Vettel, Hamilton early casualties at Australian GP

Vettel, Hamilton early casualties at Australian GP

Published Mar. 16, 2014 3:24 a.m. ET

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) World champion Sebastian Vettel could not have made a worse start to his Formula One title defense after the Red Bull driver was forced to retire with engine problems just five laps into the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Pole-sitter and pre-race favorite Lewis Hamilton was another early casualty of the new car set ups, retiring on the fourth lap with a cylinder misfire. Ferarri's Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi of Caterham collided on the first turn to end their race.

Vettel remained upbeat about his chances of a podium finish after finishing 13th in qualifying Saturday, but the problems that plagued the four-time world champion in testing Red Bull's new V6 turbo hybrid car continued at Albert Park.