Rosberg races to emphatic first win in China

2012 Chinese Grand Prix review

Posted on

| Written by

Nico Rosberg scored an emphatic maiden win in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver finished more than 20 seconds ahead of Jenson Button.

The pair ran different strategies during the race but a slow pit stop for Button tipped the race in Rosberg’s favour.

Behind him the McLaren drivers came out on top of a fierce scrap for the final two podium positions.

Rosberg romps away

Rosberg made an immaculate start, showing a clean pair of heels to Michael Schumacher who held onto second.

While Kamui Kobayashi went backwards from third place, Button came through from fifth to take up the running behind the Mercedes drivers, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton dived past Kobayashi at turn six and Sergio Perez took the opportunity to demote his team mate as well.

Mark Webber slipped back at the start and was passed by Fernando Alonso. By the end of the lap they had already passed and re-passed each other again, leaving Webber tenth.

Rosberg made his escape in the opening laps, pulling out a lead of almost three seconds over his team mate. Schumacher’s slower pace did not seem to be a case of Mercedes tactics to give Rosberg a bigger lead – behind him, Button was struggling to get within range to use DRS against the Mercedes.

Webber pits early

Webber made an early pit stop at this time, in an attempt to recover some of the places he lost at the start. He switched to the medium tyres and fell to 20th place, but was immediately the quickest driver on the track.

What’s more, even as he got stuck into passing the battling Vitaly Petrov and Jean-Eric Vergne, he was still able to match Rosberg’s pace and take time out of the cars he had been racing.

That forced several others to pit to keep Webber behind. Hamilton followed Raikkonen in on lap 11, and led him out of the pits after speedy work by the McLaren pit crew. It also kept him ahead of Webber, who passed Raikkonen as they rejoined the track.

Button and Grosjean came in the next time by – the McLaren driver asking for more front wing on his first visit.

Schumacher out early

Schumacher pitted from second on lap 13 but as he pulled out of the pit box a mechanic on his right-front wheel was signalling furiously for the car to be held. The wheel hadn’t been fixed properly, and Schumacher came to a halt shortly after rejoining the track.

While one Mercedes was stopping for good, the other came to a temporary halt – Rosberg made his first pit stop, handing the lead to Perez. Mercedes had suffered heavy tyre degradation on Friday so they inspected Rosberg’s tyres closely after his first pit stop, and told him one of his rears had been close to wearing out.

Perez’s pit stop did not go to plan – he crept away slowly and lost places to Kobayashi and Grosjean.

This briefly handed the lead to Massa but Rosberg caught him before the end of the lap and, with DRS open, motored past easily on the back straight to resume the lead.

The McLaren drivers took up second and third places, Button 4.7 seconds behind the leader with a 1.7s margin over his team mate. But not for long: fourth-placed Webber made for the pits on lap 22, and Hamilton and Button followed in the next laps.

Button reels in Rosberg

This second round of stops left them with more passing work to do. Button quickly picked off Pastor Maldonado and Perez using DRS.

Hamilton was more circumspect in his attempts to pass Massa – perhaps wisely given their altercations last year. He thought better of a move at turn one, and waited until the hairpin turn six before squeezing down the inside of the Ferrari.

Button was able to quickly pass cars on the straight and still gain time on Rosberg, reducing his advantage from 21.8s to 20.2. But Hamilton lost time behind Perez, and the gap between him and Button grew to 5.7s.

Once he hit clear air, Button took huge chunks out of Rosberg’s lead – as much as two seconds on lap 34, cutting the gap between them to 12.3 seconds. That finally pressed Rosberg into making his second pit stop, although his team noted his left-rear tyre still had some life left in it – an encouraging sign which was quickly relayed to him.

Pit problem spoils Button’s charge

The battle for the lead had echoes of last year’s contest between Hamilton and Vettel. Button needed to make a third pit stop which would drop him behind Rosberg – but with a faster car for the final stint that could allow him to make a pass for the lead.

However Button’s third pit stop on lap 40 dealt a blow that cost him a shot at victory. The left-rear wheel was slow to go on, and while McLaren avoided Mercedes’ mistake of sending the car out too soon, it cost him precious time.

Worse, it left Button mired in the middle of a string of cars disputing second place. He took up fifth behind Massa, Raikkonen and Vettel, with Grosjean, Webber and Senna behind him.

“There’s still plenty of points to play for,” Button’s race engineer reminded him. “We need to overtake at least Vettel, the rest will probably pit.”

Raikkonen hits trouble

Massa duly came in shortly afterwards but Raikkonen tried to hang on to his tyres. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off: the returning world champion learning the hard way that there’s only so long a worn set of Pirellis can be persuaded to cling to the tarmac.

