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Rosberg rules Down Under to win memorable Australian GP

Mar 16, 2014, 3:42 AM EST

Kamui Kobayashi, Niko Rosberg AP

Nico Rosberg has won the opening round of the 2014 Formula 1 season in Australia today with a sparkling performance that saw him trounce the field in one of the most memorable races in years.

The German driver took the lead at the start of the race and managed to keep himself out of trouble to win his fourth grand prix as pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire after just three laps. Sebastian Vettel’s title defence started with a whimper as he too had to retire, but teammate Daniel Ricciardo kept the Red Bull flag flying to finish in second place at his home race, marking his first podium in Formula 1.

However, the stars of the day were Kevin Magnussen – who finished an incredible third on debut for McLaren – and Valtteri Bottas, who fought back from a grid penalty and a puncture to finish sixth for Williams by virtue of some incredible overtakes.

The 2014 Formula 1 season got off to something of a false start as both Marussias stalled on the grid, warranting an extra formation lap. When the race did get underway, Nico Rosberg made an incredible start to launch past teammate Lewis Hamilton and take the lead of the race, whilst Daniel Ricciardo stayed steady in second place.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel reported that he was losing power and began haemorrhaging places, and he quickly fell towards the back of the field. Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa got tangled at turn one and both crashed out, whilst Hamilton’s race lasted just three laps as he was told to retire due to an engine problem.

The start to Vettel’s championship defense went from bad to worse as he was forced to retire from the race after just four laps due to an engine problem. Adrian Sutil was also reporting problems, and six cars were already out of the race after just six laps. Valtteri Bottas was having no such issues though, moving up to sixth place from P15 on the grid with some great passes on the likes of Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen.

However, Bottas pushed too hard for his own good and hit the wall at turn ten, losing the tire on his left-right wheel. All of his hard work was undone as he was forced to pit for repairs before being sent on his way again. The safety car was soon sent out in order to pick up the debris from Bottas’ tire, bunching the pack and allowing some of the drivers to make a pit stop. Having stopped, Rosberg still led from Ricciardo and rookie Kevin Magnussen whilst Bottas was forced to start his fight back all over again from P16.

Off the restart, Rosberg quickly put his foot down and pull out a two second lead over Ricciardo as the Australian’s mirrors were filled by Kevin Magnussen. Bottas’ fightback began in earnest as he worked his way back into the top ten, whilst Alonso and Button set their sights on Hulkenberg’s fourth place. However, neither could find a way past the Force India to begin with, but a huge lock-up for the German driver allowed Alonso to close. Bottas’ next victim was Kvyat for P9, marking the second time the Finn had passed the Russian in the race, and he soon set his sights on compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in P8.

Having seen both cars stall on the grid, Marussia fought back well with Max Chilton leading the team’s charge. Jules Bianchi spent the race over six laps behind the leader after having extensive repair work done, but Chilton went into battle with Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson. However, the Swede was forced to retire from the race, ending the team’s day early. Pastor Maldonado also retired due to a problem with his power unit, leaving Romain Grosjean to fight on as the sole remaining Lotus. The Frenchman eventually had to stop with twelve laps to go, ending a disastrous weekend for the team.

At the front, Rosberg continued to push and saw his lead grow to over ten seconds. In second place, Ricciardo did well to drop Magnussen and set into a gentle rhythm on his Red Bull debut. Hulkenberg finally released Alonso by pitting in order to cover Button’s stop, but the Briton was able to pass the German driver by virtue of his earlier stop. When Alonso pitted two laps later, he split the two drivers. Bottas’ fight continued at Raikkonen’s expense, seeing him move up into fourth place before stopping.

