Rosberg Storms To First Race Win In China

The race began with everyone saying they couldn’t do it, and ended in joy and relief for driver and team. Nico Rosberg got his maiden Grand Prix victory on a day where the German driver always looked likely to win. He got away from the grid cleanly, kept his position and while he temporarily lost the lead whilst pitting and faced a decent challenge from Jenson Button, he put in the laps which ensured a victory.

Rosberg was ecstatic to finally get his first race win after 111 GP starts:

“[It is an] unbelievable feeling. [I am] very cool, very happy and very excited,” said Rosberg. “It’s been a long time coming for me and the team. We didn’t expect to be that fast today. We knew we had good chance to be in the front but we didn’t expect to be that fast.

“Thanks to the whole team for working very hard also, and for improving the set-up. I was struggling in the first two races with race pace but here it came good.”

Schumacher failed to finish for the second time this season

His team-mate Michael Schumacher would have been a good shout for the podium had he not encountered trouble after a pit-stop which saw him retire from the race on lap 15. He was calm following the incident, which leaves him on just one world championship point following the opening three races:

I noticed in Turn 3 that something was wrong with the front right tyre. “Already by Turn 6 there was quite a bit of smoke and damage and I thought it was better to stop before I did some serious damage to the car. I don’t have any hard feelings. I feel a bit sorry for one of my boys that I guess he feels responsible, but it’s part of the game.

We were looking strong. We told you guys that we were having too much wear in Australia and we were not having enough wear in Malaysia, so there must have been a middle way. It looks like we found the way.”

The Mercedes cars did fare much better with its tyres in China. The issue of the car eating into its tyres too much had seen them fall down the order at the previous two races. The car needs cooler temperatures for the tyres to work to their optimum, and that is what it got on a cloudy afternoon in Shanghai. It remains to be seen whether the team truly have come to a solution as the sport heads to its next event in Bahrain next weekend, where high temperatures are very likely.

Haug was relieved his Mercedes team had finally recorded a race victory

Boss of Mercedes Norbert Haug said that Rosberg’s win was up there with his best moments as boss of Mercedes-Benz motorsport programme:

“This was one of the very, very good ones,” explained Haug. “We have had David’s [Coulthard] first in 1997. That was certainly a landmark as well, as we painted the car silver and won the first race. We had a splendid Indianapolis in 1994 too.

“We have had quite a few victories together with McLaren and Brawn GP, but this is certainly a very important one for us – especially in this country and because there was so much hard work behind it.”

Questions were being asked of the team which returned in 2010 intent on winning from the outset, but Haug said that it was no problem to wait until the third year of the team’s return:

“I don’t think it is that long if you look in the history books,” he said. “Winning in the third year is not something that lots of teams are achieving. I would not have had something against wins in the first year that is for sure, but whatever we have now I am happy with.”

McLaren now lead the Constructor's Championship

McLaren were another team which had a very productive day, with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton finishing in second and third positions respectively. Button was pleased to finish in second, but also felt his costly final pit stop lost him the chance to go for the win:

“It was a great race,” he said. “We went for a three-stop strategy which was different. It was really good fun even with the problem we had, but I am happy to come home second, it was a good fight and most of it very clean, which is good to see. When you are in front on the first few laps and the you drop into traffic… I knew we had traffic and I was picking them off nicely, but after the last pitstop it became more difficult.

I came to the marks [in the pits], but we had a problem at the rear of the car so I sat there for nine or 10 seconds, I think it was. It was a pity because when I exited the pits I had four cars in front of me,” said Button. “[They were] cars that I wouldn’t have been racing and I would have had a nice clear track to hopefully hunt down Nico.

“It was a big gap but you have to give it a go. All in all it was a fun day, a good race, good overtaking out there and nice with that issue to come away with some good points for second place.”

Hamilton satisfied to collect another third-place trophy

Lewis Hamilton was another man convinced he could have gone for win if everything had been straight-forward. In his case, the gearbox change which caused him to start the race five places lower was one that he says deprived him of a chance to win:

“I am sure we’d have given Nico a run for his money but the traffic we had and the amount of pitstops was incredible,” said Hamilton. But I’m still happy and we need to keep pushing to get some better results in the future.”

He had said recently that his goal for the season is to consistently score podiums, which he is so far doing, finishing on the podium in all three of the races. It isn something that helped his championship aims in 2007, when he recorded eight podium finishes in the first eight races before taking his first win at race nine in Canada. He is also sure that the field is close, with Mercedes and others fighting in a tight bunch:

“It’s definitely a positive to add the consistency which I want and I think if we keep on working like we have then the wins will come,” said Hamilton. We have to keep on moving forward and obviously Mercedes has taken a step forward and the other guys are just as quick as us, the Red Bulls are just about there and the Ferrari was quick at one stage and also the Saubers.

“So it is providing some great racing for the fans and I hope they are enjoying it as much as we are.”

Webber fights with Hamilton

Mark Webber finished in fourth position, the Aussie intent that there is plenty of time for his Red Bull team to improve in a car which performs better in races than in qualifying:

“You needed a bit of experience today, it was a very, very close grand prix but congratulations to Nico. It was different strategies playing against each other – utter chaos. The difference between fourth and fifth is not massive between team-mates, it was just a few more points that was all. We’ve finished close to McLaren in all three races but there’s a long way to go.”

Vettel lost places at the start of the race

His stable-mate Sebastian Vettel was pleased to finish fifth, on tyres which cost him a place to Webber in the final laps:

It was getting more and more difficult,” Vettel admitted. “I had nothing left in the tyres. I knew that the only chance was trying to escape from Kimi [Raikkonen]. I think he ran into the same kind of problem. ”

The tyres were a big factor as his lost grip at the end but was satisified to finish fifth considering a slow start had dropped him to fifteenth:

“You try to get them [the tyres] back to life, get a little bit more out of them, but they were pretty dead. I tried to react with brake balance, diff, everything I had, but there was nothing I could have done.

“A shame because the podium was so close and yet so far. Nevertheless, good points and a good recovery from 15th.”

Raikkonen's team-mate Grosjean can be pleased to get to the finish

Romain Grosjean finished a race for the first time this year and did so in sixth place, commenting that it had been a hectic race:

“It was pretty good, I am very pleased for myself and the team. It looked like Formula Three at times but it was tough out there.”

Alonso scored two points in eighth, while Massa yet again finished behind his team-mate in thirteenth

Fernando Alonso was a realist following his eighth place finish, but thought he could have been in a higher position if he had time in clear air:

This is probably a most realistic position than what we saw in Australia or Malaysia especially,” Alonso told reporters. “But I’m convinced that in a race without traffic or with some clean air in front the car would have been quicker than it was, because we couldn’t do a single free lap.

“So I think we are a little bit further up, or I want to believe that we would have finished ahead of Williams and Grosjean without too many difficulties.”

 

Pos Driver Team Time
 1.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   1h36:26.929
 2.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +    20.626
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +    26.012
 4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    27.924
 5.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +    30.483
 6.  Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +    31.491
 7.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +    34.597
 8.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +    35.643
 9.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    37.256
10.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +    38.720
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +    41.066
12.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +    42.273
13.  Massa         Ferrari                    +    42.700
14.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +    50.500
15.  Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes       +    51.200
16.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    51.700
17.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:03.100
18.  Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap
19.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +     1 lap
20.  Pic           Marussia-Cosworth          +     1 lap
21.  De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth               +     1 lap
22.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +    2 laps
23.  Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +    3 laps

Not classified/retirements:

Driver Team Lap
Schumacher    Mercedes                     16
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