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Rosberg Victorious In Australian F-1 Opener

Nico Rosberg grabbed the lead at the start of Sunday’s Formula One Australian Grand Prix and was never really challenged as he and Mercedes ushered in Formula One racing’s new 1.6-litre turbo engine era with a dominant 24.5 second victory over local hero Daniel Ricciardo at Albert Park on the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

The Red Bull driver made the most of the team’s extraordinary turnaround to become the first Australian to finish on the podium at his home Grand Prix. Unfortunately for Ricciardo, he didn’t get to celebrate for long. Stewards later stripped him of his second-place finish after discovering his car exceeded the maximum fuel-flow limit during Sunday’s race.

That catapulted Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen to second and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button to third. Red Bull is contesting the decision and has filed an appeal.

“It’s been an amazing time here in Melbourne,” Rosberg said. “It’s been an amazing day. I’m just over the moon really. It’s incredible, everybody has worked so hard over the winter and now to have such an amazing Silver Arrow to drive is just unreal. This thing was unbelievably quick today and the reliability was good also, so it was just the perfect start to the season. I’m really thankful to Mercedes, they have done an amazing job over the winter.”

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 Banbury-built machines joined Romain Grosjean’s Lotus in starting from the pit lane. The race was thus shortened by a lap.

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. It was subsequently revealed that his engine was misfiring on one cylinder.

The other drama at the start involved Kamui Kobayashi, who made what seemed to be a great start 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 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.

There was plenty of action in the opening laps as Rosberg lead 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 Bottas then 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.

McLaren acted very quickly to call Button in to the pits 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 was a comfortable second at the flag, an impressive finish for the Red Bull team until the disqualification was announced.

Towards the end Magnussen kept pushing in his McLaren in an attempt to catch Ricciardo. In the end he didn’t quite have the pace to get closer than 2.2 seconds at the flag, but he became the first Dane ever to grace an F-1 podium – and to score one immediately for a team that didn’t get close to one in 2013.

“The car was so much better than it’s been at any point,” Magnussen said. “We just keep improving the car. I had just exactly what I need the whole race. The preparation we’ve done this winter has been fantastic. I’ve never done a Formula One (race) and testing is so limited, so big congratulations to the team for doing such a good job.”

Following the McLaren duo at the finish were Alonso, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Raikkonen, Vergne, Kvyat and Sergio Perez.

It turned out to be an all-around miserable day for the Red Bull team. While Ricciardo had his second-place finish stripped from him following the race, defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel barely got out of the starting gate. Vettel complained on the grid formation lap that his Red Bull was down on power. He completed five laps before retiring his car for the race.

Car No.
1. 3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 57
2. 2 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 57
3. 11 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 57
4. 5 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 57
5. 10 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 57
6. 7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 57
7. 12 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 57
8. 6 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 57
9. 8 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 57
10. 16 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 57
11. 14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 56
12. 19 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 56
13. 17 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 55
14. 18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 49
15. 21 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 43
16. 22 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 29
17. 20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 27
18. 13 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3
19. 1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2
20 9 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 0
21. 15 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 0
22. 2 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault DQ



New Rules For Formula One

A number of rule changes have been announced for the Formula One World Championship. (Steve Etherington Photo)

A number of rule changes have been announced for the Formula One World Championship.

Following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris on Monday, a number of rule changes have been announced for the Formula One World Championship.

Among the new rules announced is that double drivers’ and constructors’ points will be awarded at the final race of the Formula One season in order to maximize focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign.

Also announced is that drivers will be asked to choose their race number, between 2 and 99, for the duration of their career in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Number 1 will be reserved for the current World Champion, should he choose to use it.

If more than one driver chooses the same number, priority will be given to the driver who finished highest in the previous year’s championship.

Other new rule changes include:

- The principle of a global cost cap has been adopted. The limit will be applied from January 2015. A working group will be established within the coming days comprising the FIA, representatives of the Commercial Rights Holder and Team representatives.

The objective of the working group will be to have regulations approved by the end of June 2014.

- The F1 Commission agreed to a change to the 2013 Sporting Regulations, on safety grounds, allowing the Formula One tire supplier to carry out a three-day test in Bahrain from 17-19 December, 2013. All Formula One teams have been invited to take part in the test and six have accepted: Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso.

- The principle of a five-second penalty for minor infringements was agreed. In what form such a penalty will be applied will be discussed with Formula One’s teams in order that a new regulation be introduced for 2014 season.

These changes are immediately applicable, given the mandate assigned to the FIA President at the last World Motor Sport Council meeting.