As the 2014 Formula One season kicked off in Melbourne this morning with the Australian GP it was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg who secured the first win of the season. In a dominant performance from the German he left the field in his dust and sailed off to see the checkered flag 24.5 seconds ahead of anyone else.
In their debut races for their new teams Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen managed to secure second & third place. Securing them a podium finish in their first race for their respective teams.
Nico Rosberg started 3rd on the grid and after a great launch, he stormed past Lewis Hamilton and Ricciardo on the run down to turn one. From this moment on he was in a race of his own and blasted away from the rest of the pack to propel him onto the top spot of the podium.
With Rosberg’s dominant performance, the pace of the car was clear to see but unfortunately for the pole sitter it is a race to forget for Lewis Hamilton. After a sluggish start he was unable to hold off the storming Rosberg and the attacking Aussie and soon fell down the pecking order before resting in 5th place. By the end of the second lap, being in 5th wasn’t going to be the worst of things to happen as the team told him to retire the car. For one more lap he was able to continue but by the end of the third lap he was in the pits after a misfiring cylinder caused his race to come to an end.
With all the new rules and regulations in Formula One this year many expected retirements and in this race seven cars were forced to retire. These eight were Kamui Kobayashi, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Marcus Ericsson, Pastor Maldonado, and Romain Grosjean. Unfortunately for Jules Bianchi he was unclassified at the end of the race after being eight laps behind the lead meaning he failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
In a turn one incident between Kobayashi and Massa both cars received too much damage for either to continue. Kobayashi, who was making his F1 return after missing out on a 2013 drive, has admitted to causing the incident. When he approached the braking zone he applied the brakes way too late at the 50-metre board and by that time when he pressed the break pedal it was far too late, locked up the wheels and collided with Massa’s Williams. After the race he has claimed that he had lost all rear brakes, meaning only his front brakes had the ability to slow the car down.
As for the retirements for Vettel, the Lotus’ and others, these were mostly similar to Hamilton’s in the respect that these retirements were due to technical retirements rather than a collision. Vettel was forced to retire after he began to lose power. Ericsson’s (Caterham) retirement was due to an engine oil pressure issue. Grosjean and Maldonado’s retirement were both due to the loss of the MGU-K on lap 45, but even 45 laps for Lotus was something few would have expected with all the issues over the weekend.
With most of the retiring cars being due to technical issues, there was also a calamitous start to the race for both Marussia’s. At the start of the formation lap Max Chilton failed to leave his grid slot and was forced to start from the pit lane then once all cars returned to the grid it was over to Jules Bianchi to cause another formation lap. Both returned to the pit lane, joining Grosjean who was starting there. Chilton was able to join the race from the pit lane however it was not for a further few laps before Bianchi was able get going.
Now going away from the non-finishers to the podium party it was a great result for Rookie Kevin Magnussen and new Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo, starting 2nd on the grid of his home grand prix, had the backing of the fans for his Red Bull debut. Maintaining 2nd place from the line Ricciardo refused to lose out to more than Rosberg on the run down to turn one and from that point on it looked like he was going to be having a great home GP, providing he was fortunate with reliability after all of Red Bull’s woes over winter testing. As the race went on Magnussen began closing the gap to Ricciardo and soon started a battle with the Aussie for 2nd place. As the race approached its end Magnussen crept into DRS range but was unfortunately too far back to make a real charge. Tactically, the team chose to save fuel for a few laps and go for a last-ditch attack in the final laps but by that point he dropped too far back and finished 2.2 seconds behind the Red Bull.
But in a great day for McLaren, they were still able to achieve a podium finish in the first race of the season, something they were not able to achieve at any point in 2013. But 3rd was not all for the team as Jenson Button managed to achieve a 4th place finish, gaining 6 places from where he started the race.
Some of the positions Jenson was able to make up were during the safety car phase when teams chose to pit their cars. The safety car was brought out after Valtteri Bottas made contact with the wall coming out of turn 10.
Up to this point Valtteri had been driving a fantastic race and was charging through the field in his Williams. After contact with the wall it looked like Valtteri had broken his rear suspension. But as he limped on the wheel came off, revealing no structural damage to the car and after a pit stop for new wheels he was able to re-join the race. Despite the crash with the wall Valtteri won my driver of the day for his attacking display and was able to get back on the charge before finishing the race in 6th place.
Make sure to leave your driver of day in the poll at the bottom of this post.
For Ferrari it was a rather un-eventful day with Alonso finishing in 5th and Räikkönen finishing in 8th. In terms of their race they had no serious on track action of their own other than Bottas chasing down Räikkönen before he hit the wall. In Bottas’ chase of Räikkönen, on lap 35 Räikkönen locked up his front tyres rather heavily and ran wide cutting the grass on his way allowing Bottas to sail through without a challenge despite having a good chase sequence over the course of the previous few laps. Other than this the team reported they were suffering an electrical issue on both cars during the whole race. This issue meant they were unable to use full power, so maybe without it they would have been able to fight against the cars around them more.
Rosberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Button, Alonso, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Vergne, Kyvat, Perez, Sutil, Gutierrez, Chilton, Bianchi (unclassified), [Grosjean, Maldonado, Ericsson, Vettel, Hamilton, Massa, Kobayashi (DNF)]
Now this race is over and the teams start de-rigging of the garages, we look forward to Malaysia in two weeks time.