Rosberg wins Australian GP, Vettel retires early
Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Nico Rosberg from Mercedes put on a dominating performance to win Sunday's Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix, while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Rosberg's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, retired early after suffering engine failure.
Starting third, Rosberg quickly passed Daniel Ricciardo, who made his debut with Red Bull, and then Hamilton, the pole sitter, to take the lead on the opening lap at Albert Park Circuit. Rosberg was untouchable from there, as he crossed the finish line 24.5 seconds ahead of Ricciardo.
Several hours after the Australian GP concluded, Ricciardo lost his second- place finish when race stewards determined his car had run with too high a fuel flow rate during the event. According to stewards, Ricciardo's car had "exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100 kg per hour," which is a breach of technical regulations.
Red Bull said it will appeal the stewards' decision.
"Following the decision of the FIA that Infiniti Red Bull Racing is in breach of Article 3.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Article 5.1.4 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations with Car 3, the team has notified the FIA of its intention to appeal with immediate effect," Red Bull said in a statement. "Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane. The team and Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations."
Ricciardo would have been the first Australian to finish on the podium in his home race.
Rosberg earned his fourth career F1 victory. Last year, he won the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix.
"It's really been an amazing day," Rosberg said. "I'm just over the moon. It's incredible. Everybody has worked so hard over the winter. I had such an amazing [car] to drive. This thing was unbelievably quick today, and the reliability was good. It's a perfect start to the season, and I'm really thankful to Mercedes. They've done an amazing job over the winter."
Vettel, the four-time reigning F1 world champion, complained of problems with his power unit (engine) on the first lap and then headed to the pits on lap 5 to retire. He was attempting to win his record 10th straight grand prix. Vettel ended the 2013 season by winning the last nine races.
"I didn't have any power right from the start," Vettel said. "We tried to recover on track as much as we could, but it didn't work. We lost a couple of cylinders, and then you lose power and the whole power unit stops working."
Hamilton dealt with a power issue at the start as well, as he retired one lap prior to Vettel.
"Literally from lights out, I had a lack of power, so I was on the radio, saying that people are passing me and catching me, and what's going on?" Hamilton said. "They didn't tell me at the time. but I think one of the cylinders was misfiring."
There was a lot of uncertainty for teams heading into the Australian GP, with this season featuring one of the biggest set of rule changes in F1 history, especially the technical regulations. This race marked the competition debut of the 1.6-liter, V6 turbocharged power unit, which relies heavily on hybrid technology. Aerodynamic changes and alterations to the design of the cars were also made for this year.
Most teams, particularly Red Bull, have endured numerous technical issues with the 2014 cars. Red Bull showed signs of progress with the reliability of its cars during the practice sessions for the Australian GP compared to recent pre-season tests in Spain and Bahrain. Ricciardo qualified second on Saturday.
"We learned that the car was quick, but we just need to get everything together," Vettel said.
McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen, who made his F1 debut, crossed the line in third but was elevated to second place due to Ricciardo's disqualification. Magnussen became the first rookie to score a podium finish since Hamilton in 2007. His teammate, Jenson Button, placed third. Last year, McLaren, with drivers Button and Sergio Perez, failed to record a podium finish during the season.
"It's hard to believe, and it just seems so surreal," the 21-year-old Magnussen said. "The car was so much better than it's been at any point. I had exactly what I needed for the whole race. The preparation we've done this winter has been fantastic. I've never done a Formula One race, and testing is so limited these days. Big congratulations to the team for doing such a good job."
Fernando Alonso from Ferrari was fourth, while Williams' Valtteri Bottas took fifth after he bounced back from losing his right-front tire when he made contact with the wall early in the race.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth, and Kimi Raikkonen, who is back with Ferrari this season, placed seventh. Raikkonen won the Australian GP one year ago when he drove for Lotus.
Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, who also made his first F1 start, were eighth and ninth, respectively. At age 19, Kvyat became the youngest points-scorer in the sport's history. Perez, now with Force India, completed the top-10.
Fifteen of the 22 starters were running at the finish. Kamui Kobayashi from Caterham and Felipe Massa, who made his debut with Williams, collided at the first corner and went into the gravel on the opening lap, ending their races.
Kobayashi was cleared of any blame for the incident after stewards reviewed technical data provided by Caterham. Stewards determined the crash was "caused by a serious technical failure completely outside the control of the driver." Kobayashi explained on Twitter that he had no rear brakes, adding, "Sorry to Felipe but was not my mistake."
03/16 10:07:00 ET