The first race of the 2014 Formula One (F1) in Australia which marks a new era of turbocharged engines in F1, saw a dominating performance from Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes team as Rosberg crossed the chequered flag 20 seconds in front of second place, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing; while F1 rookie and McLaren driver, Kevin Magnussen, claimed his first podium in his first race, which marks McLaren’s return to the podium in 16 months.
The race at Albert Park, Melbourne saw the debut of new turbocharged F1 engines in which any team powered by Mercedes’s powerplants appeared as favorites to win the race. That allowed Lewis Hamilton to take the podium position over Daniel Ricciardo, with Rosberg placed at third during Saturday’s rain hit qualifying. While local favorite and Red Bull racing debutant, Ricciardo, enraptured the home fans by qualifying in second place, misfortune struck team mate and quadruple world champion, Sebastian Vettel as “Suzie” did not perform as what he wanted hence qualifying out of the top ten.
As the five red lights turned green, it was chaos on the first lap as Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi collided with Felipe Massa, who is looking for a fresh start in F1 with the new Williams team. Rosberg meanwhile, made the best of starts, leaping past Ricciardo and Hamilton in the dash to the first corner. Two high-level retirements took place in less than five laps, with Mercedes’s Hamilton becoming the first victim to succumb to engine-related issues due to a misfiring cylinder. Vettel’s weekend was no better when his RB10 gave up due to mechanical issues.
The fears regarding the reduced allocation of fuel for this year’s F1 car was put aside as Rosberg comfortably led the race and felt unchallenged while Magnussen gave Ricciardo a run for his money in the battle for second place. Jenson Button, meanwhile consolidated a fourth place finish, giving solid points for the McLaren team to lead the constructor’s standings.
Martini’s sponsorship and new Mercedes engines have bought the sole remaining Williams car, Valteri Bottas, to challenge the top ten. He however, was almost knocked out of the race after puncturing his tire as the result of clipping his car too close to the wall. However, he recovered and finished in an impressive sixth. Ferrari meanwhile consolidated with Alonso finishing in fifth, and Kimi Raikkonen drove home in eighth. Toro Rosso had a weekend to remember as both cars finished in the points in ninth and tenth, with rookie, Daniil Kvyat, completed his maiden race in the final points-scoring position. Both Lotus F1 and Caterham teams had a weekend to forget as none of their cars finished the race.
“It’s been an amazing day. I’m over the moon,” said Rosberg, who took the 100th Mercedes-powered Formula 1 victory. “Everyone has worked so hard. I’m really thankful to Mercedes for giving me such an amazing car. [But] there is a lot of work to do [as the season develops]. We can still improve a lot, and we must because the competitors will not be asleep.”
Hours later, the delightful mood in Red Bull turned to dismay when the FIA discovered the Red Bull car of Daniel Ricciardo was caught with technical infringement where his car exceeded the maximum allowed fuel flow rate per hour, hence he was disqualified from the race. The team will make an appeal to the FIA on this.
Traditionally the winner of the first race of the season will become the world champion of that year. Yet again it was proven wrong in 2013 and 2012 when Vettel won the driver titles despite not winning the Australian GP of those years. The next race is in a fortnights time in Malaysia at end of March.
FULL RESULTS (UPDATED)
1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 57 laps 1hr 32m 58.710s
2. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes +00m 26.7s
3. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 30.0s
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 35.2s
5. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes +00m 47.6s
6. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 50.7s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 57.6s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault +01m 00.4s
9. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault +01m 03.5s
10. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes +01m 25.9s
11. Adrian Sutil Germany Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
12. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Max Chilton Briton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps
14. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari +8 laps
Rtd Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 43 laps completed
Rtd Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Lotus-Renault 29 laps completed
Rtd Marcus Ericsson Sweden Caterham-Renault 27 laps completed
Rtd Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 4 laps completed
Rtd Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 3 laps completed
Rtd Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes 0 laps completed
Rtd Kamui Kobayashi Japan Caterham-Renault 0 laps completed
DSQ Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault
Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 32.478s lap 19
[Image Source: Mercedes AMG F1 team, Williams F1, Red Bull Racing]