Early retirement for Hamilton

Blackpool Citizen: Lewis Hamilton had to retire after three laps Lewis Hamilton had to retire after three laps

Lewis Hamilton's start to the new Formula One season lasted just three laps before the championship favourite was forced to retire.

From the 32nd pole position of his career ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton was passed on the run down to the first corner at Melbourne's Albert Park by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo on his debut for Red Bull.

On the opening lap McLaren's Kevin Magnussen dropped Hamilton to fourth, and it was clear the 29-year-old was struggling with his car.

On lap two Hamilton was then informed by race engineer Pete Bonnington to stop the car and save the engine, only for the Briton to pass the entry to the pitlane.

A further message of "stay out, stay out, keep rolling" from Bonnington followed, but it quickly became apparent Hamilton's problems were terminal as he pulled into the pits at the end of the third lap and stepped out of the car, with the team confirming a loss of power.

At that stage Hamilton was the third car to retire as Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi caused a first-corner collision, spinning into the gravel alongside Williams' Felipe Massa, sending both cars out.

After six laps reigning four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel became another high-profile retirement, the German's Red Bull encountering a KERS issue, with his also race ending in the garage.

Hamilton confirmed his retirement after losing a cylinder, and said: "I think I was down to five cylinders. It's a bit unfortunate, but that's racing."

Trying to draw on the positives, Hamilton added: "We've got pace and we will recover from this. It's only a hiccup and there's a long way to go. At the moment I'm not concerned about anything."

As for Vettel and his early exit, he said: "Already after the second formation lap there was a loss of power and we didn't know why.

"Then at the start of the race we had no power, cars kept on passing me, and although I was down we tried to recover.

"At some stage I thought there was an improvement, but then we realised we had lost power from the engine."

Although it was a miserable start to the defence of his championship, Vettel added: "We are working hard, and although we have started on the back foot we have learned an awful lot.

"When the package comes together we will be competitive."

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