Newcomer proves his worth with stunning first race
Having clinched fourth on the grid on his qualifying debut on Saturday, McLarens Lewis Hamilton went one better on Sunday as he scored a podium finish in his very first Grand Prix, having even led the Melbourne race at points during the first round of pit stops.
Hamilton took third place after 58 laps of Albert Park, following home winner Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso. However, it wasnt just Hamiltons final placing that impressed, but also the fashion in which he got there.
The 22-year-old kept his cool as the lights went out, re-passing the fast-starting BMW of Robert Kubica and then following the second BMW of Nick Heidfeld past Alonso, who dropped from second to fourth at the first corner.
From there Hamilton had the pace to match - and stay ahead of - the world champion until the second and final round of pit stops. Only then did Alonsos experience show, some fast laps combined with a slightly later stop allowing him to re-emerge safely clear of the Englishman.
Hamilton eventually took the flag ten seconds behind his team mate, but a glance at the fastest lap chart shows just how little there was to choose between the two mens performances - Alonsos best of 1m 26.314s was less than a tenth of a second quicker than Hamiltons.
A delighted Hamilton seemed to take it all in his stride as he enjoyed the champagne celebrations. What will delight his fans, however, is that McLaren's new signing looks more than capable of pushing Alonso all the way in the fight for 2007 supremacy at the Woking team.