UPDATE: Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo has been disqualified by race officials for breaking Article 5.1.4 of the Formula 1 Technical Regulations. Put more simply, his car consumed too much fuel over the course of the race. Red Bull has appealed the decision, claiming that readings from the fuel flow meters used in the first race of the 2014 F1 season were inconsistent. The text of this report has been changed to reflect this information.

The first chapter of the new Formula One era has been written with the conclusion of the Australian Grand Prix, and it included a rookie rush, some resurgent and some unsurprising performances, the sound of screeching tires and a couple of firsts.

Outside predictions as to the pace of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team were proved as soon as the Friday practice sessions, with Lewis Hamilton recovering from an engine sensor fault in the first session to top the second, followed by teammate Nico Rosberg. That didn't change come the start of qualifying, not even the rain slowing down the Silver Arrows, Hamilton taking pole as the last man across the line in Q3.

The surprises were in the order behind him, with new Infiniti Red Bull Racing man Daniel Ricciardo grabbing second spot just three-tenths of a second down on Hamilton. Ricciardo not only looked like he belonged at the front of the grid the entire weekend, but he seems to have reversed the Mark Webber jinx: four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel had car issues and didn't get into Q3, having to settle for 13th on the grid.

After Ricciardo came Rosberg in the second Mercedes, McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in fourth, then Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari in fifth, Jean-Eric Vergne in the first Toro Rosso, Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India, rookie Daniil Kyvat in the second Toro Rosso and the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top ten.

Almost all of that would change as soon as the lights went out.
The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

Hamilton got an uncharacteristically bad start, overtaken by Rosberg, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg before the second corner, his German teammate taking the race lead. The rest of his lap was the same, Hamilton getting passed by the rest of the top ten before race radio confirmed he was down on power; he was out of the race on Lap 2 with his V6 running on just five cylinders.

Rosberg, who only led 134 laps all of last year, grabbed the race by the neck and choked it into submission. He had a 2.8-second gap on Ricciardo by Lap 5, which grew to a 24-second gap by the end of the race when he crossed the line in first. The only incidents during his race to victory were trifles that both happened in the pits: on his first stop he almost hit the pit crew in front of the Mercedes box while pulling out, and on his second stop the left front carbon fiber cover over the brakes, called the "cake tin," was damaged as a wheel was being put on. Otherwise he was unscathed and untouched.

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

Ricciardo was just as solid behind him, never troubling Rosberg and keeping Magnussen in his rear-view when being stalked late in the race. Up until his DQ, he could not have had a better start to his Red Bull tenure, especially after the miserable pre-season testing the team endured and driving in front of his home crowd. If he would have finished second without being disqualified, this would have been the first time an Australian has earned a place on the Australian Grand Prix podium. In the end, though, post-race inspection finding that his fuel flow "exceeded consistently the maximum" rate of 100 kg/hour. The FIA pledged zero tolerance for such infractions, and it only took a few hours after the podium ceremony to disqualify him from the race. Red Bull is appealing the decision because it said the FIA-supplied fuel flow sensor gave faulty readings - it had been happening all weekend and the FIA knew about it - so the team used its own readings. At this time, the DQ remains in effect, and we'll have to wait and see if Red Bull's appeal is successful or not.

His teammate had things go The Webber Way, Vettel losing his KERS before the race began and limping around for five laps before retiring, but not before letting his team know what he thought of the power unit failure, saying over the radio, "That's ridiculous, guys."

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

Magnussen was the first of the storming rookies, locking onto third place and hanging onto it with a perfect drive. Due to Riccciardo's DQ, he was moved up to second place. He provided shades of 2007, qualifying in the highest position a rookie has managed since Lewis Hamilton – also a neophyte with McLaren – did it in 2007, then beating Hamilton's third-place finish at the end. It is the first time in the history of F1 that a Dane has been on the podium. His teammate Jenson Button, 11th on the grid at the start, drove his usual scholarly manner into a third-place finish, benefiting from a pit-stop undercut to nab two places, leapfrogging over the DQ'd Red Bull and, finally, a good McLaren.

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

A crash going into the first corner on the first lap had stirred up the pack, Kamui Kobayashi on his return to F1 in the Caterham going locked up his brakes because of what the FIA stewards later called a "serious technical failure," tapping Kimi Räikkönen's Ferrari before clobbering the back of Massa's Williams. Kobayashi and Massa both ended up in the gravel trap and out of the race.

Bottas experienced the opposite fortunes, the Finn driving a Williams in ways we haven't seen since the days of Juan Pablo Montoya. Bottas was into seventh place on Lap 8 but hit the wall on Lap 10, breaking off a chunk of his right rear wheel and losing his tire. He limped back to the pits, but the debris brought out the safety car for four laps. The nine-minute reprieve from full-on racing gave drivers some leeway with fuel, it also kept us from knowing how well Bottas could have done. Emerging from the pits in 17th, he climbed back through the field to finish sixth.

