The new era of Formula One kicked off with the season opener in Australia and it turned out to be one hell of a race. Full of retirements, rookies and wheel to wheel combat. Taking it back to Friday morning we finally saw the teams gear up for the first competitive weekend of the year after last season we all hoped to see a shakeup in the running order and we got that in some respects.
Alonso topped FP1 with a 1:31.840, with the McLaren of Jenson Button making a welcome return to the sharp end of the times. Williams gave us all something to smile about as both drivers made it into the top 5-showing a glimmer of hope that their pre season form is going to continue season long, allowing them to restore themselves as a regular front runner.
Mercedes put themselves top for the FP2 and FP3 in challenging conditions, with some of the other drivers claiming they are at least 1 second a lap clear of the rest of the field in race trim.
Qualifying gave us a few surprises, Kobayashi put a Caterham up into 14th place in his first racing weekend back after a season away from the sport, Marussias Max Chilton made a clear statement of intent to silence some of his critics by out qualifying his teammate by half a second as well as missing out on Q2 by less than 0.1 seconds.
Red Bull looked on the pace with Ricciardo posting times within the top 3 in each qualifying session, beating Vettel. He more than beat him, he went 10 places further up the grid than him, with Vettel missing out on Q3 ending the sesion in 13th (moved up to 12th after Bottas took a 5 place grid penalty) and Ricciardo nearly put in a dream first appaearance for Red Bull taking provisional pole position. Rosberg couldn't take the place back as he had already finished his last timed lap, but his teammate wound up for one more attempt and put in a lap that looked on the edge, factoring in a huge slide out of Turn 7, but it was enough to go 3 tenths faster than the next quickest to give Lewis his first pole position of 2014.
Albert Park gave us action from the word go. Two formation laps due to a few issues towards the back of the grid and then a big accident between Kobayashi and the Williams of Filipe Massa. Apparent rear brake failure meant the Japanese driver became a green missile that took Massa clean off of the circuit, clipping Raikkonen's Ferrari as he did so.
Massa called for action to be taken and even suggested Kobayashi shold be given a race ban although the stewards have looked into it and have taken no further action. Meanwhile back up at the front of the grid Rosberg had snatched the lead into Turn 1, reversing his position with Hamilton. He streaked away into the lead while Hamilton fell back into the clutches of Magnussen and Hulkenberg.
Magnussen did wel to hold it together after a huge moment off the line that shot him across the front of Alonso, and after passing Hamilton the threat of the Brit mounting an attack to get the position back as Hamilton retired- a huge shame after what was shaping up as a good weekend for him. Another World Champion was forced to retire, one that perhaps proved a little too popular with some of the fans... the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.
Both of the World Champions would be joined by by 5 others back in the garages, both Lotuses retiring late on in the race which was probably still seen as a good result for them considering most people wondered if they would complete any laps at all.
Max Chilton capitalised on the 'free' positions and kept his nose clean to come home 14th, he also displayed a step forward in terms of his pace and consistency, staying out of trouble and finishing yet another race to add to the 19 from last season. A solid performance. Fellow Brit Jenson Button but in a consistent, solid performance also-climbing from 11th on lap 1 up to 4th by the time he crossed the line at the end of lap 57. He was beaten to the final podium step by rookie sensation Kevin Magnussen who equaled the impressive debut performance for McLaren that Hamilton produced back in 2007.
Fellow rookie Daniil Kyvat also impressed, showing he isn't afraid to get his elbows out and fight World Champions on track he looked very at home behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso. The Carlin graduate and 2013 GP3 champion came home 10th to become the youngest driver ever to score a point in F1.
Another young driver that could have finished high up, possibly on the podium who knows, was Valtteri Bottas. Even after contact with the wall that cost him his rear right tyre he fought back up through the field to come home 6th showing good pace along the way.
There wasn't a huge amount to talk about when the focus turns to Nico Rosberg after he drove a near perfect race, pulling away from Daniel Ricciardo, managing his fuel and tyres well to finish 24.5 seconds ahead as he won the opening race of the 2014 season. Daniel Ricciardo finished on the podium for the first time in his F1 career which went down a storm with the local fans, his smile from ear to ear a nice sight on the podium for the locals and the team.