As the final round of stops came about, the front three remained unchanged, but Magnussen did manage to cut the gap to Ricciardo with a quick pit stop. The Dane continued to push and closed to within two seconds of the Red Bull as he looked to make it a Mercedes-powered one-two. Rosberg’s lead stood at 16 seconds after stopping, but there was a minor bit of damage to his left front wheel caused at his final stop. Both Toro Rossos were running well in the top ten as Kvyat chased Raikkonen, but Vergne was under pressure from Bottas for seventh place. A mistake from the Frenchman at the final corner finally allowed the Finn past with ten laps to go, and he was soon on Hulkenberg’s tail for sixth place. The German driver couldn’t stop the Williams driver’s charge though

Having run in P2 for the entire race, Ricciardo finally came under some pressure from both McLarens in the closing stages. Magnussen managed to close on the Australian driver and get within DRS range, but he opted to save his rich fuel setting for the final two laps of the race. This allowed Ricciardo to pull away and ensure that he stayed in P2 come the checkered flag, but both drivers performed admirably to finish on the podium.

At the head of the field though, it was all about Nico Rosberg. The German driver proved that Mercedes is definitely the team to beat in 2013 by producing a near-perfect display, keeping his head whilst all around him lost theirs. He crossed the line over 20 seconds ahead of Ricciardo, and dominated proceedings from start to finish.

  1. markdartj - Mar 16, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    The new cars sound like flatulent heifers. I hope I can get used to it.

  2. Jeff - Mar 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    It’s not the sound that bothers me but the looks.
    These cars are the ugliest open-wheel race cars I have ever seen in my life.

    • worknman24hours - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      The popeye drop noses could be hacked sawed off and the cars would look a lot better.

      All I can think of is the omp a loompa’s in the popeye cartoons whenever I see those bulbous front noses.

  3. kitnamania13 - Mar 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Here is the analysis of the cars’ aesthetics, as described by the geniuses at F1rejects.com

    Williams: The Albatross
    Mercedes: The Stag Beetle
    Force India: The Horse
    Ferrari: The Warthog
    McLaren: The Anteater
    Toro Rosso: The Gonzo
    Marussia: The Echidna
    Sauber: The Dolphin
    Caterham: The Komodo Dragon
    Red Bull: The Pelican
    Lotus: The Walrus

  4. testover6370 - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Despite the noise and fuel restraints I love this new F1. That race was exciting and unpredictable. The cars were all over the place and hard to control. It took both precision and bravery. There was passing even without DRS. New stars are rising. Lots to enjoy. And I think except for the noses the cars look good.

  5. juliegrieve - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    OK race for the first of the season, at least I think so. The commercials were so out of control that we really didn’t get to see much racing. I sure miss the coverage of Sky Sports – you guys don’t come close.

  6. worknman24hours - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    HEY NICO!

    GREAT RACE!!!

    I saw a picture of Nico yesterday sitting in the car and saw the devilish glint of a winner in his eyes.

    I wished I’d have bet someone he’d win.

    darn it.

  7. justbysea - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    So congrates… between NBC and the FIA, F1 is now both boring as hell as well as uninspiring. I’ve never seen so many commercials in my life! I’ll never bother watching a F1 again. I swear over 25% of the air time was dedicated to commercials. NBC sucks!!!! As for the cars, most are so ugly a mother wouldn’t even love them and the cars sound like a bunch of Yugos without mufflers.

  8. WhiteDevil - Mar 16, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    F1 is a shadow of its former self.

    The only thing that makes it worth watching is right now all of the unknown factors make it interesting. If you’ve never been to an F1 race, then you don’t understand why people are upset with the new sound. The screaming sound of an F1 car coming towards you, rushing past, and vanishing in the distance is one of the greatest memories of my life. Now for the sake of the “Green Movement”, we have fuel consumption, no refueling during races, tires that last an entire race, and race car drivers turned into race car managers. It’s sad.

    I wish that Ferrari and McLaren would have left F1 like they threatened to, and started a new series. This isn’t the pinnacle of motorsports anymore. This is the pinnacle of conservatism. Less restrictions, less rules, breeds creativity and innovation. These cars and drivers used to be on the razor edge between control and disaster for an entire race. Now you get a chaotic start, cars following each other for 50 laps saving tires and fuel, and then pushing it for the last 10 laps.

    What a joke. It’s NASCAR with right turns.

  9. talon2fe - Mar 16, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    Great race! But, I’m a truck driver and have to watch F1 on the internet. Is there a way to get to NBC’s video without seeing the result first?

  10. bradstracks - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Why did we NOT get to see the first pits stops of the F1 season?!?!? (When Button went from 9th to 6th)

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