Nico Rosberg’s first win was always likely to be at the Chinese GP. The young German has led the race in Shanghai in recent years, only to fail to take the win. He showed that he had something extra in qualifying, where his fastest lap was half a second faster than the next man. Yesterday, he sealed the deal, and claimed his maiden win with a margin of 20.6 seconds!
Nico’s commanding Shanghai triumph is also Mercedes-Benz’ first as a works team since Fangio won the 1955 Italian GP, so it’s double joy for the team, which of course is sponsored by Petronas. Lots of screen time for the national oil company as a result.
McLaren’s two ex-world champs Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton completed the podium, while Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Seb Vettel had to settle for fourth and fifth. The other team with two cars in the points were Williams – Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado finished seventh and eight, respectively. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean will be extremely happy with his sixth place, since he had completed all of five race laps before Shanghai.
The final two points paying positions were taken by Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari and Kamui Kobayashi in the Ferrari-powered Sauber. The kamikaze Japanese driver made a brave late move on teammate and Sepang hero Sergio Perez for the final point.
Mercedes AMG Petronas’ other driver didn’t have a good race. Living legend Michael Schumacher started alongside Rosberg on the front row after Hamilton took a grid penalty, but the team botched Schumi’s first pit stop. His rear wheel was incorrectly fitted, and he was the only man to DNF in China. The team were also fined €5,000 for the unsafe release.
It was a race dominated by tyre strategy, but Rosberg proved that Mercedes has resolved its rubber eating issues – a simple two-stop strategy and good pace kept him way ahead of the crazy battles behind.
Further back, Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov finished ahead of the rookie team drivers in 18th. Heikki Kovalainen was classified as last. Looks like Caterham is still nowhere near the midfield as targeted – while they’ve improved, so have others.