Nico Rosberg has won the Australian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen. While there were a number of retirements – including pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel – it wasn’t quite the disaster that many expected with 15 making it to the chequered flag.
There was drama before the race when Max Chilton stalled on the grid before the formation lap. He was pushed into the pit-lane, where Romain Grosjean was already waiting having opted to start the race from there. When cars returned to the grid they were soon sent off on another parade lap after Chilton’s team-mate Jules Bianchi also stalled. When racing did eventually get started it was a bogged down start for Hamilton who was quickly passed by his team-mate. Magnussen had a hairy moment with a wild moment of oversteer and he cut in front of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Kamui Kobayashi made an impression on his return, but for all the wrong reasons as he heavily locked up and hit Felipe Massa, ending both of their races. Post-race Kobayashi was cleared of responsibility for the accident after it was revealed he had suffered failure in his rear brakes. Kimi Raikkonen was also clipped on the rear but was able to continue. Sergio Perez had to pit at the end of the first lap due to a puncture. Grosjean was handed a drive-through penalty for leaving his garage before the 15 minute signal.
McLaren rookie Magnussen wasted no time in getting past Hamilton at the start, making the running order Rosberg, Ricciardo, and Magnussen at the end of lap one. Hamilton’s race came to a premature end when he was asked to retire the car in order to maintain the engine. The initial call was then revoked but Hamilton did eventually retire the car on lap four due to a cylinder misfire. Vettel was not far behind him after suffering his own problems. Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, and Pastor Maldonado also eventually retired from the race.
There were battles up and down the field throughout the race. Fernando Alonso spent a lot of time studying the rear of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India. Both Ferrari cars were carrying electrical problems from the start of the race and Kimi Raikkonen struggled at times, running off track. Valtteri Bottas looked impressive but made a mistake and hit the wall, causing a rear tyre puncture. He eventually fought back and finished solidly in the points, getting more points for Williams in one race than they did in all of 2013. Debris was left on the track following the incident, bringing out the one and only safety car. The Toro Rossos impressed with both drivers finishing in the points. Daniil Kvyat broke Vettel’s record of being the youngest driver to score points, aged just 19. Up at the front Rosberg dominated, not even losing his lead during the pit-stop phases. Magnussen started to close in on Ricciardo in the closing stages but was unable to get close enough to pass him. Button benefited greatly from the safety car as it allowed him to pit and leap frog some of the drivers in front of him. He gained on Magnussen towards the end as well but ultimately finished in fourth.
The top ten were Rosberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Button, Alonso, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Vergne, and Kvyat. The results mean that McLaren lead the constructors championship and have ended their long podium drought, after a tough 2013 season. Red Bull also exceed expectations by finishing on the podium with Ricciardo. The next race is in two weeks in Malaysia.
UPDATE: Following the race, Daniel Ricciardo was investigated and subsequently disqualified from the results due to fuel flow irregularities. A full explanation of the stewards’ decision can be found at F1 Fanatic: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/03/16/stewards-detail-reasons-ricciardos-disqualification/