Starting grid for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix

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The new Formula 1 season kicks off in Melbourne today in earnest as the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg prepare to renew their fight for the drivers’ title.

2014 provided a vintage championship battle between the Silver Arrows, with Hamilton emerging the victor in Abu Dhabi thanks to his double points victory and Rosberg’s subsequent non-score.

Now though, the scoreboard has been reset. Today, both drivers start from zero, and you can be sure that they will be hungrier than ever to make the most of this.

For Hamilton, history is within his grasp, as he could become the first British driver in F1 history to win back-to-back titles. A third championship would also draw him level with his hero, Ayrton Senna, in the record books.

As for Rosberg? 2015 is a chance for him to apply the lessons that he learned last year in his defeat and have another shot at the title.

To start with in Australia though, Hamilton appears to have lost none of his advantage from last year. The Briton stormed to pole position ahead of Rosberg as Mercedes once again proved to be the cream of the field. Once again, it seems that today’s race will be a question of “who” rather than “if” for the Gemran marque.

Just behind the Silver Arrows, Williams and Ferrari look set to scrap over third place in the battle to be the ‘best of the rest’. Felipe Massa lines up third for Williams ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, but the Brazilian will be fighting alone after teammate Valtteri Bottas was ruled out in the hour leading up to the race by the FIA stewards following a back injury.

Just 17 cars had been due to start the opening grand prix of the season following Manor’s failure to qualify. However, this has now fallen to 15 after Kevin Magnussen suffered an engine failure on his installation lap, whilst Daniil Kvyat failed to make the start after also stopping on track.

You can watch the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra now (CLICK HERE for live stream) with the race starting at 1a ET.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus
9. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
10. Felipe Nasr Sauber
11. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
DNS. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
14. Sergio Perez Force India
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
16. Jenson Button McLaren
DNS. Kevin Magnussen McLaren

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).