Kevin Magnussen was voted as Driver of the Weekend after claiming a second place in his first grand prix.
A lap in the rain good enough for fourth on the grid and a strong drive coupled with Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification, gave Magnussen the highest finishing position for a first-timer since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.
Valtteri Bottas’s charge through the field was enough to be voted second, while the unfortunate Ricciardo was third in the polle. Nico Rosberg, who scored a dominant victory, did not feature in the top three, taking 4.7% of the vote.
1. Kevin Magnussen – 48.38%
Magnussen impressed from the moment he first set foot in the car during winter testing, and carried the form through to Melbourne. He mastered challenging conditions in a rain-hit Q3 to claim fourth on the grid which even drew praise from team mate Jenson Button.
But as Magnussen pulled away from the grid it briefly looked like he might throw it all away. His slewed alarmingly to the right in front of Fernando Alonso, but the McLaren driver regained his composure without losing any positions.
Further around the opening lap he picked off Lewis Hamilton’s troubled Mercedes and thereafter drove a solid race. He closed on Ricciardo in the final laps but was unable to get a run at the Red Bull.
I voted for Kevin Magnussen. He kept his nerves and beat his very experienced team mate in tricky wet qualifying in a difficult track. On Sunday, he drove calm and controlled race without mistakes and fully deserved a spot on podium. It is more impressive considering his age and that it was his first race ever in Formula 1.
Life as a rookie is very, very hard these days, since testing has been restricted. And to out-race and -qualify a driver, who is a world champion and has many many years of experience, on his FIRST race weekend, is simply astonishing. Magnussen put together a brilliant drive and has shown more maturity than a few more experienced F1 drivers.
The only time this weekend that he looked like a rookie was when he caught massive wheelspin at the start, but he caught it and continued with a cool head and pushed Ricciardo hard.
As well as having the nerve to pull a move on the outside of Hamilton, although the latter was down on power it was still a brave and well executed move.
And do I need to mention his qualifying performance? I think not.
2. Valtteri Bottas – 24.49%
Bottas was the undisputed overtaking star of the race having fought his way through the field twice to take fifth place. Despite being strong in testing the Williams showed a lack of pace in the wet and Bottas had to settle for tenth in qualifying – that later became fifteenth on the grid due to a gearbox change.
A strong getaway nearly got him into trouble at turn one – he had to steer clear of the collision between his team mate and Kamui Kobayashi – but placed him in the points at the end of the first lap.
He made some impressive overtakes – around the outside of Jean-Eric Vergne at turn three and then up the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at the same corner a few laps later – but threw away his hard-won advantage by clipping the wall on lap ten and damaged a wheel.
Following a trip to the pits for repairs Bottas returned to the track and continued where he left off. The Safety Car helped him close to the back of the pack and he then picked off driver after driver on his way to fifth, with the second fastest lap of the race.
Has to be Bottas, inspired drive including the mistakes, which makes a good driver great. Picked himself up after the penalty, and again after kissing the concrete, which because he was the only person to actually race anyone, makes him man of the match.
The Bear! (@Justgassing)
I voted for Bottas because his mistake probably came from consistently pushing to the edge of adhesion. I have to forgive him after witnessing similar mistakes from previous world champions. He may not have driven the perfect race but it was the most entertaining especially with that eye candy livery!
3. Daniel Ricciardo – 14.05%
Few expected Ricciardo to put in the performance he did in Australia – especially compared to his four-time champion team mate.
While Vettel battled reliability issues however Ricciardo showed that Red Bull aren’t as far off as originally thought – performing superbly in qualifying by not finishing out of the top two in any session – and eventually claiming his first front row start in second.
A lacklustre getaway allowed Rosberg to steam through but Ricciardo held his own with a brave move on the inside of Hamilton into turn one. From then on Ricciardo drove solidly – fending off late pressure from Magnussen – to cross the line as best of the rest behind Rosberg, only to later be disqualified for a technical infringement.
He didn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend in a car that is visibly slower in a straight line.
Managed to bang it onto the front row in a very tricky qualifying session, on what was arguably a slower tyre for the conditions.
And then in the race managed to fend off a hard charging Young Kevvy Magnussen for 2nd place in his home race.
2014 Australian Grand Prix
Images © McLaren/LAT, Williams/LAT, Red Bull/Getty