Lewis Hamilton says Australian GP second place a 'bonus'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Melbourne
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Hamilton dropped from pole to sixth but managed to fight back to claim second place on the podium

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said his second place in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was a "bonus" after a difficult race.

The world champion started from pole position after dominating qualifying but fell back through the field after a bad start. Team-mate Nico Rosberg won.

"I've had much worse in the first race," Hamilton said. "I take this as a real bonus to come back from seventh.

"There's a long, long way to go. I bagged good points today. I'm happy."

Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary as Hamilton gets swamped at the start of the Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton was third running into the first corner after Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel made better starts than him and then immediately dropped to sixth after being pushed wide by his team-mate.

Hamilton's team then switched his strategy to do just one pit stop rather than the conventional two, which meant he was seventh when the race was stopped for a massive accident from which McLaren's Fernando Alonso emerged unhurt.

Hamilton gained places as those ahead of him stopped and held off a challenge from Vettel in the closing laps.

Tom Clarkson

"Generally for me it was a great race," he said. "It was really exciting.

"Having to fight back from behind, it's very, very hard to follow [other cars] as we all know from the history here. I'm just really proud of what the team have done.

"Ferrari are obviously there and in the battle so hopefully we have some exciting races coming up ahead of us.

"I did the best I could after a difficult start and I'm just grateful I got back. It was damage limitation really because Nico could have had a lot more points than me."

Nico Rosberg celebrates as Lewis Hamilton walks away
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Rosberg's win "will not be a big blow" for Hamilton

His remarks are a reference to the start of the 2014 season, when Rosberg won in Australia and Hamilton had to retire with an engine problem.

That meant he started the season with a 25-point deficit which it took him some time to claw back and put him on the back foot for much of the season.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton lost about two metres to Rosberg in the first 100m of the race. He said the team did not yet know whether the slow start was down to a systems error or a driver error.

Rosberg said: "It was a great race and I'm really pleased. To win the first race of the season was awesome. It was a good kick-start to the season."

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton
Although Hamilton impressed over the weekend he couldn't secure an opening-season victory

Australian GP results

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