Nico Rosberg wins Australian Grand Prix
MELBOURNE,AUSTRALIA (BDCi) — Formula One’s opening race ended in a bit of controversy on Sunday as initial second-place winner Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull was disqualified for a breach of fuel regulations, five hours after Nico Rosberg took the checkered flag.
Ricciardo’s violations tarnished what had been a day of celebration for local fans who were excited that the Red Bull driver had apparently become the first Australian to finish on the podium in his home race.
However just before midnight, stewards ruled that Ricciardo’s car had “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow” and that the team refused an instruction from the race’s technical delegate Charlie Whiting to change the fuel flow sensor before the race and a further request during the race to reduce the fuel flow.
Red Bull immediately announced that it would appeal the decision.
“Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane,” a Red Bull statement said. “The team and (engine supplier) Renault are confident that the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations.”
That was one of many surprises at the Australian Grand Prix.
While few were surprised at the finish of Rosberg given how well Mercedes had been in preseason warmups, few would have expected pole sitter Lewis Hamilton defending four-time champion Sebastian Vettel to be behind after half a dozen laps.
Both Hamilton and Vettel suffered engine failures, illustrating the difficulties all drivers are having getting the performance and reliability out of the sport’s new hybrid V6 engines.
Ricciardo’s disqualification meant Kevin Magnussen was promoted to second place in his debut race, ahead of his McLaren teammate Jenson Button, giving the team a bright start to the season after a very disappointing 2013.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fourth, while Williams driver Valtteri Bottas recovered from losing a wheel early in the race to finish fifth. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, in his return to the team after six years away, finished sixth and seventh respectively. Toro Rosso pair Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat finished eighth and ninth while Force India’s Sergio Perez finished in the final points-paying position in 10th.
Despite fears that many drivers would not finish the race due to reliability issues during preseason racing and over the weekend, 15 of the 22 drivers finished. There was one major accident involving Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi and Brazilian Felipe Massa. Kobayashi slammed into the back of Massa in the first corner and ended the race for both drivers.
The next Formula One race will be Sunday March 30 at the Grand Prix of Malaysia.