Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel gave notice that he would not relinquish his Formula One world title easily with a dominant pole-to-flag victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
German Vettel blasted off the grid in bright Melbourne sunshine and never looked troubled over the 58 laps as he notched up his 11th career victory and third in a row going back to last season by a formidable 22.2 seconds from Hamilton.
Briton Hamilton said it was a "great achievement" that his team had given him a car good enough for second place after McLaren's troubles in pre-season testing but his joy was eclipsed by that of Vitaly Petrov, who grabbed third place for Renault.
The 26-year-old -- "at zero" last year according to Renault team boss Eric Boullier -- swept past McLaren's Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari at the start on the way to his and Russia's first podium finish in Formula One.
Twice former world champion Alonso was a battling fourth for Ferrari, while Vettel's team mate Mark Webber had another disappointing home race for Red Bull in fifth ahead of the equally disgruntled Button in the second McLaren.