Nico Rosberg has won the Australian Formula One Grand Prix for the second time, the Mercedes driver emerging victorious in a dramatic race at Albert Park on Sunday punctuated by a terrifying accident for two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.
Rosberg's teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was eight seconds adrift in second place for the fifth consecutive 1-2 finish for the team dating back to last season, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel rounded out the podium.
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Alonso crashes out of Australian GP
Fernando Alonso survives a horror crash after clipping Esteban Gutierrez at turn three, temporarily bringing the Grand Prix to a halt.
Daniel Ricciardo had his best Australian Grand Prix finish in fourth for Red Bull, finishing 24 seconds behind Rosberg, but half a minute ahead of fifth-placed Felipe Massa in a Williams.
Newcomers Haas became the first team to score points on its F1 debut since Toyota in 2002 when Romain Grosjean finished sixth, while Force India's Nico Hulkenberg (seventh), Williams driver Valtteri Bottas (eighth), and Toro Rosso teammates Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen rounded out the top-10 points-paying positions.
It was an extraordinary opening to the grand prix season with, aside from the spectacular crash, pole sitter Hamilton suffering an appalling start and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari catching fire.
Vettel looked to have the race under control before the dramatic shunt between McLaren's Alonso and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez on lap 18.
Amazingly, Alonso emerged unscathed after the terrifying 250km/h-plus crash, clipping the left rear wheel of the Mexican's car and somersaulting into the nearby gravel trap.
Both drivers were able to walk away from the enormous shunt, which caused the race to be red-flagged and stopped while trackside marshals cleared up the debris.
Mercedes played a masterstroke in the pits while the race was stopped, fitting durable medium-compound tyres to Rosberg and teammate Hamilton after the pair had made poor starts, Vettel storming past both Mercedes cars on the run to the first turn and leading the race at the time of the Alonso/Gutierrez shunt.
Ferrari's tactic to fit supersoft tyres to Vettel's car in the red flag period fell flat, as the German was forced to pit a third time for fresher rubber with 22 laps remaining. He closed on Hamilton for second in the closing laps, but ran wide at the penultimate corner with two laps remaining to consign him to third place.
Vettel's teammate Raikkonen ran strongly in the early stages but was forced to retire with fire belching from the airbox of his Ferrari on lap 22 after a turbo failure.
Ricciardo's teammate Daniil Kvyat had a miserable Australian race for the second straight year, his car suffering an electrical failure on the formation lap to the grid.
The win is Rosberg's fourth in succession dating back to last year, and his 15th career victory.
In other developments on Sunday:
- The Formula One teams announced they wanted the controversial new qualifying system scrapped after one race following a backlash from every team and driver.
- The FIA also announced they had eased radio restrictions, meaning teams can make strategy calls during the race.
- Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was a handed a five-place grid penalty after an unscheduled gearbox change. The Finn started from 16th place.