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Nico Rosberg hailed a “perfect start” to the 2016 Formula 1 season as he beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to victory at the Australian Grand Prix.
Polesitter Hamilton had a poor getaway off the line, with Sebastian Vettel powering from third through to first place, while Kimi Raikkonen came from fourth to second, as Rosberg dropped behind both Ferrari drivers.
However, Vettel found himself under severe pressure from Rosberg for the lead after the opening pit-stop phase.
A huge crash between McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez - both walked away unharmed – brought about a 20-minute stoppage.
Following the delay, a superior tyre strategy allowed Rosberg to usurp Vettel for the dominant race position, and the four-time champion also lost out tactically to Hamilton.
"It's been a great weekend," winner Rosberg reflected following the race.
"The team have done an incredible job with this car - it was just unreal today - and to beat the Ferraris was great, so we loved it. I'm super excited.
"It's early days but, of course, it's a perfect start.
"We've to keep an eye on the red guys (Ferrari), as they're very close to us, as we saw today, so we have to give it everything to stay ahead of them."
Hamilton recovered well from a dreadful start, which included minor contact with Rosberg.
A revised strategy, along with an important pass on Daniel Ricciardo, helped the Englishman to finish second.
"I love the fact that we had to come from behind," said the reigning champion, who was forced to defend from Vettel late on.
"It was tricky out there. It was just trying to get through the traffic with these tyres on, especially with the guys in front who had the faster tyres on – it's impossible to follow here.
"But I'm really happy to get the result - it's great for the team."
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came from eighth on the grid to finish fourth, with Williams driver Felipe Massa taking fifth.
Romain Grosjean gave the debuting Haas team a superb start to the campaign by securing sixth place, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Massa’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, recovered from a poor qualifying outing to finish eighth, while both Toro Rosso drivers bagged points, as Carlos Sainz triumphed in a race-long battle against Max Verstappen.
Australian Grand Prix results
Pos. Driver, Team, Time/Gap
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, +1hr48:15.565
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +8.060
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +9.643
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +24.330
5. Felipe Massa, Williams, +58.979
6. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +1:12.081
7. Nico Hülkenberg, Force India, +1:14.199
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +1:15.153
9. Carlos Sainz Toro, Rosso, +1:15.680
10. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, +1:16.833
11. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +1:23.399
12. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +1:25.606
13. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1:31.699
14. Jenson Button, McLaren, 56, +1 lap
15. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +1 lap
16. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +1 lap
Driver, Team, Laps
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 38
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 21
Rio Haryanto, Manor, 17
Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 16
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 16
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 0