Nico Rosberg wins 2012 Chinese GP

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1

Nico Rosberg has completed a maiden pole position–race win double by claiming victory in the Chinese Grand Prix today with a margin over 20 seconds.

For those counting at home, it’s the first win for a factory Mercedes team since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. And it’s the first win by a Rosberg since Nico’s father Keke won the inaugural FIA Australian Grand Prix in 1985.

With the two McLarens coming home in second and third it was an all Mercedes powered podium as well. Actually, it was a sloppy final pitstop for Jenson Button that handed the easy win to Rosberg. Prior to that their contrasting strategies were looked like they would provide a gripping grandstand finish.

Lewis Hamilton will be happy to have recovered from his five-place grid penalty to claim a trifecta of third place finishes to start the year. Mark Webber, likewise, has finished all three races in the fourth place for Red Bull. He managed to pass teammate Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to relegate the dual world champion back to fifth place. However, after qualifying in P11 and making a terribly slow start Vettel should be pleased with P5.

There was some great racing today and it mostly centred around tyre strategy. Webber started the trend for making early stops when he came in on lap seven. He made two more stops leaving himself, like most others, a relatively long final run to the flag.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus planned for a long run to the finish after his final stop and was running in P2 for quite some time, albeit with a long trail of cars in tow gathering behind him. He asked his last set of tyres to do 28 laps when they only cared for around 22. As Kimi’s tyres started to go off the race really livened up with great wheel to wheel action and overtaking aplenty. In the end the 2007 world champion dropped right down the field to P14.

A decision from Jean-Eric Vergne and Toro Rosso to start the race from pit lane after giving the Frenchman’s car significant updates overnight paid dividends as he finished ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Although both were well out of the points.

The shame for Mercedes AMG and their sponsors is Rosberg’s relatively untroubled race out front gave them little camera time as the director, perhaps rightly, focused on the action behind.

It wasn’t a total fairytale for Mercedes today, with a pit crew error forcing Michael Schumacher to retire after his front right wheel was not fitted correctly during his first stop. Who knows what the crafty 43-year-old may have conjured up if he had a full 56 laps to play with.

In the end, though, Mercedes will be overjoyed at registering their first win since they rejoined the F1 circus at the start of 2010.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix final placings

  1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG) 1h36:26.929
  2. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) +20.626
  3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) +26.012
  4. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) +27.924
  5. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) +30.483
  6. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) +31.491
  7. Bruno Senna (Williams-Renault) +34.597
  8. Pastor Maldonado (Williams-Renault) +35.643
  9. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) +37.256
  10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) +38.720
  11. Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) +41.066
  12. Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) +42.273
  13. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +42.700
  14. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault) +50.500
  15. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India-Mercedes) +51.200
  16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari) +51.700
  17. Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari) +1:03.100
  18. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham-Renault) +1 lap
  19. Timo Glock (Marussia-Cosworth) +1 lap
  20. Charles Pic (Marussia-Cosworth) +1 lap
  21. Pedro de la Rosa (HRT-Cosworth) +1 lap
  22. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT-Cosworth) +2 laps
  23. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham-Renault) +3 laps

Schumacher (Mercedes AMG) retired – lap 16

Fastest lap: Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari), 1:39.960

2012 World Championship (Drivers top 10) – Round 3

  1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) – 45
  2. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) – 43
  3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) – 37
  4. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) – 36
  5. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) – 28
  6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) – 25
  7. Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) – 22
  8. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) – 16
  9. Bruno Senna (Williams-Renault) – 14
  10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) – 9

2012 World Championship (Constructors) – Round 3

  1. McLaren-Mercedes – 88
  2. Red Bull Racing-Renault – 64
  3. Ferrari – 37
  4. Sauber-Ferrari – 31
  5. Mercedes AMG – 26
  6. Lotus-Renault – 24
  7. Williams-Renault – 18
  8. Force India-Mercedes – 9
  9. STR-Ferrari – 6