridge, flies up into the air and spins violently up the track, spraying debris all over the place. The safety car is deployed again.

Barrichello pulls out of the pits while his Honda still has the fuel line attached. As the Brazilian pulls away the rear of his car sends one of the mechanics sprawling. There is fuel all over the pit lane.

Lap 43: Hamilton goes into the pits.

Lap 42: Raikkonen goes wide at turn three and puts one wheel into the dirt, losing all grip and again going off track.

Lap 40: The drivers wil getting really tired now, and so will their equipment.
BBC Five Live analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 38: Raikkonen is 46 seconds behind Hamilton. It is proving to be a nightmare start to the new season for the reigning world champion.

Lap 36: Leader Hamilton is now 5.5 seconds ahead of Kovalainen. There are now only 11 drivers out on the track - just 50% of the starting field.

Lap 35: Kubica seems to be running a one-stop strategy, and that means his car is loaded with fuel. It makes him vulnerable to Alonso, who is less than half a second behind him.

Lap 32: After a manic few laps, Raikkonen is now last. Making an impressive debut, Sebastien Bourdais is in sixth. there are bound to be more spills and thrills before this race is over.

Lap 30: The race restarts and Raikkonen zooms past Kovalainen but then suffers disaster as he misses his braking point and drives into the gravel. It ruins his strategy of not pitting in order to move into second.

Piquet is forced tio retire.

Lap 28: The pit lane has now been opened. All those drivers who haven't stopped will now go straight into the pits. That will prove advantageous for Raikkonen, who will be able to refuel while losing minimal time. However, the Finn chooses not pit.

Lap 26: Massa and Coulthard come together and it results in the end of the race fro the Scot. Coulthard looks to have turned into Massa, who was alongside. The safety car is deployed.

It could be a problem for Raikkonen, who must stay out on the track but could well be low on fuel. He was about to pit before the crash but must now wait.

Lap 23: An electrical problem is the reason for the premature ending of Jarno Trulli's race. There are now 15 off 22 drivers still competing.

Lap 20: There is a terminal problem for Trulli, and he gets out of his car in the pit lane, bringing his afternoon to a close.

Lap 19: Perhaps not so frustrating for Raikkonen as he succesfully passes Barrichello, down the inside at turn three.

Lap 18: Hamilton comes into the pits and rejoins the race in fourth.

Lap 17: Reikkonen tries to pass Barrichello on the outside at turn three but is held off. It could be a frustrating race for the Ferrari driver.

Lap 16: Kubica comes into the pits - the first of the leading cars to do so. He rejoins the race in sixth place.

Lap 14: Raikkonen's Ferrari is currently the fastest car in a straight line but the Finn cannot find a way past Barrichello's Honda.

Lap 10: Hamilton is extending his lead and is now more than nine seconds in front of Kubica.

Lap eight: Raikkonen is half a second behind Rubens Barrichello and looking for a way past.

Lap seven: Referring to the first-lap collision, Jenson Button says he "tapped" Vettel on the side and knew the damage would end his race. Button says he was alongside Vettel, who turned in when he should not have done.

wow, what a lively start to the season. Gutted for Button, i'm confident he'll have a good season though.
Matt, Notts, via text

Lap six: Hamilton has opened up a three-second gap at the front of the field. His McLaren team-mate Kovalainen is a further three seconds back, with Kubica sandwiched between the two.

Lap three: The race restarts and things have cleared up a little after the mess of the first lap. But we have already lost five drivers. Better news for Raikkonen, who has moved up to eighth.

Lap one: An incident-packed first lap Giancarlo Fischella and Nelson Piquet Jnr tangle. Fisichella is or of the race but Piquet survivies. Felipe Massa makes a mistake and spins - he needs a new front wing.

The safety car is out on the track. Jenson Button is out of the race after what looked to be a collision with Mark Webber. Anthony Davidson is also out as a result of the multi-collision.

0431: The warm-up lap is nearly completed. We are almost ready to go racing.

0428: It seems Hamilton could divide the people this season. I guess he is a bit like Marmite in that respect.

Lewis hamilton might be 'the golden boy' of the moment, but he has a lot to learn about cultivating facial hair.
Nigel Mansel, london, via text

F1 Love him or hate him Hamilton is a very talented young man, so chris from cardiff can keep his jealousy to himself.
Graeme, edinburgh, via text

Good luck lewis and all british drivers b amazin but b safe
elizabeth, via text

0425: Five minutes to go. Get your sunnies on, and open a tinnie..... we are about to burn rubber.

0420: Danni Minogue is track side and is looking hot - she says she is sweltering in the heat. Someone get that woman a fan.

0415: The first text of the morning, and it's not from a Hamilton supporter.

Let's hope we have a good start to the year. Would love a Kimi win, but as long as Hamilton doesn't win, I'll be happy.
Chris, Cardiff, via text

0410: It looks to be a gorgeous, sunny day in Melbourne and the Nick Heidfeld takes a large swig from a bottle. Whether it's water or a 'sports' drink, I cannot say. But one thing is for sure, hydration is key. Especially when the temperature in the cockpit is 50 C.

0405: The cars have left the pit lane to form up on the dummy grid.

0400: Good morning, petrolheads. You have half an hour to wipe away any sleep from your eyes, and fix your gaze firmly this way where I will guide you through the first grand prix of the season.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the seventh time in his career but he looks likely to be pushed all the way into the first turn by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubic, who lines up on the front row for the first time.

The pair know each other from karting and there could be a n explosive start in Melbourne, particularly given the form Kubica showed in qualifying when only a small oversteer in his final lap cost him pole.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen is back in 16th place in the grid after suffering a fuel pressure problem on Saturday. The Finn faces a massive battle to cut through the field and limit the damage of a disastrous qualifying session.



SEE ALSO
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Hamilton hails 'career-best' win
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Hamilton gets off to flying start
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McLaren dismiss spy-case engineer
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McLaren drivers equal - Hamilton
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McLaren boss still mulling future
13 Mar 08 |  Formula One
BMW Sauber 'not ready to win yet'
13 Mar 08 |  Formula One
Button expects Honda improvement
13 Mar 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton-Alonso 'could get nasty'
12 Mar 08 |  Formula One


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