Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel early casualties in Melbourne

Melbourne: Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and world champion Sebastian Vettel were both early casualties as the Formula One season got off to a furious start at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton was slow off the grid and retired after just four laps in his misfiring Mercedes, while Vettel`s Red Bull was also hit by mechanical problems and he gave up on the race two laps later.

After 14 laps, Mercedes` Nico Rosberg held the lead ahead of Red Bull`s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen, although the safety car was out after Valtteri Bottas left a rear tyre on the track.

Kamui Kobayashi`s first race back in F1 with Caterham did not last long as he ploughed into the back of Felipe Massa`s Williams at the start, taking both cars out of the race.