Australian Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull comes second.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull comes second. Photo: Joe Armao

If ever there was a tale of two cities, it has often been March in Melbourne. Born in Kennett-era acrimony, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park has long been blighted by the choices made and sides chosen 18 years ago, when a six-year-old called Daniel Ricciardo was frolicking in a summery Perth backyard.

If this talented young man has many more days like Sunday's first start for Red Bull Racing it may then become harder for the sport's unconvinced and uncommitted to argue that motor sport does not deserve its one week in the sunshine on the Melbourne sporting calendar.

For even as the March in March crowds at the other end of the city proclaimed the need for reductions in carbon pollution, at Albert Park the formula one zealots came in their droves to welcome what their sport believes is a greener - if quieter - new era.

Ricciardo did his part.

Starting from second on the grid, giving up two places in the instant the lights went out and then recovering at the first corner to trail only eventual winner Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes, Ricciardo held his nerve and had the kind of day the last Australian in the Red Bull hot seat could only dream about.

However Ricciardo’s finish was under a cloud last night after his Red Bull car was found to have exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow.

The FIA’s technical delegate Jo Bauer referred the matter to the race stewards in Melbourne who must now decide whether to take action. There were  stern pre-race warnings from the sport’s governing body for anyone breaking the new law.

Ricciardo’s podium finish was the first of his career.

Indeed in this tale of two drivers, it's hard not to feel for Webber, who could only dream of grands prix where his former teammate, and ultimate nemesis, Sebastian Vettel, fell over. Let alone his 12 years of struggling for a podium in Melbourne.

After finishing last year with nine straight victories, a clearly frustrated Vettel started 12th on the grid and was retired by lap five.

For Red Bull it was certainly the best of times and the worst of times, as Ricciardo kept pace with Rosberg, having seen the other Mercedes of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton pull out with an engine problem on lap four.

Ricciardo's car itself struggled in the final 10 laps as the well-documented issues with the new V6 turbo engines that plagued Red Bull in testing kept Australian hearts in mouth right to the line.

Red Bull's dominance in recent years had contributed to the FIA's move to leaner, greener engines and teams will continue to struggle for reliability as they work to refine the technology and find extra speed.

On his team radio as he returned to take a place on the podium for the first time in his formula one career, Ricciardo - as ever - was honest and forthright.

''Thanks guys," he said. ''It's all a bit of a blur right now, it's really cool."

As the shadows lengthened and the scale of the young West Australian's achievement became apparent, suddenly Melbourne didn't feel like two cities any more.