|Nico Rosberg celebrates|
Nico Rosberg grabbed the lead at the start in Australia on Sunday from polesitter and teammate Lewis Hamilton and drove his Mercedes to a dominant 24.5s victory over local hero Daniel Ricciardo.
The Red Bull driver made the most of the team’s extraordinary turnaround to become the first Australian to finish on the podium at home. An impressive debut drive from Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen led McLaren 3-4 ahead of teammate Jenson Button.
The race began with drama when the first start had to be aborted as Jules Bianchi’s Marussia stalled at the start. Moments earlier teammate Max Chilton’s sister car had also stalled on the grid formation lap, so the two joined Romain Grosjean’s Lotus in starting from the pit lane. The race was thus shortened by a lap.
|Nico Rosberg passes Lewis Hamilton at the start|
Polesitter Lewis Hamilton was very slow away in his Mercedes and immediately lost places to Rosberg and Ricciardo, and by lap three it was over for the Englishman as he brought his F1 W05 into the pits to retire. The team later said that his engine was misfiring on one cylinder.
World champion Sebastian Vettel's miserable weekend continued. He who complained on the grid formation lap that his Red Bull was down on power and retired the lemon after five laps.
At the start Kamui Kobayashi made what seemed to be a great getaway as he pulled alongside Valtteri Bottas’s Williams. Unfortunately the Caterham driver then got his braking wrong, locked up and made contact with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari before clobbering the innocent Felipe Massa’s Williams as they headed into Turn One. Both Kobayashi and Massa were instant retirements, whilst the Japanese driver - who accepted responsibility for the incident - was summoned to see the stewards.
|Nico Rosberg dominated for Mercedes|
There was plenty of action in the opening laps as Rosberg headed Ricciardo, Magnussen, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and the Toro Rosso duo of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat.
Bottas was the man on the move, passing fellow countryman Raikkonen in a bold move round the outside on the eighth lap. But Williams’ chance of better than his eventual sixth place was compromised when he slid wide and hit the outside wall coming out of Turn 10, damaging his right rear tire. He was able to pit to have it replaced, but the safety car was deployed on the 12th lap as a chunk of the FW36’s wheel rim had to be removed from the track.
|Bottas in the Williams pressured then passed Kimi Raikkonen around the outside as the Ferrari driver struggled with the handling of his Ferrari|
McLaren acted very quickly to call Button in, and he was able to jump from ninth place to sixth.
When the race resumed on the 16th lap, Rosberg pulled away again and was able to control things easily from the front with few worries about fuel conservation. His one problem was some front tire graining in his middle stint, but by staying out he was able to drive through that and keep up the momentum.
Ricciardo looked a comfortable second for much of the race, but towards the end Magnussen got close but he didn’t quite have the pace to get closer than 2.2s by the flag. He was delighted to be the first Dane ever to grace an F1 podium.
Button moved into fourth place after another the clever bit of pit work on lap 32 which put him ahead of Hulkenberg and Alonso. He closed in on his teammate for a while, but ultimately finished another 3.2s down. Their combined performance, however, puts McLaren at the head of the constructors’ points table with 27 points to Mercedes’ 25 as the team bounced back on the MP4-29’s debut.
Alonso got the jump on Hulkenberg in their final stops, and as he struggled a little the German lost sixth place to the flying Bottas in the closing laps. The Finn was another of the race’s stars, his speed leaving the revitalized Williams team to ponder what might have been without that wall-brushing incident, let alone if Massa had not been taken out by Kobayashi.
Raikkonen had a disappointing race, losing a place to Bottas after going too deep into a corner and sliding into the dirt. Behind him, Vergne was disappointed that his Toro Rosso lost pace in the closing stages which enabled the Finn to slip by, while teammate Kvyat drove superbly confidently on his debut to join the elite who have scored a point first time out. At 19, the Russian rookie also became the youngest points-scorer in F1 history.
That was an incredible day for us. To start the season with a win is unbelievable and I have to say a big thank you to everybody who was involved in building our car over the winter. 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. However, despite our success today, we also know that there is still some work to do. We saw over the weekend that reliability is still a concern and it prevented us from having a strong two-car finish. We have two weeks to improve that. I am very much looking forward to Malaysia and I would love to race again tomorrow!
My start didn't feel great today and I had a lot less power than usual when pulling away, so it was obvious immediately that something was wrong. It looks like we only had five cylinders firing and, while I wanted to keep going, we had to play safe and save the engine. It's unfortunate but that's racing and we will recover from this. We have a great car and engine, and the pace was really strong today as Nico clearly showed. Big congratulations to him and the team for achieving the win, it's a fantastic result for us. Of course I'm disappointed with my own race and when I think about all the work that has gone on back at our factories, it's tough to have a costly hiccup. However we have achieved an incredible amount to get here, to be at the front and to be so competitive; we will bounce back and learn from this. There is a very long way to go this season.
The car performed very well today which is looking encouraging for the season ahead, and on the whole as a team we can be pleased that we have made a good step forward from last season. I'm a little disappointed with myself because I was pushing a bit too hard and hit the wall which caused a puncture and put me back a long way. I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for that mistake and managed to make some good overtakes, but I need to learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again. It felt great to be able to race hard with people around me and I want to say a big thank you to the race team and everyone back at Grove and Brixworth who have done a great job with this car. We should have finished higher today than we did with the pace we had and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Malaysia.
I'm obviously very disappointed as I had the sort of car capable of challenging for a podium today, but the incident in the first corner ruined my race. I tried to have a calm start and not take any risks, but was hit from behind after Kobayashi braked too late and there was nothing I could do to avoid being taken out of the race. It's a shame but there are a lot of positive things that the team can take from this weekend in terms of pace and reliability, so I'm just thinking about the next race and having a strong result there.
Results (57 Laps)
: Nico Rosberg 1:32.478