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Rosberg, Mercedes victorious in Melbourne

In spite of dire predictions, the new Formula One era gets off to a successful start

Published: March 16, 2014, 2:00 PM

UPDATE: Ricciardo's second place finish was excluded from the results as his car was found to have exceeded the allowed 100kg/h fuel-flow rate during the race -  a factor over which the driver had no control.

As was widely expected, based on pre-season testing and pre-race qualifying, a Mercedes was the first to take the checkered flag at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today.

But widespread predictions of chaos resulting from reliability issues and too-tight fuel-consumption targets proved unfounded as 15 of the 22 starters went on to finish, 11 on the lead lap.

Iit was Nico Rosberg at the wheel of the winning Mercedes rather than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, who faltered at the start and dropped out two laps later with a misfiring engine.

Apparently having overcome the team's pre-season woes, it was a Red Bull in second place, right from the start. Not the familiar figure of Sebastian Vettel but his new Australian team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo – to the delight of his local fans.

Vettel still seemed not to have come to grips with the all-new car, languishing in 12th after qualifying and withdrawing with an engine down on power after three laps.

There were some surprises in the race. McLaren rookie, Kevin Magnussen drove a solid race to convert his brilliant fourth-place qualifying run into a third-place podium finish. And his team-mate, Jenson Button came home fourth, aided by some sharp strategy as well as a competent drive.

Fernando Alonso, who many expected to challenge the front runners in his Ferrari, just maintained his fifh-place starting position. And his new team-mate, ex Ferrari World Champion Kimi Raikkonen managed an unspectacular eighth spot from an 11th-place qualifying position.

They were spit by Valteri Bottas's Williams in sixth and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India in seventh, while the Toro Rosso duo of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Kvat completed the top ten, thus scoring points towards the World Championship. At age 19, the Russian Kvat is the youngest driver to score points in F1 history.

Massa and Kobayashi both went out in a first-lap melee inspired by the latter.

The next race on the schedule is the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 30.