Rosberg Breaks Through
By: James Musoke on April 15, 2012 | 7:17 A.M. EST
"This is a very special moment for me." (Photo: Getty Images)
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg earned his maiden Formula One victory on Sunday, after a dominating performance at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The German led the field from pole position, gradually building a steady lead that was barely challenged by any of his rivals, and eventually claimed his victory by over 20 seconds.
"This is a very special moment for me,” Rosberg said. “The whole weekend went perfectly. My first pole position, now my first win in Formula One - it really is fantastic. But it's not only this; it's the first win for the new Silver Arrow and for this great team. That is really special for me. Thanks to everybody in the team, here in China and in our factories in Brackley and Brixworth.
“We will enjoy this success, but our feet are still on the ground. We are still not where we want to be, we are still working hard to understand the car and the tires in all conditions, and we will keep pushing to improve our race pace even further. We will see how that works out in Bahrain."
Rosberg’s win is Mercedes’s first victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was the only driver on track to hunt down the German, but a mistake on his final pit stop cost him any chances of catching the leader with only 10 laps to go. Button fought back hard and managed to finish in second place ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton who rounded out the top three.
“I had a great race!” Hamilton said. “And, although neither Jenson nor I was sadly able to win, I’m really happy that Nico took his first win today, but I’m also really pleased for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team: both Jenson and I were able to get back on the podium and score some more good points.
“It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship - but we’ve got to remain focused. I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come, and I’ll keep pushing for some better results in the future.”
Button’s pit stop woes created a titanic battle for second place, as he now had four cars in front on him because of a problem fitting in a rear wheel on his third and final stop. The Brit frantically maneuvered through the field, finally passing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel for second spot on the 50th lap. Button’s teammate Lewis Hamilton followed suit, also passing Vettel four laps later to earn him a well-deserved third place finish ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber who also passed Vettel on the final lap.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel did well to overcome a disappointing 11th place start to finish fifth, ahead of Lotus driver Romain Grojean in sixth and the Williams pair of Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado in seventh the eight place, respectively. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished ninth, with Saubers Kamui Kobayashi rounding out the top 10.
“I had no tires left at the end of the race,” Vettel said. “Sitting in the car, I was reacting with brake balance, diff, everything to try and keep the tires, but by the last few laps, I knew the only chance was trying to keep ahead of Kimi [Raikkonen]; I think he ran into the same sort of problem. We got some good points and it was a good recovery.”
Team Mercedes started the race off in style, creating a comfortable lead between them and the rest of the field until the first round of pit stop saw his teammate Michael Schumacher regrettably bow out because of a technical error. During the seven-time world champion’s stop, the crew allowed the car to leave the pit prematurely, without a properly tightened nut on his right front wheel. The German gradually slowed down as he noticed the problem, and was subsequently forced into retirement.
"First of all, congratulations to the whole team, to Mercedes-Benz and of course to Nico who achieved a perfect victory from start to finish,” Schumacher said. “He did a great job today and yesterday, and I am happy for him.
“As for my race, my right front tire got loose following my first pit stop. As I did not want to cause any bigger damage to the car, I stopped on the grass. I felt there was something wrong immediately and especially in turn three, when I put pressure on the right side of the car. Up until then I had a controlled race I'd say, keeping the others behind me and the tires together. Of course, this was an unfortunate ending to what could have been a nice race, and I feel sorry for the guys, who always work so hard and give their best.”
Hamilton's finish put him into the world championship lead after three races, ahead of Button in second and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the third spot. Webber and Vettel now sit in fourth and fifth place, respectively, with Rosberg’s win moving him up to sixth.
McLaren leads the constructor championship standings with 88 points, followed by reining champions Red Bull in second with 64 and Ferrari with 37.
The Formula One Championship now heads to the Bahrain International circuit for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.