Belfast Telegraph

Nico wins Australian Grand Prix but Red Bull all shook up

By Ian Parkes

Red Bull face a showdown with the ruling FIA as Formula One's new era began in controversial fashion.

Just over five hours after Daniel Ricciardo had thrilled his home crowd in finishing runner-up to Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in the Australian Grand Prix on his debut for Red Bull, the 24-year-old was disqualified over a technical fuel infringement.

Within minutes of the FIA's decision being announced, the team said they intended to appeal.

The latest set of regulations, to accommodate the introduction of the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units and the various accompanying energy-saving devices, are highly complicated and technical.

Amongst them is that the cars now start with a maximum 100 kilograms of fuel, as opposed to 140-150kg in previous seasons, and operate with a fuel flow rate of no more than 100kg per hour.

Ricciardo's car, however, was found to consistently exceed that rate, and as a clear breach of the FIA regulations he has been excluded from the race result, now provisional until after a Court of Appeal hearing.

In layman's terms, the fuel-flow rate is monitored by an FIA sensor.

There have been accusations, however, the sensors are faulty and have been providing misleading readings.

Red Bull, of their own volition, chose to use their own sensor to determine the fuel-flow rate which had not been cleared by the FIA.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has confirmed Red Bull were warned twice about the matter after qualifying, and again five laps into the race, but chose to ignore the directive.

As an FIA statement read: "Regardless of the team's assertion that the sensor was at fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel-flow measurement model without the permission of the FIA."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, though, has described himself as "extremely disappointed" and " quite surprised" with the stewards' decision.

Horner added: "Through the appeal process it will be quite clear the car has conformed at all times with the regulations and we've fully complied with the technical regulations.

"We wouldn't be appealing if we weren't extremely confident we have a defendable case."

The race was dominated by Rosberg who finished 24.5 seconds ahead of Ricciardo, the duo joined on the podium by Kevin Magnussen on his F1 debut with McLaren. The 21-year-old became the first Dane to finish in the top three, and was followed closely home by team-mate Jenson Button who had started 10th.

The race, however, was less successful for Rosberg and Ricciardo's more illustrious team-mates as both Lewis Hamilton and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel retired due to technical issues after three and six laps respectively.

Behind Button was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen eighth.

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