Vettel and Button made it past the increasingly lairy Lotus. But Webber – who had already had a dramatic moment at turn 13, taking to the air on the run-off – ran wide at turn eight. That allowed Hamilton past, and he went on to take Raikkonen at the hairpin.

Raikkonen continued to go backwards, Grosjean and Alonso were the next to demote him. Grosjean then took sixth place off the Williams of Bruno Senna.

Rosberg wins – Hamilton leads the championship

With five laps to go, Button was within range of Vettel and made a tentative – but successful – move at the hairpin to take second place. Two laps later Hamilton claimed the final podium place off the Red Bull.

“We had absolutely no straight line speed the whole race,” fumed Vettel afterwards. But his team mate seemed to – Webber took fourth place after attacking Vettel at the hairpin and getting a quicker run out of the corner into turn 16.

Button set his fastest lap on the final tour but it was far too late to do anything about Rosberg, who duly took his first F1 win having led most of the way.

Hamilton claimed his third consecutive third place and with it took the lead of the drivers’ championship, by a scant two points over his team mate.

Grosjean scored his first F1 points with sixth behind the Red Bulls. Senna was seventh, despite having damaged his front wing on the rear of Massa’s car at the first corner.

The other Williams of Pastor Maldonado claimed eighth. Alonso came in ninth after losing time by running off the circuit trying to pass Maldonado on the outside of turn seven – one of several drivers to get caught out by marbles and dirt off the racing line.

Kobayashi claimed the final point – and the race’s fastest lap – ahead of team mate Perez. Paul di Resta struggled for grip in his Force India and was 12th.

Behind him were Massa and Raikkonen, whose tyre gamble saw him slip from second to 14th. Hulkenberg was 15th ahead of the Toro Rossos and Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham.

With both Marussias and HRTs finishing ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, Schumacher was the only driver who didn’t finish.

It was a race of contrasting fortunes for Mercedes. But having unlocked the performance of their W03 this early in the season, Schumacher must be optimistic about the races ahead.

Today, however, was all about his team mate. After 111 attempts Nico Rosberg claimed his first F1 win, and followed in the footsteps of his father Keke, becoming the third son of a Grand Prix winner to claim a victory himself.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Chinese Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

87 comments on “Rosberg races to emphatic first win in China”

  1. Fantastic win for Rosberg, and a great race. It was real shame when Schumacher retired, it would have been interesting to see if he could have gotten onto the podium. I was also disappointed with Sauber, however maybe everyone was just expecting too much from them to win or get another podium in the dry. They said they needed to work on their qualifying pace, now they need to improve their race pace.

    I have to say though, I’ve never felt confused whilst watching a GP until today. Sometimes it felt as if I was watching the first Formula One race on an oval. The field was incredibly close, and there was always packs of cars battling for position. It took me a while to figure out who had pitted twice, and who had pitted three times, which was the main reason for my confusion. Maybe it’s just me however.

    1. You’re not alone. At one point I also wondered and needed to check the rolling positions on bottom of the screen.

      It was quite hard to keep up with the race. Partly because of teh strategies, and partly because it was 4 AM and these early morning races are killing me slowly…

    2. Very much like last year’s race. Complete confusion about who was where.

    3. Maybe a laptop with live timing helps? I had fun in the first 2/3 of the race analyzing the data and strategies while watching.

      1. Certainly did for me – I had the live timing and the BBC’s driver tracker going, which were far more informative than the BBC commentators were being at that stage. That Rosberg was going for a two stop and that Button would be gunning for the win very quickly became crystal clear from the live timing.

    4. You are not the only one. I too found it a bit confusing at times during the race. But it made it all the more interesting cos you just weren’t sure who would end up at the podium with Nico.
      On the other hand, looking at Nico’s pic above, one may ask what’s with these Germans and the finger?

      1. i guees its easier then pointing a foot in the air…

      2. If anybody is allowed to signal number 1 it’d have to be Nico. Followed up his 1st P1 in qualifying with his 1st P1 in a race on his 111th race start. If only he’d done it with a 1 stop strategy…

  2. It was amaizing how quickly it turned out to the worst for Kimi! He was hanging on, and suddenly, he was fighting the car to stay on track, almost letting all by!

    Mad race from that point on. And good to see plenty of action away from the DRS zone.

    1. Presumably inexperience with just how this tyres go off.

      1. ‘these’ tyres

    2. Worn tires and marbles = you need to go off line just ONCE. Kimi defended the inside of T6 against Vettel, got his tires slightly dirty, got a bad exit, ran wide at the next turn and that was it. Even without the understeer at T7 (where Alonso and Grosjean also went wide) I think the train would’ve passed him.

