Nico Rosberg kicked off the new era of Formula 1 with victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes team delivered on their pre-season promise by dominating the race in Albert Park, Melbourne.
Rosberg took the lead at the start and was never headed on his way to his fourth career victory, which he took by a comfortable twenty-four seconds.
The German made a superb start from third on the grid, passing Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton to take the number one spot.
Rosberg made the most of the W05’s speed advantage to streak away from the field at will. Even with the safety car called out following Valtteri Bottas’ brush against the wall and shedding the right-rear tyre, didn’t affected the Mercedes driver’s race.
Rosberg’s team-mate Hamilton slipped back to fourth on the first lap as he struggled with an engine problem in his Mercedes.
After initial confusion as to whether he should carry on, the 2008 world champion retired his W05 into the pits as early as the third lap of 57.
Australian home hero Ricciardo completed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Red Bull Racing by narrowly beating McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen to finish second.
The world champion team looked to be in desperate trouble in pre-season testing, but made enormous steps with its Renault-engined car in Australia, allowing Ricciardo to score an unlikely maiden podium in his first race for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
And yet hours after the Australian Grand Prix, the race stewards discovered that his Red Bull was found to have “exceeded consistently” the limit on peak fuel consumption of 100kg per hour, a new rule introduced for the 2014 season.
The end result means a disqualification for Daniel Ricciardo. Such a big shame after a brilliant drive in his home Grand Prix.
As for Sebastian Vettel, the defending world champion had a really short race affected by reliability problem in his RB10.
He started out of sequence on the medium tyre after a disappointing result in qualifying consigned him to a row six start.
His struggles with a lack of power from his Renault engine continued into the race and he joined Hamilton in retirement after only five laps.
McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen finished on the podium on his Formula 1 debut, after surviving a wild oversteer moment shortly after the start.
The reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion beat team-mate Jenson Button to second spot by 3.2 seconds.
The 2009 world champion started down on row five after his final flying lap in Q2 was spoiled by yellow flags, but he used smart strategy to jump from the fringes of the top ten to sixth as the safety car came out, then overhaul Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India at the second round of stops.
Williams driver Bottas overcame Jean-Eric Vergne’s wildly oversteering Toro Rosso and Hulkenberg in the closing stages to finish sixth, but will rue what might have been after a messy race.
The Finn starred in the early stages as he worked the Williams through to the top six from P15 on the grid, but the Finn touched the wall coming out of Turn 10 on lap 11 and broke his right-rear wheel.
He avoided suspension damage and pitted for a replacement, before working his way back through the field. A decent points finish was at least some reward for Williams after Felipe Massa was wiped out by Kamui Kobayashi’s locked-up Caterham at the first corner on the first lap.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari beat the Toro Rossos of Vergne and Formula 1 rookie Daniil Kvyat as these three completed the top ten.
At 19 years and 322 days, Kvyat becomes the youngest driver ever to score a championship point.
Perez’s Force India, both Saubers, and both Marussias also made the flag as 15 cars in total made the finish.
Jules Bianchi finished eight laps down and unclassified after failing to make it off the grid, causing an aborted start and forcing him to start from the pitlane behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean made it to lap 45 before retiring his troublesome twin-tusk E22, while team-mate Pastor Maldonado and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson also stopped out on-track shortly after half-distance.
So a fascinating race featuring the new rules for this season. Mercedes proved their impressive pre-season testing form with victory but reliability remains an issue.
Australian Grand Prix, race results after 57 laps:
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h32m58.710s
2. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +26.777s
3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +30.027s
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +35.284s
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +47.639s
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +50.718s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +57.675s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +1m00.441s
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1m03.585s
10. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m25.916s
11. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps
14. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari +8 laps*
DSQ Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +24.525s**
**Disqualified over fuel flow
Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 43 laps
Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 29 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 27 laps
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3 laps
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2 laps
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 0 laps
Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 0 laps
1. Nico Rosberg 25
2. Kevin Magnussen 18
3. Jenson Button 15
4. Fernando Alonso 12
5. Valtteri Bottas 10
6. Nico Hulkenberg 8
7. Kimi Raikkonen 6
8. Jean-Eric Vergne 4
9. Daniil Kvyat 2
10. Sergio Perez 1
1. McLaren/Mercedes 33
2. Mercedes 25
3. Ferrari 18
4. Williams/Mercedes 10
5. Force India/Mercedes 9
6. Toro Rosso/Renault 6
Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang. March 28-30.