Formula One’s season-opening race ended in rancor and controversy Sunday as initial second-place finisher Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull was disqualified for a breach of fuel regulations, five hours after Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took the checkered flag at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Ricciardo’s exclusion from the results tarnished what had been a day of celebration for local fans, who were jubilant that the Red Bull driver had apparently become the first Australian to finish on the podium at his home race.
However, just before midnight, stewards ruled that Ricciardo’s car had “exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow” and that the team refused an instruction from the race’s technical delegate Charlie Whiting to change the fuel-flow sensor before the race and a further request during the race to reduce the fuel flow.
Red Bull immediately announced it would appeal the decision.
“Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane,” a Red Bull statement said.
“The team and (engine supplier) Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations.”
The exclusion capped a day of shocks at the Albert Park street circuit.
Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and defending four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel suffered engine failures, illustrating the difficulties all teams are having getting performance and reliability out of the sport’s new V6 hybrid engines.
Ricciardo’s disqualification meant Kevin Magnussen was promoted to second in his debut race, ahead of his McLaren teammate Jenson Button.
Doug Kalitta and Robert Hight won the top two divisions at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Kalitta beat former series champion Antron Brown in the Top Fuel division Sunday, and Hight topped his boss, 16-time champion John Force, in the Funny Car division.
Allen Johnson won the Pro Stock division, and Steve Johnson won Pro Stock Motorcycle.