      1. Most seem to be forgetting something. KIMI’s Lotus was stuck behind Massa’s Ferrari, for a loooooong time. Grosjean, meanwhile, had a clearer track ahead of him, which explains why he was so close to Raikkonen towards the last few laps.
        Something that I’ve noticed this season is that, the car that follows a Ferrari very close behind for more than 10 laps, seems to develop dramatic handling and tire-wear issues, than while stuck behind another car. It HAS to do with the way the exhaust works in Ferrari – blowing too much hot air over the pursuing car’s tires!! And poor Kimi paid the price for a dismal pitstop strategy and a dangerously far**ing Ferrari ;-)

        1. Something that I’ve noticed this season is that, the car that follows a Ferrari very close behind for more than 10 laps

          I don’t think so. This season had only two races before this one, and on those two races there was no car stuck behind a Ferrari for 10 laps. It is easy to overtake a Ferrari these days :).

          1. @caci99

            This season had only two races before this one, and on those two races there was no car stuck behind a Ferrari for 10 laps.

            Maldonado & Perez

  3. A great race congrats to Rosberg and Mercedes.
    Mclaren denied both their drivers an opportunity to challenge for the win with Button’s case more visible with the slow pitstop, while for Hamilton it was a case of being released into more and more traffic.

    Good to see the Williams cars cocnsistently scoring points. They may not challenge for wins but they are maintaining thier position in the mid field.

    RBR came real close to out scoring Mclaren but for that dreaded traffic. It seemed at some point there was an invisible barrier prevent cars between 2nd and 14th from going any faster.

    Even I’n no great fan of Kimi one had to feel sorry for how he went from 2nd to 10th in about 6 or 7 corners.

    Sauber were not so kind on their tyres today. They were lucky to salvage a point.

    As for Schumacher, although he started second, the way the race panned out, he may well have ended up 6th or 7th.

    1. Well put, although I dont think Mclaren cost their drivers a chance of a win. Bad pitstops happen, it could have been worse (see Schumacher) and everyone seemed to be released into some kind of pack of cars, whether it was Red Bull, Mclaren or Ferrari. The only guy who got luck in that respect won the race.

    2. Cars were riding at very similar speeds, it was like an Indy race. I don’t think it was easy to pit him (HAM) with the chance of being released in a clean air situation.

    3. Nigelstash (@)
      15th April 2012, 19:07

      He gained a place in his first stop

    4. was very interesting with all those close cars so close together…. it effectively made a DRS train, with every driver in front of the other being able to use DRS because of the close gaps. the DRS effect completely nullified

      combine that with the very dirty track off the racing line, for that period of the race the DRS straight wasnt the place most of the overtaking was happening

  4. A very entertaining race atleast toward the end. Felt bad for the iceman, 2nd to 14th in 2 laps! What a disaster. I think the saubers are looking mighty strong too.

    1. I thought it was a particularly disappointing race for the Saubers. Just one point after starting 3rd and 7th. Straight line speed and tyre preservation didn’t help them.

    2. I had to laugh when i saw Raikkonen back-paddling. Not that it was really funny, but you wonder how an experimented team could let that happen…
      It felt like Bourdais in Spa: You think he’ll get second place and looses places after places with old tyres.

      1. I’m sure KR and his crew were gambling because an extra pit would have cost him a bunch of spots too, and had he not gone wide and dirtied his already well-used tires, he might still have gotten a pretty respectable finishing spot in spite of the tires. I think as soon as he went wide and no doubt picked up marbles on his tires it was all over, but he was only there to begin with because they decided (whether is was before or during the race) not to pit him that one more time and try to stretch the tires out.

  5. Hamilton may have the championship lead, but a season of 20 3rd places still wouldn’t gurantee him another title (which I hope he, Webber or Rosberg gets). However with the season being this close it may be possible if drivers keep taking points off each other. I think Button is looking strongest for this year so far, despite Malaysia.

    1. Well it could be, in 2010 Vettel won the title with 256 points. And seeing as no car or team seems likely to emerge as completely dominant as the Red Bull last year, it would easily win the title.

    2. Unlike previous races, Hamilton started from 4th row and did a fine job. He’s being “too” cautious lately and I’m yet to understand whether that’s good or bad, but currently I’m inclined to say he’s right on not taking unnecessary risks so early in the season.

      However, Australia he was beaten into turn 1 and then SC “robbed” him P2, then in Malaysia to pit errors in the middle of a crazy race didn’t help him either. If he keeps grabbing poles he will win races in a “normal Sunday”.

      1. Bahrain has the potential to be very good for Hamilton & Button… thus McLaren too obviously.

        1. Whitmarsh said its not a good track for them

  6. I am somewhat suprised that there wasnt more retirements today, with every squabbling over places and some intense action going on, I thought that we would have seen more carbonfibre flying around the place, yet it was only Bruno Senna on the opening laps that I remember seeing it.

    So fair play to the drivers, the fought well and it was as clean as we can expect. Great stuff.

    Poor Bahrain, can it possibly live up to the past 3 races?

