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Rosberg opens new F1 era with dominant win

  • Published at 05:23 pm March 16th, 2014
Rosberg opens new F1 era with dominant win

Nico Rosberg opened Formula One's new era with a dominant victory at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday as Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo risked disqualification from second place over fuel rules.

Rosberg, whose Mercedes team have come out strongest with 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.

There was also a brilliant third place in his Formula One debut for McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, 21, who became the first Danish driver ever to reach the podium.

But 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.

And Ricciardo faced an anxious wait as stewards deliberated whether to take action for violating the maximum fuel flow, or rate of fuel use, which is among the innovations this season.

Formula One has switched to quieter, turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engines this year with hybrid components and a limit on fuel, as well as the rate of fuel use.

"During the race, car number three (Ricciardo) has exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100kg/h," Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA) technical delegate Jo Bauer said in a statement.

"As this is not in compliance with... Formula One regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration."

Disqualification would be cruel for the 24-year-old who became the first Australian to reach the podium in his home F1 grand prix, and in his first race after replacing countryman Mark Webber at Red Bull.

"If I look back to where we were three weeks ago this has definitely exceeded my expectations," a beaming Ricciardo, who was greeted by a roaring home crowd, said earlier.

McLaren's Jenson Button and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished fourth and fifth, ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

At the start, Rosberg swept to the front from third off the grid and he safely 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.

"The whole team did such a good job on it. It was a really good engine, not much problem with fuel consumption and the reliability was great."

It was Rosberg's fourth GP win and his first since Silverstone last year.

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

Denmark's Magnussen also got on the podium in his first GP for McLaren, who failed to finish in the top three 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.

Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi came off together at the first bend and were out of the race, while Vettel was slowly away and struck trouble at the rear of the field.

The Mercedes team told Hamilton he needed to retire on the second lap, but quickly amended the message to "stay out" on the track.

But Hamilton only lasted another lap before he came into the pits and his under-powered car was taken into the team garage with his race over.

Vettel followed Hamilton out of the race, retiring on his fifth lap with mechanical problems.

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 for new tyres and rejoined the race to go on and finish a creditable sixth.


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