Hamilton rocks Melbourne

PUBLISHED: 09:26 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 26 October 2009

Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton on the beach Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton on the beach Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

David Croft reports from Melbourne IT was around 7pm when I stepped out of the Radio 5-live commentary box, my work almost complete for the day. In the far corner of Albert Park to my left, Kiss were just exploding onto the stage for a free concert for

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, GP of Australia , 
22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),
 *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap +++

David Croft reports from Melbourne

IT was around 7pm when I stepped out of the Radio 5-live commentary box, my work almost complete for the day.

In the far corner of Albert Park to my left, Kiss were just exploding onto the stage for a free concert for the F1 fans who'd come along to the opening race of the season.

McLaren mates Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton

As the aging rockers took to the stage a huge flock of seagulls, startled by the noise, took to the skies, buzzing myself and my producer Jason as we did our best to get out of the way.

Conclusive evidence if ever there was any that birds don't dig heavy metal!

A couple of hours later over a welcome beer, the 5-live team came to the conclusion that this was a great start to the new season and that as far as we were concerned, it was Lewis Hamilton that had rocked Melbourne the most.

It was a fabulous start to the season for him, backing up what Sir Jackie Stewart had told our listeners after qualifying, that he thought Lewis would be a bigger handful this year for the rest of the competitors given that he came into the races now with a year's worth of knowledge and experience.

Lewis Hamilton spraying champagne after his victory

True, there's the pressure of expectation to contend with now, but there seemed little evidence of that for the McLaren driver.

His week started with a Vodafone event on the beach where he and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen took on a quartet of Aussie sportstars.

Kovalainen would have won the kayak race had he not tried to steer a course out towards his native Finland.

Lewis took advantage of the misdirection to cross the line first.

It was hardly a serious race but from the body language of the two drivers there, and then over the course of the next few days, it was clear that a repeat of the troubles with Fernando Alonso from last year were about as likely to crop up again as Alonso's new team-mate was of cropping up on the podium on a regular basis.

Nelson Piquet was one of a few drivers who struggled to come to terms with the new regulations and the removal of the driver aids, and sadly looked a little out of his depth.

I hope his situation improves quickly; F1 can be an unforgiving business.

Meanwhile, Lewis and Heikki seemed to be revelling in the limelight and in the misfortune of Ferrari for whom Friday morning proved the highlight of their week.

It was the only time they were both fastest and bulletproof.

For them to have both cars fail to finish the race was as embarrassing as it was concerning and they have plenty to mull over before the next race this weekend.

Lewis described the victory as his best yet in F1. Certainly in the way he kept out of trouble and kept his cool when the safety car appeared it was.

It was also notable for the consistency of his pace as lap after lap he stretched his lead.

He got a break or two and Kovalainen was a little unlucky with the timing of the second safety car, otherwise he may have pressed on for a maiden F1 win.

But for Lewis not to score a perfect 10 in the season opener would have been harsh and to look at his celebrations on the podium told us all how much the win meant to him, a brilliant way to bounce back after the heartbreak of last season.

He enjoyed too having his old karting team-mate Nico Rosberg on the podium with him.

Rosberg had finished third to keep a promise he and Lewis made to each other eight years ago that one day they'd be spraying the champagne after a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Rosberg has finally made it. His old buddy, 18 races into his F1 career is, making a habit of it.

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