Daniel Ricciardo has made history at Albert Park, claiming second place in his first drive for the Red Bull racing team.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the Australian F1 Grand Prix, but a cool and incident-free drive from the young Aussie had him in second place for most of the afternoon.
Ricciardo is the first Australian to finish on the podium of a world championship F1 race, and he has never finished in the top six of a Grand Prix race before. Denmark’s Kevin Magnusson, in a Maclaren, came third in his first Grand Prix.
Rosberg took advantage of others’ misfortune with gun rivals Sebastien Vettel and Lewis Hamilton early casualties.
“A few weeks ago I would have bet everything we have that we wouldn’t be standing up here,” Ricciardo said after the race, referring to car problems that many thought would Red Bull’s efforts in Australia.
“Full credit to the team for an unbelievable turnaround. I don’t understand how they did it, but they did, so thank you guys.”
He paid tribute to his many Australian supporters.
“To the Aussie fans, wow, it’s completely overwhelming. (I have) no words … I’m really pleased to be (on the podium) and to be the first Aussie on the Aussie podium.”
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was out early after experiencing technical problems, while Hamilton was overtaken and given team instructions to retire. In TV interviews Vettel spoke calmly, despite reports of animated conversations with pit staff.
“I lost power, tried to recover but there was a bigger problem with the engine,” Vettel told TV reporters.
The race began chaotically with Kamui Kobayashi’s vehicle impacting upon Felipe Massa of Brazil.
Kobayashi later took responsibility for the incident.
Hamilton was also philosophical about his departure, saying “it’s racing”.
After crossing the finishing line, Nico Rosberg couldn’t contain his exhilaration.
“What a car you’ve given me,” he yelled joyously.
On the podium, Rosberg said it had been an amazing day and paid tribute to Mercedes management.
“Everyone has worked so hard over the (northern) winter…
“This (car) was unbelievably quick today and the manoeuvrability was good also.
“It was just the perfect start to the season and I’m really, really thankful to Mercedes. They’ve done an amazing job over the winter.”