Gearbox failure leaves F1 champ Lewis in last place for Australian GP

GEARBOX failure means Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow s Australian Grand Prix from the back of the grid. With his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car sluggish, the reigning F1 world champion from Herts was only 15th quickest in the first phase of qualifying

GEARBOX failure means Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

With his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car sluggish, the reigning F1 world champion from Herts was only 15th quickest in the first phase of qualifying at Albert Park earlier today (Saturday).

Opting for two single-lap runs on option tyres, Lewis set a decent 1 minute 26.454 seconds to just survive the Q1 session.

However, the final run to improve his time resulted in his MP4-24 suffering a sudden loss of drive, leaving 24-year-old Lewis to coast back to the pits.


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"Something broke on the rear of my car on my second flying lap in Q1," said Lewis, whose family home is in Tewin, near Welwyn Garden City.

"I just lost all drive in the gearbox and couldn't continue."

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A five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox means Hamilton starts last tomorrow.

"We'll have fun in the race," he added.

While there was heartache for Hamilton, who bagged pole in Australia last season, there was joy for Jenson Button in qualifying.

The British driver will start from pole position tomorrow alongside Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

"My congratulations to Jenson and everyone at Brawn GP - they have done a fantastic job all weekend and have a lot to look forward to tomorrow," said Hamilton.

Lewis, meanwhile, will have to perform miracles to get into the points.

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