    1. Can’t possibly be worse than past races there. I’m hopefull. We’ve not had a chance to see how the Pirreli’s go there yet.

    2. I agree – what a display of clean hard driving from everyone. Thought for sure Maldonado would go off the road near the end but credit to him for his great battle with Alonso.

      The unpredictability nature of the race was what made it so good in my opinion. We’ve seen so many races in the past decided after the opening lap. Nice change for F1 – even if its a little similar to some Indy Car races, to be honest.

  7. As I had posted earlier the season is set amazingly. We have had 6 drivers visiting the podium, winners have all been from different teams, the championship leader has been third on all the three races, the previous champion combination (Vettel+Red Bull) have only been to the podium once, and another team that has always been in the mix(Lotus Renault) have not finished or started well, and are bound to start doing it sometime or the other.

    Ferrari would not be happy with their race, but would have been relatively happy with the result, as the more diverse the result is, the less are chances of someone running away with the championship in the early stages.

    Now I hope Raikonnen and Schumi also get in the mix. Bahrain provides a good opportunity. Very glad its a double header, just can;t wait for it!

  8. Without his delay in the final stop, I think Button would have been very close to Rosberg at the end of the race, which would have been very interesting, although having him the pack of fighting cars was also exciting.

    Definitely a race of strategies. Why didn’t Raikkonen stay out longer in the first stint if he was only thinking of stopping twice? Also, McLaren’s second set of stops seemed to come too early, as they were dropped back into quite a bit of traffic. However, it was a very complicated race to read right, and I’m not saying the McLaren pitwall made the wrong calls.

    The biggest disappointment of the final part of the race was Alonso. Hounding Hamilton until their final stops, I thought he might be looking good for the third place Hamilton finally took, but Fernando for some reason went backwards.

  9. My view of the top 3:

    Rosberg: Perfect qualy, perfect start, perfect strategy, perfect drive. Not much else to say really.

    Button: He was disappointing in qualy, but the start definately made up for it. Seemed to struggle for pace a bit at the start, looking under a bit of pressure from Raikkonen. After his second stint he quickly passed the cars on much older tyres, with strong pace putting him in contention to win. But then the bad pitstop! After which, he was unable to get heat in the tyres and, like last year, his inability to pass but to bed any possible chance of a win.

    Hamilton: Very unlucky with the grid penalty, but limited the damage in qualy, and then again with a great start. Showed good pace in the first 2 stints, seemingly a little quicker than Jenson, but not enough to get close and pass. Was a little disappointing in his 3rd stint, and I think this was down to Massa more than Perez. Massa had pretty decent tyres and therefore, unlike Button, Hamilton didn’t have far superior grip to the cars ahead. This cost him time, and more importantly, tyres, meaning by the time he got to the high top speed Perez, he didn’t have the grip to pass. However, made a very good recovery in the final stint, with good passing and taking all his oppurtunities, crucially passing Webber.

    Notable others:
    Vettel made the strategy work well to get 5th.
    Senna and Maldonado did well to gain more points for Williams.
    Massa seemed to be doing well, but couldn’t quite reach the points.
    Poor Raikkonen!

    Overall a great race, with lots of different strategies leading to an intense finish!

    1. To be fair, nobody was passing in the big train of cars following Kimi. The 7 or 8 cars were all so close that they all had DRS available and so nothing happened. Its only when Kimi lost the tyres that all hell broke loose. Besides, that period where nobody passed each other was still bloody exciting racing – you knew nobody could afford a mistake.

      This is yet more evidence that whilst the DRS adds some passing, it does nothing for the racing. The Pirellis have a hell of a lot more to do with the intense racing.

      1. * This is yet more evidence that whilst the DRS adds some passing, it does nothing for the racing. The Pirellis have a hell of a lot more to do with the intense racing.

      2. That big train of cars reminded me a GP2 race. And well to the point, all cars behind Raikonnen were using DRS and even so they were not able to overtake, which for me it is a great indication that things are just fine. This championship is set to be decided on a very few details.

  10. Mercedes – i.e Ross Brawn, resident genius – seem to have been very canny with the introduction of the new duct, downplaying their competitiveness from early on and also cleverly disguising what seems to be a solution to their tyre degradation problems, turning that solution into a suprise tyre strategy for the pole sitter. Also helped by Rosberg driving so well. Excellent job, you can see why Red Bull and Lotus were the teams most worried by the new duct system.

    1. Yeah Ross and team Merc seem to have started to unlock the potential in this years car, big suprise to me that Rosberg didn’t seem to suffer the “Fall off” tyre degregation issue others had, most thought it would be a real issue for them. Would have been interesting to see Rosberg pushed had Button been released properly form that pit error. I think at that point Button would have made Rosberg work for that win.

