McLaren enjoy dream weekend thanks to Lewis

PUBLISHED: 11:18 16 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:26 26 October 2009

Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton after yesterday's qualifying Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton after yesterday's qualifying Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

VODAFONE McLaren Mercedes bosses were overjoyed at claiming victory today (Sunday) after a chaotic Australian Grand Prix. Tewin hero Lewis Hamilton won an action-packed opening race of the F1 season from pole and only the intervention of the safety car pr

Lewis Hamilton on track in Melbourne

VODAFONE McLaren Mercedes bosses were overjoyed at claiming victory today (Sunday) after a chaotic Australian Grand Prix.

Tewin hero Lewis Hamilton won an action-packed opening race of the F1 season from pole and only the intervention of the safety car prevented Heikki Kovalainen from completing a McLaren one-two on the podium.

The Finnish driver had to settle for fifth in the end as 23-year-old Hamilton chalked up the fifth F1 victory of his short but already astonishing career.

Hamilton, who went to school in Stevenage, has now won in Canada, the US, Hungary, Japan and Australia.

The McLaren pit crew celebrate over the weekend

Team principal and co-owner Ron Dennis was delighted McLaren got the year off to a blistering start in the heat of Melbourne.

After a troubled 2007 campaign dogged by in-fighting and the infamous Ferrari Spygate affair, McLaren hit back on the track in style around Albert Park.

Commenting on events in Melbourne over the past few days, Dennis said: "An almost perfect race weekend for us.

"Lewis drove a faultless race with a strong strategy where his stops were timed in anticipation of possible safety car periods."

Norbert Haug, vice president of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was equally upbeat about the team's performance.

He said: "A dream start to the season and all our hard work could not have been better rewarded."

New team driver Kovalainen, however, had mixed emotions in the McLaren paddock afterwards.

He said: "Obviously my competitiveness was better than the result shows.

"Unfortunately the last safety car phase prevented me from finishing second.

"Nevertheless, I enjoyed the whole weekend working with the team on such a professional high level."

He added: "I am pleased, but also a bit disappointed as we were looking strong for a one-two finish today."

Despite leading both the drivers' standings and the Constructors' Championship after one race, Dennis isn't taking anything for granted.

He said: "As a team we have enjoyed a competitive weekend but there is a long way to go and we never underestimate our competition."

Next Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang will show just how good the 2008 McLaren car is.

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