Rosberg opens new F1 era with dominant win in Australia

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Rosberg opens new F1 era with dominant win in Australia

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 was disqualified from his sensational second-place finish for breaching a new limit on fuel use.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 17 Mar 2014, 10:51 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:51 PM

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.

After a marathon hearing, stewards announced that Ricciardo, who finished runner-up in his Red Bull behind Nico Rosberg, was excluded from the race result at the season-opener.

Stewards said that Ricciardo’s Red Bull car was not in compliance with F1 technical regulations and had exceeded the maximum fuel flow, or rate of fuel consumption, of 100kg/h.

Red Bull immediately said they would appeal the decision, which made Ricciardo the first casualty of new limits on maximum fuel load and fuel flow introduced this year. Ricciardo’s podium finish was the first of his career, and in his first race with Red Bull, and was also the first achieved by an Australian driver in his home grand prix. “Inconsistencies with the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) 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 fuel flow is measured by a sensor sanctioned by FIA and owned and operated by teams. Stewards said Red Bull used a different sensor on Saturday and they were instructed to change it that night. The Red Bull team chose to run the car using their fuel flow model without direction from FIA, which was in violation of the procedure within the technical regulations, stewards said.

The stewards said Ricciardo’s car was out of compliance with the technical regulations and therefore was excluded from the result of the Australian race. FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer reported Ricciardo to the stewards after finding his car “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100kg/h”.

As a result of the decision, Kevin Magnussen was elevated to second place with his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button third.

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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