Rosberg wins Chinese GP
SHANGHAI MERCEDES driver Nico Rosberg won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday for his first career Formula One victory, gambling on a two-stop strategy and managing to hold off the rest of the field on worn tires.
Rosberg, who also captured his first pole on Saturday, finished 20.6 seconds ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said the 26-year-old German, who was competing in his 111th F1 race. “It’s been a long time coming for me, and for the team as well over the past two years and a bit.
Now it’s finally here. “It’s just nice to see how quickly we are now progressing. I didn’t expect to be that fast today.” Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was third, followed by the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in fourth and fifth. Vettel started 11th on the grid and at one stage moved up to second, but the two-time defending world champion couldn’t hold off Button, Hamilton and Webber in the closing stages.
Rosberg’s teammate, seventime world champion Michael Schumacher, had also been expecting to perform well after finishing third in qualifying and moving up to the front row when Hamilton, who qualified second, was penalized for a gearbox change. But the German retired on the 13th lap after his right front wheel was improperly fitted during his first pit stop.
For Mercedes, the victory is evidence it has remedied the quick tire degradation problem that led to disappointing results in the first two races of the year. Rosberg and Schumacher have been fast in qualifying this season but failed to keep up with other teams when it mattered in the races.
It was Mercedes’ first Formula One victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.
Mercedes pulled out of F1 shortly after that victory and didn’t return as a contructor until it bought out Brawn GP at the end of 2009.
Mercedes is also the third different team to win a race this year, following Button’s victory at the Australian GP for McLaren and Fernando Alonso’s win at the Malaysian GP for Ferrari. The 2011 constructor’s champion, Red Bull, is still looking for its first win.
Rosberg drove just one lap in the final session of qualifying to preserve his tires, and said an improved setup helped take the pressure off his tires on Sunday to allow his team’s strategy to pay off.
“Before the race, that was our plan,” he said. “The tires lasted for exactly the amount of laps that we were hoping for, so it all just went to plan.” Rosberg also benefited from a sloppy pit stop by Button at the end of the 39th lap when he lost several crucial seconds and came out of the pit behind a pack of drivers.