Rosberg wins dramatic season-opener in Melbourne

Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:48am EDT
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg won a dramatic Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after a bungled tire strategy dashed Sebastian Vettel's chances of a season-opening triumph and Fernando Alonso survived a spectacular crash that left his McLaren wrecked.

Rosberg's 15th Formula One victory was also his fourth in succession after the German Mercedes driver won the final three races of last season.

Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton battled back to secure a Mercedes one-two after the defending world champion recovered from a chaotic start that pushed him back to sixth at the first turn to finish eight seconds behind his team mate.

Four-times world champion Vettel came third for Ferrari after leading for much of the race, but the German's victory hopes faded with an aggressive tire strategy that fell flat after the race was halted due to Alonso's crash.

"The strategy was crucial today, so I'm really thankful the team did a good job on that," ecstatic German Rosberg told reporters.

"The car's just been unreal today... We've got to keep an eye on the red guys (Ferrari), they are very close as you saw today."

Ferrari enjoyed a brilliant start, with Vettel able to carve through the front-row occupying Mercedes duo on the run to the first turn.

His Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen also got off to a flyer and he darted up the side to claim second place as Rosberg's rear left tire made contact with Hamilton's front wing.   Continued...

 
Formula One -  Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 20/03/16 -  Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg on the podium after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. REUTERS/Jason Reed