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

Ferrari, expected to be in the second-best position after pre-season testing, didn't have much to say all weekend. Alonso qualified fifth and finished fifth, his notes of being down on top speed, traction, braking consistency compared to Mercedes and not being happy with the car's performance sounding suspiciously like early-season laments from the last five years. Räikkönen, known to be unsettled by the touchiness of the brake-by-wire rear brakes, managed to keep it together and overcome tire graining to improve his 12th-place grid position to an eighth-place finish.

Hülkenberg, who appears to be able to put any car he drives into the top ten, started and finished seventh. The Toro Rosso duo completed the top ten, Vergne taking ninth ahead of the 19-year-old Russian rookie Kyvat who drove a strong first race.

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

Fifteen of the 22 starters finished the race but only 14 were classified, Jules Bianchi in the Marussia too far behind to earn a spot. That's more cars across the line than many expected. Not unexpected: the reception to the sound of the V6 engines. Now that we've experienced their sustained battle chorus, it's going to take some time to associate the sound with proper F1; frankly, the cars sound like a support series, and the engines are so quiet that you can hear the tires screeching under lockup and when peeling out at the end of pit stops. After one of Hülkenberg's particularly nasty lock-ups, one commenter watching a live feed wrote, "It sounds like someone stepped on my cat."

Those moments were also about the only bit of excitement during the 57-lap challenge; save for the opening laps, Bottas' charge and Button's pit-stop maneuver there was precious little passing for most of the race.

The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix

None of that changes the final standings, though, with the top ten finishers making up the top ten in the Driver's World Championship standings. McLaren, having finished third and fourth, takes control of the Constructor's Championship with 27 points, followed by Mercedes with 25, Red Bull with 18, Ferrari with 14 and Williams with 8. By the way, Williams scored more points in this race than it did all of last year. Good on them.

