Al Hameli winds opening round of Portuguese GP

Abu Dhabi driver leads from start to finish

Team Abu Dhabi driver Hamad Al Hameli won the opening round of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship on the River Arade in Portugal on Saturday. He led from start to finish and now heads the driver’s championship with 20 points.

Al Hameli had to face five re-starts before finishing 1.91 seconds ahead of Jay Price, last years winner. Price, who moved up from fourth in the closing stages, collected 15 points.

Third slot, 6.58 seconds astern, was filled by Jonas Andersson from Sweden who goes home with 12 championship points.

Andersson’s team-mate, Thani Al Qamzi, came up from 17th to finish a worthy fourth while Italian Fabio Comparato set yet another fine performance in his 800 Doctor BABA outfit by finishing fifth.

Sixth place went to rookie driver Ugis Gross from Latvia with the Zepter Team while his team-mate Guido Cappellini struggled in his new boat before finally ending his day with his engine expiring on the 38th and final lap.

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English driver Andy Elliott came out of a two year retirement only to have his boat catch on fire on the 5th lap. The 2007 World Champion Sami Selio also had bad luck when his engine failed during the opening moments.

The second of two races completing the Portuguese Grand Prix is scheduled to be held on Sunday.