It was a case of delight and then huge disappointment for The Team at the Australian Grand Prix as home hero Daniel scored his first podium finish with a superb drive to second place, only for the result to be excluded by the FIA’s stewards hours after the race.
Daniel’s first race for the team saw him deliver a charging, though always measured, performance that ended in him becoming the first Australian driver to stand on the podium at his home grand prix. At the start he held on to his starting place of second while around him the lead changed hands, with Nico Rosberg leaping from third to first after pole winner Lewis Hamilton got away badly.
After that the bulk of the remaining laps were about race management for Daniel and the pit wall, and even when he came under pressure from McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in the closing stage, the unflappable Daniel didn’t put a foot wrong.
However, the riotous celebrations on the podium and in the grandstands were soon muted as the news filtered through that the FIA was investigating a possible transgression regarding fuel flow. The sport’s new rules call for fuel use to be carefully regulated to 100kg/h during the race and according to officials Daniel’s car was believed to have gone beyond this tolerance.
Some four hours later the race stewards eventually delivered their verdict – Daniel was disqualified from the result. The team announced its intention to immediately appeal. The verdict was a painful end to the opening race day of the season, especially as Sebastian Vettel’s championship defence also got off to a rocky start when he was forced to retire from the race after just five laps with a power unit issue.
Just before the race start, on the second formation lap (which had been necessitated by Marussia’s Jules Bianchi failing to get away from the grid), Sebastian complained that his RB10 was down on power and the problem persisted through he opening laps of the race. Seb pitted on lap five but failed to emerge again.
Despite disappointment at the early end to his own race, Sebastian reserved his sympathy for his team-mate, saying “I feel very sorry for Daniel, as there isn’t anything better than a good race result at your home GP”.Of his own problems during the race Seb said: “We don’t know why it happened and we don’t understand the problem yet.
Everything is linked, so in the beginning I thought I just had no power from the battery, but it turned out that the engine failed in some way. It’s complicated how everything works together, but in the end, the overall effect is that you have to stop the car.” (Red Bull Racing)