Rosberg dominates but Ricciardo DQ'd over fuel

17 March 2014 09:27

Nico Rosberg dominated the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday but Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo became the first casualty of new limits on fuel when he was sensationally disqualified from second place.

Rosberg, demonstrating Mercedes' superior adaptation to the sport's new hybrid technology, led from start to finish and took the chequered flag 24.5 seconds ahead of Australia's Ricciardo in his Red Bull debut.

McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, 21, came in narrowly behind Ricciardo in a brilliant performance in his first ever F1 race, becoming the first Danish driver ever to reach the podium.

Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton both managed only a handful of laps before retiring due to power issues as F1 absorbs a raft of technical changes.

But Ricciardo suffered the cruellest twist when he became the first Australian to reach the podium in his home GP, but was then disqualified for exceeding the maximum fuel flow, or rate of fuel consumption.

After a marathon stewards' inquiry which ended about five hours after the race, Ricciardo's first ever top-three finish was erased, promoting Magnussen to second and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button to third.

There was no immediate reaction from Ricciardo, who had already left the track by the time the decision was announced. But Red Bull said they would appeal.

Formula One has switched to quieter, turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engines this year and introduced hybrid components as well as limits on both fuel load and fuel flow, which is capped at 100 kilos per hour.

"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 the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations."

The hotly contended inquiry added a dash of intrigue to what had already been an eventful opening weekend characterised by the teams wrestling with the new technical requirements.

Given the plight of Vettel and Hamilton, McLaren's Jenson Button and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari will be delighted with their final positions of third and fourth respectively.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas survived losing a rear tyre, and having to run briefly with only three, to be classified fifth, ahead of Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and last year's winner Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari.

At the start, Rosberg swept to the front from third on the grid and he easily held Ricciardo at bay to give Mercedes the first win of the season in convincing fashion.

"I took off from the start like a Silver Arrow and after that the car was really quick today," said Rosberg, whose father, Keke, won the 1982 world championship and who has now claimed his fourth GP victory.

But while Mercedes celebrated Rosberg's win, they lost pre-race favourite Hamilton on lap four due to a lack of power. Vettel went out shortly afterwards in his first retirement since last year's British Grand Prix.

Danish debutant Magnussen also got on the podium in his first race for McLaren, who ended up with both drivers in the top three after failing to reach those positions even once all last season.

"I just can't believe it. It's not a win but it definitely feels like it and the team has been coming off a difficult season and they've made this rookie feel really comfortable," Magnussen said.

Fourteen cars of the 22 finished the race, which had its hair-raising moments on the opening lap.

Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham ploughed into the back of Felipe Massa's Williams at the first turn, although brake failure was later blamed for the crash clearing the Japanese driver of wrongdoing.

Vettel was slowly away and struck trouble at the rear of the field, while Hamilton was also struggling with a misfiring cylinder. They retired within a lap of each other with the race only a few minutes old.

Later, Finland's Bottas scraped a wall and lost his right rear wheel on the 10th lap, bringing out the safety car.

He limped back to the pits and rejoined to finish sixth -- a result which was upgraded, along with the rest of the field's, after Ricciardo's disqualification.

Source: AFP