Updated: 03/16/2014 14:50 | By Agence France-Presse

Hamilton, Vettel early casualties at Australian Formula One GP

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, Vettel early casualties at Australian Formula One GP

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany leads the pack at the start of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, in Melbourne, on March 16, 2014 - by William West

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.

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