More than usual, it's difficult to know how the season will unfold after this initial outing. The next race to continue this very long season happens on March 30 in Sepang, Malaysia. We'll be back then.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      Lachmund
      • 9 Months Ago
      the sound is embarrassing
      JW
      • 9 Months Ago
      I thought the cars looked slow and sounded horrible. It was more like watching a support race than what is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport. I was happy, however, that the predictions of poor reliability didn't come to fruition. (Too bad for Hamilton and Vettel.)
      MotionDesigner
      • 9 Months Ago
      Listening to a single car, like when they show the views from the cockpit, I don't think the engines sound that bad - the turbo adds a nice touch too. It's only when you hear ALL the cars with their engine sounds combined during the race that they sound as weird as they look. It's a weird snorty sound, and it's quiet compared to those V8's. I miss those high-pitched V8's. But if these new rules and regulations means that RBR can't find a way to secretly exploit whatever they were exploiting for the last 4 seasons without getting caught, and it puts them into mortal territory with the rest of the cars, then no complaints from me. Vettel qualified 13th. That's gotta mean something.
      crunge4461
      • 9 Months Ago
      I do not really care about the sound of the cars. Ok, so they are a little quieter, that does not really bother me terribly, though I acknowledge that the sound of the V-10s back when they were pushing 20,000 RPMs was pretty mean. What I really care about is the speed. F1 cars are safer than ever, the tracks are so safe they are boring, I want the cars to be faster, the fact that they are a bit slower and there is a concerted effort to keep them slower I find troublesome. Go faster please!
        ufgrat
        • 9 Months Ago
        @crunge4461
        In a straight line, they *are* going faster. Less downforce, less drag, equals higher top speed.
          crunge4461
          • 9 Months Ago
          @ufgrat
          I understand that, I was referring to lap times and cornering speeds.
      FVL - Car Leasing
      • 9 Months Ago
      Nice summary of qualification and the race. It was great to see Bottas powering through the field, and also to see the two new rookies scoring points in their first race. A shame that Massa was taken out on that first corner, and reassuring to know that it was a technical failure that cause Kobayashi to hit him, rather than driver error. Ferrari were disappointing, but we noted that both cars had a race-long 'electrical issue' which seems to have affected their performance. Looks set to be a fascinating season.
      weagle99
      • 9 Months Ago
      Most of these new cars are so ugly. The nose of the Ferrari looks like a melted dustbuster.
      Rr778
      • 9 Months Ago
      Nicely written recap
      EZen
      • 9 Months Ago
      In This Thread: A bunch of people complaining about the sound and not enjoying the fact that it was an excellent race. Tons of passing, dicing, oversteer moments with these new, torquey engines, etc. It was a great actual race. Boo frickity hoo about the engine noise.
        Cayman
        • 9 Months Ago
        @EZen
        I couldn't agree more. I probably prefer the old sound more, but I certainly don't get the "I'm done with F1" sentiment. Did some of you really only watch for the sound? Personally, I'd take the new sound with the added driver difficulty in driving with the new turbo's and more power electrical unit. Not to mention, the rule reset allows us to see how the engineers take different solutions to solve the same problem before they all start zeroing in on the best configuration.
        Ross
        • 9 Months Ago
        @EZen
        F1 is sound! What in the world are you guys talking about passing? Dicing? Oversteer? What??? We need the sound back. That is part of the experience of F1. There was plenty of dicing and passing before. It just so happened that one team and we all know who....was leaps and bounds ahead. All they had to do was take away the diffuser! WE NEED THE F1 WAIL!!!
      Ron
      • 9 Months Ago
      I am a life long F1 fan, and I really don't like these rules. F1 should not be an economy run; fuel flow limits, reductions in total fuel, rev. limits, etc. all just punish the faster cars. I want them to unlimited the fuel flow, unlimited the max amount of fuel, allow pit stop refueling, and remove the rev limits, and put some down force back on the chassis. Who knows.. Hopefully once they double the Rev's these new engines might not sound like a dying goat.
      ls2905
      • 9 Months Ago
      Wow. Cutting edge commentary here Autoblog. I like this website, but your F1 reporting is appalling. This report is 12 hours out of date, after Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified for breaching rules regarding fuel usage. So Red Bull leave Australia with ZERO points. Also, I was there and the engines sound amazing, a fantastic mix of mechanical noises, induction sounds and exhausts, as well as tire screeching, too, all the sounds that were drowned out by those "screaming" V8's. If volume = enjoyment just turn up your TV.
        Cayman
        • 9 Months Ago
        @ls2905
        From what I've read, the DQ will likely be overturned. I agree a somewhat about the engines. The sound isn't what wer're used to inF1, but I would say its a horrible sound.
          ufgrat
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Cayman
          I don't think it's going to be overturned. The FIA report is pretty damaging, and basically says that Red Bull didn't comply with the set procedure, or with multiple warnings given during the race. The two other teams that received warnings *did* comply. The FIA gave Red Bull multiple chances to comply with the regs, and RBR basically told them to go pound sand. Sucks for Ricciardo-- he drove fantastically well, and he doesn't deserve to lose his points. But more fuel equals more horsepower, which means more speed, so there's no way of knowing what his actual pace should have been.
          Cayman
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Cayman
          We'll see, but like I said I read a couple different articles stating they thought it likely would be overturned. I don't know the internals of F1 politics, other than that they are inconsistent and shady at best, but I would think the fact that RBR openly disobeyed the rules rather than trying to hide it would work in their favor. They clearly have a better idea than most of us how strong their position is, and with them outright denying the delegates demand, they have to know it's going to get reported. I would guess the fact that it reportedly took a 5 hour deliberation to decide to DQ him, it's not such a clear cut case. But like I said, we'll see.
        Pj Taintz
        • 9 Months Ago
        @ls2905
        their racing coverage is horrible, not just for F1 (which I feel is the only series they care about based on coverage number)
        StephenT
        • 9 Months Ago
        @ls2905
        Since you were there, could you sit and watch without ear protection? I know when I go to watch sports cars every year at Road Atlanta I don't have to have ear protection and I was just trying to get an idea of the noise level of the new F1 cars.
        Pat
        • 9 Months Ago
        @ls2905
        I for one am happy that AB take a few hours to post the results since I don't have a chance to listen to it live. I stay away from every form of media until I have a chance to watch the race.
      Andyz
      • 9 Months Ago
      The sound of these cars is a big, big disappointment...and it will affect viewing and spectator figures, they sound like the 4 stroke GP bikes. All this technology so we can have green F1 racing, give me a break, IT'S RACING FFS! Every change in engine formula has been progressive, but this is so much in one package. Even with wide open DRS and tons more K power I did not see much over-taking....way to spoil a good thing FIA, Oh yes NBSSN coverage sucks, live coverage...I have never seen some many ad breaks, and no repeat during waking hrs USA
        zero
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Andyz
        It looks nice the new readers haven't listened the sound from 1980s Formula One powered V6 engine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-npEh41xiU
        PatrickH
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Andyz
        No tape delayed repeat is a little annoying, but I've had a DVR box for 9 years now. I just recorded it and then watched it around 12 noon yesterday.
      Ben Lee
      • 9 Months Ago
      I havent watched F1 in years so tried watching this due to the friendly start time. The cars sound and look horrible. I just get help to think that something about F1 is rigged.
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