Nico Rosberg has tempered the delight at taking victory in the opening round of the 2014 F1 world championship by noting that Mercedes still has a lot of work to do to ensure it is in a position to repeat in future races.
The German cruised to a 24.5secs victory over Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in the 57-lap season-opener but, with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton being forced to retire after only three laps, the spectre of unreliability remains over even the pre-season favourite.
Rosberg had got the better of Hamilton by the time the Briton was forced back into the pits – indeed, he was leading by turn one – and suffered none of the problems seen on the #44 car, which was reported to have lost one of the cylinders in its new V6 engine. However, with issues still blighting the W05 late in pre-season testing, and Hamilton also grinding to a halt without a lap on the board in Friday's first practice session, Rosberg is all to aware that the team cannot afford to rest on its laurels.
“I'm not sure what happened to the other car but, for sure, it's a fact that we are not 100 per cent sorted yet,” he confirmed, “The team did a great job to get my car working well in the race, but there's still work to be done. We have two weeks now [before the Malaysian GP], and we need to identify all the things we can still do better because, even leading up to this weekend, there were a lot of changes on the car and you don't really want to be doing that going to the first race.
“I don't know if [the two-week gap] is an advantage or disadvantage but, for sure, we're going to use it well. It's time to work on the car, make it quicker and more reliable, so it's a very useful gap between the first two races.”
Rosberg's race, reliability aside, was made on the run to the first corner, where he speared between the front row pairing of Hamilton and Ricciardo. From there, apart from a small tyre issue on his second stint, there were few things for the German to worry about as he took his fourth career victory.
“The start was just off like a bullet - or off like a silver arrow,” he grinned, “After that, the car was just really, really quick - the whole team did such good job on it.
“I had a really good engine, and not much problem with fuel consumption. I didn't have to worry much about that, [it was] pretty much as usual. All went perfectly, reliability was great, so it's fantastic. I'm so happy for everybody – they've worked so damn hard and this is the best reward possible, to dominate in such a way in the first race.”
While fuel saving was expected to be a major concern for the teams, particularly in Melbourne, it was the tyre that caught more of Rosberg's attention.
“[Fuel saving] isn't much different to last year really and, with this being the most difficult track, it was quite impressive.
“I got into a strange situation in the middle stint because I got graining on the front [tyres] and was losing temperature, so it got a little difficult out there. I thought I was going to have to come in, but [the team] told me to hang in there, try and stay out, try and stay out, so I did. The graining cleared on the tyre and I was off again. It was strange, but it was fine again after that.”
Asked how it felt to be leading the championship, albeit after just one race, Rosberg shrugged, insisting that he would rather contemplate his race win and not look too far ahead.
“I don't think about [leading the championship],” he claimed, “I'm really just in the moment - I had an unbelievably quick car today, and that gives me such pleasure to drive. It's such a great feeling and I'm really looking forward to the next races because it's so fast.
“I was very optimistic for the race today because we'd prepared really well for it and I was confident we could do well. From the word go, from the start, it all went fantastically.
“It's still going to be tough, reliability is still not great, so there's a lot of work ahead of us, but it's a great start, I'm excited about the result today.”