      1. I think that a ‘solution’ to their tire degradation problem may not necessarily be at hand yet…if the next race has variable temp conditions throughout the weekend like the first two races did, they may get caught out again with the wrong setup for Sunday that might see them again not get their tires into the right operating window. Brawn had said leading up to this weekend that a stable temp weekend would help them a lot. I’m just wondering if the window is a very fine line and hitting said window is not as easy as it seems. For other teams too.

        As to JB making NR work for that win had his last pit gone normally…for sure that may have been the case but I can’t help feeling like NR was not going to be caught and that he had more in the bag if he needed it. He spent a good portion of the last segment of the race with quite a big lead, so I doubt he was pushing the car all that hard. ie. the gap might have been even greater to JB than it ended up being, making JB’s botched stop even more insignificant to the final result (at least between NR and JB). But as MS said about his botched stop that ended his day…”that’s part of the game.”

  11. That was a race full of action again! If this is the shape of 2012 we are in for another epic season.

    We had a superb and perfect drive from pole to flag from Rosberg, his only mistake having been that slight missing of the apex of one corner, which did not even cost him much time, but told him to get into the pits for his second stop. We had Webber doing a wheelie, and then continuing to take 4th off his team mate in the last laps of the race, putting pressure on Hamilton who was doing the same just moments before that.
    Kimi did a great race until he proved the cliff, and marbles can really mean the difference between 2nd and 14th within 2 laps.
    Kamui and Checo did a bit of hard ball action as well, and Grosjean getting past Kimi and Maldonado and Senna fighting on track showed this race was not one where teammates show remorse for eachother much.

    We saw Massa running in 2nd, before dropping to 12th after his pitstop, showing really how tight the field was. And to me that was the best news of this race, a superbly tight field with relatively small mistakes meaning a world of difference on track.

    1. Well said, and all I’ll add is it was great to see the racing between teammates…JB and LH…MW and SV…Grosjean and Kimi…etc. ie. other than what seems to be a ‘natural’ gap between FA and FM there is some great rivalries going on this year.

  12. Rosberg only needs to do another 444 Grands Prix to claim another 4 victories, and then he’ll be on equal terms with his never been father.

    1. If everybody won as quickly as Hamilton did, F1 would rapidly lose its lustre. Hakkinen took 96 races and he was the driver that frightened Schumacher the most.

      1. He did not frighten Schumacher. Schumacher doesn’t get frightened. Schumacher said Hakkinen was the opponent he respected the most. Not that I rate Hamilton that highly, but filling the sport with lesser drivers can hardly add to the sport’s lustre.

        1. Fair enough, but the sentiment is clear. I just think its unfair to take such a dig at Rosberg, using a measure of ability that is at best, unreliable.

    2. Rosberg only needs to do another 444 Grands Prix to claim another 4 victories, and then he’ll be on equal terms with his never been father.

      That “never been” was world champion.

      1. Keke won 5 races you know!
        Anyway, according to your logic Button and Hakkinen should never have been world champion, because it took them 6-7 seasons to achieve their first win? Trust me, this is just the beginning of Nico, he’s only 26 after all.

        1. If we are looking at age then Fangio didn’t win his first GP in Europe until he was 38 (Sanremo 1949*), but it was only his second race (following the 1948 French GP at Reims*).

          What point am I making here? Well, we have far more GPs in a season than we used to, and drivers sometimes get faster with age.

          * That’s right kids there was Grand Prix racing before there was Formula 1.

    3. @brolloks…you are obviously not a fan of father or son, so I’ll assume you are just conveniently ignoring the fact that often a driver having gotten a win under his belt takes off from there and is not the same driver as before. Let’s see where NR goes from here but I think it is safe to say that as long as he has the equipment, which all race and WDC winners need, he’ll not be needing 444 more races to win his next 4. If he has more weekends like he just had, he’ll win 4 this season.

      1. No I am certainly not ignoring the fact you are referring to. It is a possibility yes, to kick start a career after a first victory, as Hakkinen for example showed. And he was and has always has been a great driver, and before his victory all expected him to come great. But to simply assume that “this is the start of great things to come” from Rosberg, is ludicrous, even if his attitude after qualifying seem to support your argument. His behavior was not that of the excited young driver feeling privileged of what he had just achieved, he stood there with a smug expression like the spoiled rich kid that he is. If it was his 65th pole he may have had that attitude, but not when it’s your first after 111 attempts. It’s like playing mini-golf and making a scene after you’ve finally got the ball in the hole after 39 shots. As for his father, Schumacher won more championships than old Keijo won races. He has never had the authority to say anything about Schumacher, let alone the comments he had about Michael’s wife at Monaco ’06. Never been.

  13. First dry race after dry qualification, well at long last! Shame of MSC, BUTs slow pit, RAIs tyres (strategy?) and final positions for Saubers, I expected them attacking RBR.
    The field is quite matched, despite DRS on the longest straight in championship MAS and RAI were able to keep train of others behind their back for long time.

