Nico Rosberg achieved his first F1 career victory on this day n 2012 and gave Mercedes their first victory since 1955, the day after winning his first pole position, which marked a new, hugely successful chapter in Mercedes’ F1 history.
McLaren swept the front row in the first two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia, but in the third race of the season in China it was Mercedes’ turn with Rosberg and Schumacher, the first time since the 1955 F1 season in Italy when they occupied first three starting places with Fangio, Moss and Kling.
Mercedes attracted attention with an innovative double DRS system that, in addition to the usual rear wing moveable flap it had ducts in the rear wing endplates used to feed the duct system leading all the way to the front wing, reducing downforce and air resistance at the front, similiar to McLaren’s 2010 F-duct system. It was declared legal on the eve of Chinese GP after discussions in the first two races in Australia and Malaysia.
Rosberg drove a fantastic lap, 0.505 faster than Hamilton and won his first Formula 1 pole position, but as Hamilton received a five place grid penalty for changing gearbox, Schumacher started second and completed the first row for Mercedes.
Mercedes mechanics did not secure the wheel well on Schumacher’s car during the first stop in the lap 12 so the seven-time world champion had to retire early (the only driver to retire in this race), and Rosberg entered the pits one lap later and retained the lead comfortably.
How quickly tyres were degrading with full tanks out is evident from the fact that as many as 16 drivers had already made their first stops before Rosberg’s 13th lap change.
Rosberg had great control over tyre degradation on the track where the front tyres are the limiting factor, which was more suited to the Mercedes W03 which consumed the rear tyres more, balancing the tyre wear on their car. He won with over 20 seconds ahead of Button and Hamilton in their McLarens MP4-27s.
Mercedes was also aided by cooler conditions with a track temperature of 24 degrees Celsius and an air temperature of 22 degrees that reduced tyre wear and overheating.
Rosberg’s victory is the first victory for a German driver in a German car in Formula 1 history and the first for Mercedes since September 11 1955 at the Italian GP and this is also the first race since the 2009 Italian GP at which Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull did not win (Brawn Mercedes drivers Barrichello and Button secured 1-2 victory).
Fourth and fifth were Red Bull drivers Webber and Vettel while Grosjean in Lotus finished sixth ahead of two Williams drivers Senna and Maldonado. Alonso, after winning in rainy conditions in the last race in Malaysia, was only ninth, with Kobayashi scoring last point in Sauber, after started third behind two Mercedes drivers and setting the fastest lap of the race, the only one in his F1 career.
“This is a very special moment for me. The whole weekend went perfectly,” Rosberg said after the first of 23 Formula One victories.
“My first pole position, and now my first Formula One win, really fantastic. But not only that, this is the first win for the new silver arrows and this great team, it’s really special for me.”
“Thanks to everyone in the team, here in China and at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth, for improving the car so quickly, it makes me very proud. I will never forget this race, and for the last 20 laps it has seemed like I have been driving 24h of Le Mans!”
“But when I crossed the line it was so intense. We will enjoy this success, but we are still standing firmly on the ground. We are still not where we want to be, but we are still working hard to understand the car and tyres in all conditions and continue to push to further improve our speed in the race. We’ll see how that turns out in Bahrain. ”
This was the only victory of the season for Mercedes in which seven drivers were victorius in the first seven races, and they waited for the next victory until 2013 Monaco GP where Rosberg won from pole position.
|6||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull/Renault||1:36.290||1.169|
|5 place grid penalty due to gearbox change|
|11||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1:36.031||0.910|
|15||11||Paul Di Resta||Force India/Mercedes||1:36.317||1.196|
|16||12||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:36.745||1.624|
|17||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:36.956||1.835|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT/Cosworth||1:40.411||5.290|
|24||17||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:37.714||2.593|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull/Renault||56||1:36:54.853||27.924|
|5||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||56||1:36:57.412||30.483|
|12||11||Paul Di Resta||Force India/Mercedes||56||1:37:09.202||42.273|
|15||12||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||56||1:37:18.142||51.213|
|16||17||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||56||1:37:18.685||51.756|
|17||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||56||1:37:30.085||1:03.156|
|18||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham/Renault||55||1:36:30.554||1 lap|
|19||24||Timo Glock||Marussia/Cosworth||55||1:37:20.154||1 lap|
|20||25||Charles Pic||Marussia/Cosworth||55||1:37:20.552||1 lap|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT/Cosworth||55||1:38:03.223||1 lap|
Fastest lap: Kamui Kobayashi – 1:39.960 (lap 40)
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 3/20 RACES
|12||Paul Di Resta||7||1||6||–|
|23||Pedro de la Rosa||0||–||–||–|