NICO ROSBERG started second on the Formula One grid for the Australian Grand Prix, but got the jump on his pole-sitting Mercedes teammate, LEWIS HAMILTON, and never looked back. Rosberg went on to win the race IN Melbourne’s Albert Park, while Hamilton retired with engine problems after just four laps. Turns out he was down power from the get-go, faded and retired to save the car.
Rosberg turned the race’s fastest lap of 1:32.478 on Lap 19, for 125.787 mph/206.436 kph.
Hamilton got off to a bad start, with only a half-lap of practice Friday while teammate Rosberg finished sixth, with FERNANDO ALONSO/Ferrari the fastest. Mercedes then proceeded to dominate the weekend. Even with pitstops during the race, Rosberg didn’t relinquish the lead during the 57-lap race around the 3.295-mile/5.303km street circuit.
The weather held out, being cool and breezy but dry all day. So much for believing the weatherman forecasting 90 percent chance of Sunday rain. The Saturday forecast was only 80 percent chance, and it bucketed torrentially, with thunder and lightning. Go figure.
Sunday’s estimated attendance was 100,500, down a bit from last year’s figure of 103,000. Overall estimated attendance for this year was 314,900, compared to 323,300 last year.
“I always dreamed of having such a strong Silver Arrow and now it seems we are there. In the race, everything went perfectly for me. My start was great and I was able to push from there until the end, with our fuel consumption well under control.
The highly-partisan Aussie crowd cheered for their favorite, DANIEL RICCIARDO/Red Bull Racing, who finished second in his first race for dominant team.
Third was KEVIN MAGNUSSEN/Mclaren, who briefly ran second. Fourth and fifth were JENSON BUTTON/McLaren and FERNANDO ALONSO/Ferrari.
However, many will be quite surprised and disappointed when they read the Monday morning news that Ricciardo was disqualified and referred to the Stewards. FIA’s results show on the bottom “Note – Ricciardo originally finished second but was excluded after his car was found to have exceeded the maximum permitted fuel flow rate.”
The matter in questions is a “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 Ricciardo’s car. The team has notified FIA of “its intention to appeal with immediate affect.” The team went on further to say “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’s teammate, Vettel, was shown on TV, in team gear, sitting in the garage with crew members at a work station, appearing to be engaged in or engrossed by what he seeing or doing.
In the FIA F1 bulletin sent by Technical Delegate, JO BAUER, to the FIA Steward of the Meeting, among other things, Ricciardo’s car was checked in ten of 12 tests performed on specific cars. All results were in compliance, including the fuel samples taken and the fuel consumption, which was checked on all cars. All cars passed the wide variety of tests performed.
McLaren stated in its late-night announcement that “Nevertheless, as a result of Ricciardo’s exclusion, Kevin’s second-place finish makes him the most successful F1 rookie since Jacques Villeneuve managed the same feat in the 1996 Australian Grand Prix, also in Melbourne.”
Current World Champion, SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing gridded twelfth, but didn’t last more five laps. He’s not having a great start to the season. He pitted early to save the engine.
Rookie DANIL KVYAT/Toro Rosso, who hardly looks old enough to shave, much less drive a Grand Prix car, finished a very credible tenth after starting eighth. At nineteen, he’s the youngest-ever podium finisher.
The race was relatively processional, with little passing among the top five for much of the time. The action was behind the leaders.
JULES BIANCHI/Marussia didn’t have the best start. He stalled on the grid and was pushed back to Pit Lane. This aborted the start. He did run the race, and was the top driver in the not classified section, with 49 laps.
Two cars didn’t make it past Turn One. KAMUI KOBAYASHI/Caterham hit FELIPE MASSA/Williams, causing front suspension failure and both cars retired. Kobayashi accepted responsibility, was called to the Stewards, and was absolved.
Drama for VALITERI BOTTAS/Williams, who hit the wall and lost his right rear tire bringing out the Safety Car, allowing time for the track marshals to retrieve the parts. He kept the car on course, pitted for new tires, and then worked his way back up to finish sixth.
Massa won the pool, by predicting on Thursday that 14 drivers would finish the race. Eleven of those fourteen drivers finished on the lead lap. Only four of the unclassified drivers had mechanical problems, not as many as predicted.
While the initial FIA results list Rosberg leading the Drivers’ Championship with 25 points, followed by Ricciardo-18, Magnussen-15, Button-12, and Alonso with 10, McLaren’s press release just distributed indicates that its drivers, Magnussen and Button have 18 and 15 points, respectively – in second and third point, and no Ricciardo in the top ten.
McLaren leads the Constructor’s Championship with 27 points, as its two drivers finished well – either way you look at it. However, if the RBR DQ remains, then Mercedes and Ferrari move up, as does Williams, Force India and Toro Rosso, with no listing for RBR. As originally announced, McLaren led, followed by Mercedes with 25, Red Bull Racing third with 18, Ferrari with 14, and Williams with eight.
The FIA tewards have indicated they want ore tests, so there probably won’t be anything new for the morning headlines.
The next race is 30 March at Sepang in Malaysia.