    1. Yes… a bit disappointed by the Saubers too. I expected more more 3rd place-starting Kobayashi.

      I have to re-view the race, but his start was quite bad. Mind you, he’s not experienced with a 2-row start…

  14. Superb summary of the race, Keith! And, oh, what a great but weird race. “What a train of cars!” – or something like that – Hamilton exclaimed as he towelled himself down before the podium. It did seem very odd the way many cars were incapable of overtaking each other, even with DRS. What was all that about?

    Brilliant pole and win from Rosberg. I wonder if Mercedes are very happy that things didn’t go to plan in their first two races? If the FIA had seen how much potential that car has for leaving the others in the dust, maybe their wing would have been banned – especially if Bernnie had interfered. I can see Mercedes running away with the championship à la Brawn ’09 if they keep adding significant updates to the car. Or am I getting too excited and carried away?

    Button showed class again today. He really is consistently looking better that Hamilton at the moment. I love Button – literately: I’ve got his picture above my bed :Op – but I am very surprised at what has happened to Hamilton. He used to be so awesomely quick.

    Finally, a great shame for Sauber. It looked like Kobayashi couldn’t get any temperature into his tyres. He looked average out their today which we all know is not true. So has Peter Sauber already handed over the mantle to Monisha Kaltenborn? He stayed in Switzerland this weekend for this Monday’s Sechseläuten holiday in Zürich, where we burn a snowman to death to bring in the Spring! Honest:äuten

    Warm greetings to all F1F writers and readers. I’m loving the season!!

    1. ‘It did seem very odd the way many cars were incapable of overtaking each other, even with DRS. What was all that about?’
      I think the main question is how on earth did Kimi hold off Vettel for so long that the ‘train’ could build up? With the exception of Kimi, literally everyone caught up in the train had the advantage of DRS, thus it didn’t make much difference to them, and Vettel always seemed close enough to use it, so Kimi must have been doing an outstanding job of defending that position!
      OT: A brilliant race! A well-deserved win for Rosberg after that belter of a qualifying time, and another consistent finish for Lewis. Which is a big change from last year xD
      Unlucky for Jenson on the pit-stop, but even more commiserations for Schumi… really a sad way for his race to end up :S

      1. Well… Vettel moaned about not haveing enough top speed.
        So the only one who could overtake RAI was the one whose top speed was not high enough. And all the rest had the benefit of the DRS, which canceled itself out !

        I agree about MSC. He is 7-time WChampion, so i think he took it light-heartidly.
        And Button’s pitstop was quite bad too.

        1. Didn’t they shorten the length of time/distance that the DRS flap could be open along that long straightaway? That is what I attribute the lack, at times, of DRS passing, even though there definitely were some DRS passes achieved.

  15. I do have to say, even though he was falling back by the end, that was a sterling drive by Vettel. The last 15 laps I was swearing blind that he had to come in, and Im still astonished he hung on and didnt have the offs that Kimi and Alonso did on wearing tyres.

    Reminiscent of Italy 2010. Nowhere, and then – How the hell did he get there? Brilliant drive.

    1. @banburyhammer Couldn’t agree more. It’s not often I use live timing during a race but today I used it, mainly to double check if Vettel should have been running as high as he was! I wanted him to finish on the podium to echo Webber’s race in China last year but I doubted he could hold on all the way to the end. I think that’s a year of experience with the Pirelli’s that caught Raikkonen out.

  16. Thumbs up for Grojean, anyone?

    1. Yep, from me too.
      A little mistake on lap 45. Then he tried the outside just like FA did with the same result. The battle with MAL and PER was nice !
      His lap 49 was great too. He’ll be delighted to be the one who brings some points this time.

  17. I hope that Michael gets a win or two as well as a couple of poles this year. I want Hamilton and McLaren to win both titles, but it would be some story for a driver entrenched in retirement to come out of it and still have what it takes to win races. Also hope for the same for Raikkonen, though Lotus seem to be 4th best at the moment.

    1. I also hope that Michael can prove that he is still very fast and can beat Rosberg :)

      1. I’m no MS fan so I don’t carry the same hopes as you two, but I do think he will pole and win this season (as NR may do again too) as long as Merc has lessened their susceptibility to missing the tire performance window on variable temperature weekends. If they still depend on stable temp weekends and even at that it is no guarantee of nailing their tire window(s), then Mac will give them a hard time this season. ie. I look to see how Merc has adapted to what they learned in the first two races. As in, how much of a tightrope are they walking between nailing their tire windows and not nailing them and only falling back during the race with tires that either have degraded prematurely, or come off the car looking brand new but having never been run at the optimum temps and therefore feeling to the driver like they were destroyed.

  18. I know it’s just three races into the season, but this year is turning out to be “best ever”: we got the closeness of the field from (the latter part of) 2009, the extremely changeable championship battle from 2010 AND the tight and exciting races from 2011! Couldn’t be much better.

  19. Great to see Rosberg take the win at long last. For the last 2 seasons it has always been Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button and Hamilton at the top of the leaderboard with extraordinary consistency, and however they started. This season it seems as though that stranglehold is breaking apart, or at the very least, Rosberg is joining the party.
    Lots of exciting action in the race, but it begins to seem as though strategists and pit crews are as important as drivers, with luck playing a leading role too. The decision-making on when and if regarding tyre changes was probably more significant than Vettel’s driving for instance, in getting him up to 5th place, while Raikkonen’s strategy to stay out whatever happened, cost us the chance to see a battle for the lead in the closing stages. Do we really want the strategists to be so fundamental to the results?

  20. I’m off to the bookies tomorrow to see what odds I can get for a three-way points tie for the WC at the end of the year. Just got to work out which three and their positions on countback… Piece of cake then, really!

  21. Tire excitement is fine but the marble corridor is ridiculous. There is nowhere to run.

    1. True: GRO, ALO, and RAI suffered at the same spot. What’s the point of a wide track if only 3 meters of its width are useful ?

  22. The Pirelli problem continues…

    Never seen such tire degredation. The weakness of the Pirelli tire is of great concern. Evidence suggests that if you go off line at the wrong place at the wrong time due to the debris field left on the track someone will certainly have an unpredictable moment. KR drove his nuts off to stay ahead, near the end we all witnessed the perils of these failing tires. The accumulation of material shed from these “un-Formula One” like tires are an embarrasment to this level of competition.

    If this trend continues someone will have to pay the price. Many support the concept that this is now good racing but I think it shows that F1 is OK with gimmicks like tires that fail in such an absurb manor and ultimately the potential for it becoming a high price to pay will be its down fall.

    Formula One is about challenging man and machine in pursuit of victory nation against nation. The pathway to that victory is one where testing the limits of mechanical adhesion is what the sport itself is based on. To see these cars challenge those limits as we did in China and then be confronted with an “ice rink” due to the failing Pirelli tires is a danger to the sport.

    History shows that even the best lost their lives while dealing with absurb tire performances. In a few days we celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of those moments, all due to the tire.

    If this continues, I suggest that a BLACK FLAG be thrown at Pirelli.

    1. 100% agree…

      But also its the teams to adapt and what Lotus did today was mind-boggling you would expect Marussia to do that type of error not them…:Really Sad taking away from all the good work Kimi did…. This was a HUGE mistake…

    2. Regardless of your view point on tyres you cannot throw a ‘black flag’ at Pirelli. They have provided what people asked of them and this is in absolutely no way a reflection on the quality of their tyre.

      You cannot request high degradation tyres without respecting the issues it creates off-line.

      1. I take TED BELL’s point but I don’t go so far as to blame Pirelli…they are doing what they have been asked to by the FIA.

        I blame the fact that the FIA still refuses to go as far as the likes of myself would like…ie. reduce aero dependancy even further than they did with the reduction of the effect of EBD for this season.

        I think they have the right idea with sticky tires (mechanical grip) and a reduction in aero dependancy, but I would go a little further. Sticky but more stable tires, much less aero dependancy, no DRS and then to me we would have seat of the pants passing without the gimmicks of DRS, mandated degrady tires, and aero trickery. It seems to be all about nailing or not nailing the optimum tire performance window so far this year, and it seems such a fine line that on any given day a driver can go from hero to chump just by that factor alone.

        I also take heart that the cars are much much more safe than they used to be, as are the tracks, not that I think that means they should add an element of danger because of these safer-than-ever cars and tracks in F1 we now experience.

  23. (@ TED BELL) I think you overplay the danger element re the tyres, but I do think you’re right that F1 is becoming too full of gimmicky rules and attempts to enhance the racing, at the expense of the “man and machine in pursuit of victory”. Would we be better with more than one tyre supplier and no limits about having to use two grades in one GP? I suspect so, even if sometimes one driver/car/tyre combination walks away with victory.

  24. i wonder why teams use the traffic light system for pits. It has failed with Ferrari in the past also. Thats why Schumacher was let off without the wheel nut on

    1. I agree entirely, I have recently been using a “Kindle” for reading and have noticed that unlike a book I only have to think about turning the page and I have pressed the button a line and a half too early and have to go back to make sense of the top line on the page in front of me, when this first started happening I was reminded of Massa trailing the fuel rig down pitrow.

  25. Schumacher’s slower pace did not seem to be a case of Mercedes tactics to give Rosberg a bigger lead

    Given the Mercedes poor race pace on the previous races, I thought for a moment yesterday that may be Mercedes were going for this kind of strategy, one driver blocking the others while the other would have flied away increasing the gap as much as he could have. It sounds crazy such a gamble, but, who knows. A reminiscence of Malaysia 1999.

    1. When they postulated at the start of the race as to the possiblity of MS holding back the field for NR, my immediate thought was…no way…MS has been outpointed two seasons in a row by NR…now the car is much better and MS has much more of a handle on it vs. the last two seasons. MS is not here this season to back NR. He is doing everything he can to outpoint NR for a change. Anyway, it was obvious before long that JB wasn’t really knocking on MS’s door initially anyway. ie. it’s not like JB was right on MS’s butt and MS was needing to take extreme measure to keep a parade behind him for NR’s benefit. I believe there is true racing going on between MS and NR, as this weekend showed there is between MW and SV, and JB and LH…thank goodness.

  26. The last 50 races (Webber’s first win to Rosberg’s):

    Vettel: 18 wins (JPN 09, ABU 09, MAL 10, EUR 10, JPN 10, BRA & ABU 10, AUS & MAL 11, TUR-MON 11 (3), EUR 11, BEL – SIN 11 (3), KOR & IND 11)
    Hamilton: 8 wins (HUN 09, SIN 09, TUR & CAN 10, BEL 10, CHN 11, GER 11, ABU 11)
    Webber: 7 wins (GER 09, BRA 09, SPN & MON 10, GBR 10, HUN 10, BRA 11)
    Alonso: 7 wins (BAH 10, GER 10, ITA & SIN 10, KOR 10, GBR 11, MAL 12)
    Button: 6 wins (AUS 10, CHN 10, CAN 11, HUN 11, JPN 11, AUS 12)
    Barrichello: 2 wins (EUR & ITA 09)
    Raikkonen: 1 win (BEL 09)
    Rosberg: 1 win (CHN 12)

  27. Well, that was pretty entertaining. Lots of stuff going on! Interesting that not only did Mercedes get their first modern era win, they were also the only team to have a car drop out. It would have been cool to see where MS could have wound up without that mistake in the pits, but so it goes. Also, and I don’t know if it’s been mentioned elsewhere on the site, but I had to laugh at a comment made by Will Buxton on the Speed Channel here in the US. He suggested that conspiracy theorists might opine that the Mercedes top brass could have ordered Button’s slow pit stop, thus helping to ease the way for Nico’s win. Highly doubtful, methinks!

    1. Beyond doubtful and definitely ridiculous.

      1. Doesn’t say much for what Buxton thinks of Mercedes’ integrity. After all, a JB win would have been a win for Mercedes too. Just not a factory win of the kind they are comparing to 1955. Does he not think the Merc top brass are into racing, and duking it out on the track, but prefer to ‘win’ through politics and phone calls? And Buxton is also suggesting then that Merc must not have much faith in NR. I think it would take quite a paranoid conspiracy theorist of the extreme to try to pull off that argument, and Buxton must just be searching for media ‘market share’ of his own with such a silly suggestion.

        1. Buxton was definitely grasping at straws with that comment, and I wouldn’t doubt that he regrets making it. Bob Varsha pretty much laughed it off, and no more was said.

  28. Talking about Pit stops, Lewis’ pass on Kimi in the pits was even more significant than noted, in my opinion. Had Lewis been released a nano second later he would have been not only behind Kimi but Webber would have been ahead of Kimi, Webber got past Kimi but could not get back onto the clean track because Hamilton was there. That’s the way I saw it was I wrong ? With clean track ahead it could have reversed the Webber/Hamilton finish, how nano seconds make a huge difference.

  29. Talking about Webber I was watching via a stop/start internet link and was unclear as to what happened to MW at the start, I think MW started OK but was boxed in behind KK who was going backward faster than MW all last year. Any one confirm or otherwise?

  30. Yes Nico Yes! You are finally a race winner, you controlled the race really well and showed dominant pace and the tyres worked in your favour and made the 2 stop work which some of the others couldn’t get it to work namely kimi. I’m still unsure about the tyre wear in hotter conditions specifically Bahrain, that is where the acid test is with spain and monaco coming the Mercs need to fix that problem at the warmer tracks, china’s track temp was cooler but hopefully for his sake they are sorted so he can challenge for the WDC and for us someone new in the mix.

    It was a very good race with all the tactics and strategy building to an explosive ending with it all kicking it was a shame for kimi but it gave us an all action ending with Webber pulling a class pass on Seb and they both did well to come through the field, Grosjean, Maldonado and Bruno Senna drove very good races, as did Perez and Kobayashi although the 3 stop was quicker for Kamui than the 2 stop was for Checco. Force India and STR struggled and the less said about my beloved Ferrari the better.

    All in All a great race!

Comments are closed.