Rosberg wins first F1 race in China
15 April 2012 – Nico Rosberg is celebrating his maiden Formula 1 victory, having won Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in dominant fashion. After starting from pole, the son of 1982 World Champion Keke was aided by a pit-stop problem for Jenson Button as Lewis Hamilton finished third to lead the Drivers’ Championship.
In one of the most dramatic races the sport has witnessed for some time, Rosberg led commandingly from pole as his lead extended to 25 seconds thanks to an efficient strategy and a number of scenarios behind him. The 26-year-old, who made his debut with Williams in 2006, becomes the seventh German to win in F1 history and also marks a significant milestone for Mercedes, which returned as a works team two years ago. The company last won with Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1955.
A clean start allowed Rosberg to lead without issues, as Michael Schumacher held second but began to lose pace and drop into the clutches of Button, whose own stunning start saw him seize third place on the outside of Turn 1. Further back, Bruno Senna tapped the back of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and broke a front wing end plate on his Williams. From 11th on the grid, a frustrating afternoon for World Champion Sebastian Vettel began with a plummet to 15th.
Prior to Lap 39, Button led Rosberg for five laps, with the Englishman and German on respective three and two-stop strategies. The McLaren driver would be required to pit and then catch the Mercedes, but a sticking left-rear wheel lost him at least six seconds and dropped the 2009 title winner into the chasing pack; McLaren’s second pit-stop mistake in as many races allowed Rosberg to extend a massive lead and he was then able to control the pace.
Unlike team-mate Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean pitted later and preserved his tyres well; escaping from an off-track excursion at Turn 6, the Franco-Swiss registered not just his first finish of the season, but a career-best with sixth place. Bruno Senna delivered another highly respectable performance to come home seventh, with Pastor Maldonado confirming a superb day for Williams in eighth spot.
A dramatic start to the 2012 season has now brought Formula 1 its 103rd different race winner, as Rosberg slowed in the closing stages but still won by 20 seconds. There is now a McLaren one-two in the drivers’ table, with Hamilton leading Button by just two points after yet another third place finish. For Constructors’ honours, McLaren extends its lead over Red Bull to 24 points as F1 prepares to return to Bahrain.
Formula 1 continues with the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend