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Rosberg converts first pole to first win in Chinese GP thriller
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Apr 2012   |  12:41 pm GMT  |  305 comments

Nico Rosberg joined the exclusive club of drivers who have converted their first pole position into their first victory with a dominant performance in Shanghai. It was Mercedes first win as a constructor since 1955.

And it meant that team boss Ross Brawn has now won races as a senior manager with four different teams, a unique achievement.

Rosberg produced a faultless drive and it gave him that elusive first win after one-hundred and eleven starts, and the first for the Silver Arrows since 1955. Rosberg completed the race twenty seconds clear of the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

He was helped by a pit stop blunder on lap 39 by the McLaren team on Button’s car, which cost him five seconds and dropped him into a pack of cars instead of back into second place on Rosberg’s heels. If the stop had been normal, McLaren believe he would have been 12 seconds behind Rosberg with 17 laps to go and tyres that would have been five laps newer. He might have closed the gap, but whether he would have had a genuine chance to win is open to doubt.

The Mercedes had a considerably faster race pace than had been expected and was able to match the McLaren duo on the prime tyres, which were much faster than the softer option tyres even for the cars that opted for a three-stop strategy. Rosberg, much against expectations, made one less stop then the McLarens and looked as though he would be under pressure from Button later in the race were it not for a wheel gun issue during Button’s final pit-stop.

Rosberg pulled away from the line perfectly and was able to open up a six second gap before the first round of pit-stops. Behind him at this time was his team mate Michael Schumacher, himself producing a good first stint before a loose wheel nut forced him to retire from the race following his pit-stop. Jenson Button was able to inherit second place and looked as though he was going to make good use of his three-stop strategy and claim his second victory of the year, however he will still be happy to put McLaren a fair distance ahead in the Constructors Championship.

The race saw a huge amount of overtakes and changes in position as cars constantly found themselves being dropped back in to the pack following their pit-stops. Hamilton and Mark Webber in particular found themselves in this position for much of the race which limited their progress on fresh tyres, with Webber eventually coming home in fourth after passing Sebastian Vettel on the penultimate lap. Vettel had made a poor start from eleventh on the grid and dropped three places, but he was able to make his two-stop strategy work and make his tyres last the distance.

Romain Grosjean also had a strong race to finish his first Grand Prix for Lotus and take sixth place. He managed to make his two-stop strategy work, unlike his team-mate. Kimi Raikkonen drove a very good race and with ten laps remaining he was sat in second position, albeit with increasing pressure from the seven-strong train of cars behind. However, Vettel put him on the marbles around the outside on Turn 7 and from there he dropped back to fourteenth by the chequered flag.

The Williams team once again received a good haul of points with Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado in seventh and eighth place respectively. Similarly to the Malaysian Grand Prix they showed very consistent race pace and kept the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and both Sauber’s at bay in the latter stages. Alonso opted to use a second set of option tyres, against the general trend, after his first pit-stop which lost him a lot of track time on Webber. Kamui Kobayashi claimed the final point for Sauber, but it could have been much different as his team-mate Sergio Perez defended extremely aggressively on the run down to Turn 14.

Behind Perez was Paul Di Resta who had a fairly quiet race and failed to make the most of his two-stop strategy. That was the same story for the majority of cars that chose this strategy, barring Rosberg, as Massa, Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg all struggled home towards the tail of the field.

Toro Rosso will be happy to end a poor weekend with Jean Eric-Vergne heading Daniel Ricciardo home in sixteenth and seventeenth. Behind these two were the Caterham, Marussia and HRT cars with them each finishing in qualifying position apart from Heikki Kovalainen who also had a troubled pit-stop and dropped to last position.

[Additional reporting: Matt Meadows]

CHINESE GRAND PRIX, Shanghai, 56 Laps
1. Rosberg Mercedes 1h36:26.929
2. Button McLaren + 20.626
3. Hamilton McLaren + 26.012
4. Webber Red Bull + 27.924
5. Vettel Red Bull + 30.483
6. Grosjean Lotus + 31.491
7. Senna Williams + 34.597
8. Maldonado Williams + 35.643
9. Alonso Ferrari + 37.256
10. Kobayashi Sauber + 38.720
11. Perez Sauber + 41.066
12. Di Resta Force India + 42.273
13. Massa Ferrari + 42.700
14. Raikkonen Lotus + 50.500
15. Hulkenberg Force India + 51.200
16. Vergne Toro Rosso + 51.700
17. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 1:03.100
18. Petrov Caterham + 1 lap
19. Glock Marussia + 1 lap
20. Pic Marussia + 1 lap
21. De la Rosa HRT + 1 lap
22. Karthikeyan HRT + 2 laps
23. Kovalainen Caterham + 3 laps

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I haven’t read all the posts on this thread so I may be repeating what has already been said.

I don’t agree with the many comments about the quality of the Chinese GP, which in my eyes was the dullest race of the season so far. I do not think comparisons to GP2 and Formula Ford are particularly favourable!

Ignoring Rosberg who clearly drove a dominant race and deserved to win, the rest of the field was hugely influenced by tyre considerations. The final result was largely a story of tyre strategy and conservation, played out in the final 10 laps. Undoubtedly the low temperatures contributed significantly to this picture and it will be interesting to see how this works in Bahrain, where temperatures will be higher.

As we know, F1 races are now (some say artificially) influenced by DRS and it must be presumed that the F1 supremos are content for tyre degradation to become a major factor, all in the name of “improving the show”. I have been a fan of DRS ,principally because it gets rounf the long standing F1 problem of a fast car being unable to pass a slower car, solely because of loss of aero.

However, I believe the tyre issue is different because it forces drivers to give higher priority to tyre management and therefore to drive conservatively. In the long term, this is unlikely to be good for F1.

Let’s see how the next few races go!



Congratulations on you always doing a great job.

Good comments above.


Hi James

Based on your observations, was schumacher slowing down the cars behind him or was he conserving his tyres considering the merc’s tyre degradation was unknown.

Grayzee (Australia)

All good comments, above, from some very passionate fans. Great stuff!

Now, here in Australia, we get commentary from Martin Brundle and David Croft.

I have a request……….would someone please put a sock in Crofty’s mouth!!

I’m all for passionate commentary, but this guy goes over the top! He’s nuts!

Brundle does his best to calm him down, but…..

Am I alone on this, or does anyone agree?

(bring back the dulcet tones of one Mr Allen please… 🙂 )


Agreed. 100%..I am going to the internet next race to get away from it which is a shame since i enjoy MB.


ha, was thinking same thing about the crofty. had to check that i was not watching a horse race getting called. Am a bit of a brundle fan tho, i find he has some very interesting storys, and generally seems to pick up most of what is happening on track.(unlike the formerly stated commentator, who seems to wrapped up in his own voice to be able to pay attention to who and what is happening on track).


I’m very happy on Radio 5 Live thanks…


James, could you tell me when was the last race without a safety car, where the top 16 drivers finished within 52 seconds of the winner? Would be a long time, if ever????


Yes, good observation. Thanks


Congratulations to Rosberg on his first F1 race victory, and commiserations to Schumacher. Schumacher has been quite unlucky so far this year. He would have finished comfortably in the points in the first two races, and could have been on the podium in China.

Mercedes have a car that has good mechanical grip, and is good in lower downforce situations. I think Rosberg is at his best when the car is perfect, and is not as strong when the car is not to his liking. I feel Schumacher can produce better results than Rosberg when the car is not quite at it’s best.

I feel McLaren will be the strongest car in Bahrain in both qualifying and the race. I think Hamilton will pick up his first race victory of the season.


Very glad to see Rosberg on the top step after all these years, very well deserved. I’ve been a rosberg fan for many years and this really feels overdue. Also very glad to see Williams haul in a decent number of points, especially considering where they started! James – have you been impressed with Senna this year or what? He seems to have shown alot of maturity and speed, and has beaten Maldonado 2/1, even though he’s been sharing his car with Bottas on Fridays.


Yes, good races. Yet to get it together in quali.

The Williams is a very good car, I have to say


Wow I never thought I’d see the day when a Mercedes not driven by MS, a rookie in a Lotus and the 2 Williams cars would out pace both Ferraris.


Get used to it..


LOL…that was cruel and heartless James! I can almost hear the sound of your voice uttering the words, at least the way it sounds on TV when you interview the podium drivers after the race! Your post today on Pat Fry’s “Stark Assessment” does NOT lighten my mood.


Congrats to Rosberg, very happy he finally got a win. Be interesting to see if it improves his confidence and he drives better.

In saying that, I have to say I am very impressed with Jensons form at the moment. His drive was good. He is looking like a very strong contender for this years honors.

Roll on the next race, this years racing is so good 🙂

Stone the crows

Great run by Nico. Also a fine showing by Sauber again. One only needed to watch how quickly Kimi lost pace to see how critical the tyres were today.


Not just a fantastic race, but also a fantastic weekend. Everything clicked from quali through to the chequered flag.

However, a word of caution. Although Rosberg demonstrated his obvious skills as a driver, he still has not demonstrated an ability to do this week in, week out. Too often he has frustratingly tripped up during Q3. Hopefully, this win will give him the imputus to forge ahead towards a title. Only time will tell.


“Too often he has frustratingly tripped up during Q3”



Exciting race!. Rosberg deserves the maiden win!. Pleasantly surprised to see a ‘new’ Hamilton. Patient and almost clean overtaking moves – diametrically different from last year!. Way to go. Button looks very strong as well.

McLaren seems to be the team to beat unless Ross Brawn pulled out a ‘2009’-ish trick…..

Adrian Newey Jnr

The race results so far have shown that being WDC is all about consistency. There are teams out there with potentially quick cars but whom are not getting the results they need early in the championship to build a buffer to mount a serious bid. I would love to see Michael win a race for all the doubters out there. However, I feel that Button is going to win this championship. He just collects results all the time and thats what you need to be WDC.


“However, I feel that Button is going to win this championship. He just collects results all the time and thats what you need to be WDC.”

You must be watching a different championship to me??


Including the end of last season, there have been six winners in the last six races – I can’t remember that EVER happening in the 20 years I’ve been following F1!


I tell a lie – the last time was the last 5 races of 1999/the first race of 2000. But that’s going back a while!


I loved the race and the close racing with the Massa and then Raikkonen train. ‘Slow-burner’ is right, from DC. Very happy for Rosberg and he definitely deserved it this weekend.

I was also very happy and impressed with Lewis’s drive back to 3rd place. He was made to wait to overtake both Massa and Perez (two-stopping) but didn’t throw the toys out with the pram, kept his head – and the tyres – and achieved a great result. I’m sure Perez has ticked off another box in the ‘Requirements to be in Ferrari” checklist!!

James, what’s the word in the pitlane about Hamilton’s attitude and performance so far in 2012? I think he is looking really good. There was one interesting radio message from Jenson’s engineer after Jenson had just overtaken Vettel and Lewis was still behind Vettel: “Well done Jenson – now lets try and open up a gap to Lewis”. That, to me at least, is some indication that McLaren believe that this year is going to be decided between their two drivers.


Well they are certainly competing! Hamilton is doing well. His problems this weekend were caused by the grid penalty. Without that could he have won the race on three stops from P2 on the grid? You’d have to say he’d have pushed Rosberg hard and the story would have been different.

Likewise Button should be leading the championship comfortably if he hadn’t made that uncharacteristic error in hitting the HRT in Malaysia


@ James,

Just another point.

You wrote “Button should be leading the championship comfortably” – I disagree….

In reference to Lewis….

1)If not for the safety car in Australia which cost him 2nd place – which was unlucky. (points lost)

2)He was leading the Malaysian GP and was ahead of Jenson by 2.357 sec before the saftey car came out due to the rain, followed by a poor pit stop whilst in the lead of the race. (very unlucky and more points lost)

3)The 5 place grid penalty in China, after finishing 2nd in quali compared to Jenson’s 5th place(and to cap it off, Lewis beat Jenson by more than half a second in quali).

All of the above issues, were out of Lewis’s control, he didn’t make no uncharacteristic mistake like Jenson.

To be frank James, Jenson is very lucky in my view to be 2 points behind and if he continues to qualify behind Lewis it’s going be a long long season ahead for Jenson – safety cars/rain/strategy won’t rescue him all the time.


Hello James,

A basic question, what is Sam Micheal’s role on McLaren’s pit wall? He hasn’t yet exerted his influence on ‘trackside’ operations…

3 races and 3 race-time goof ups..

a. Australia, Not pitting Lewis a lap earlier lost him a position to Vettel (safety car not withstanding, he lost 6sec to Button just by pitting a lap later)

b. Malaysia, dealyed pit stop for Lewis.. might not have affected the final standings, but still…

c. China, delayed pit stop for Button.. same as above

Further, I understand these things ‘happen’ in a race condition… but that’s why the Track Side Operation guy is paid .. to minimize the occurance.

Also, McLaren’s pit stops are good but not the best. Just relieved that Lewis didn’t loose a postion to Alonso when they pitten together. He almost lost a position to Kimi though!


He’s the Sporting Director, so it’s overseeing all aspects. They’ve had problems for a few years now. Recently they’ve done a lot of work on the pit stops, ironing out problems, redesigning new rear jacks etc. There’s a lot to do, but let’s judge them at the end of the season. It could be that the problems are coming now but the rest of the season will be clean.


James, was it just me or had McLaren opted to go for a straight pit box in the race, as opposed to the slanted one they were testing out in free practice? I’m sure I saw one of the McLarens come in at an angle, and the mechanics having to readjust themselves accordingly?


“Extremely aggressively” is extremely right! That was your teammate, man! Shades of Senna on Prost at Estoril.

Congrats to Rosberg, he won it going away. This puts the W03 right up there with the MP4-27 as the best car, I think. Certainly they had the best car today … the jury’s still out I guess on how they’ll fare on tracks with a lot of high-speed corners.

Not a lot of DRS passing, at least it seemed that way vis-a-vis 2011, but more passing in other spots. I think Hamilton alone passed four people into turn 6.

I think 2011 was a better race, but 2012 was pretty darn good.


Well done, Britney 🙂 Mercedes may not win again for a while, seeing what happened in the first two races. So it’s good to have a convincing first win, like Webber’s and unlike Kovalainen’s.

I enjoyed Webber’s pass on Vettel as well. It keeps the intra-team battle alive.


Stunning race , my 7 year old was jumping about with excitement. More racing like this please


Wow…congrats to Mercedes and Rosberg for proving the doubters wrong. I was expecting a Schumi, Kimi and Koby podium (all 3 had disasterous race).

All of Alonso’s attacking and defensive skills on display today.

Wonder how things are in the Sauber camp. Looking at body language in the media, there are obviously no team orders or love lost between Checo & Koby since Malaysia. Brave move to overtake Checo & Fernando on the back straight and instead of attacking Alonso, Checo tries to put Koby into the wall to save P10??


Has Michael been smashing mirrors or walking under ladders on his way to the grid?!

I haven’t seen such a depressing run of bad luck since Kimi drove a McLaren… For the love of God, please give him a break for the rest of the season. Please!

Good job Nico, shame Buttons pit stop put an end to a battle for victory.

P.S BBC coverage is better than SKY at the moment… Minus the commentary from Crofty & Brundle

Grayzee (Australia)

agree with crofty comment. The guy is so over the top…and often gets it wrong, too. He DID correct himself though…..


I have not been impressed with Crofty at all. Mistakes and late calls. Seems to be distracted.

Hopefully he will get better.


Great race. Well done Pirelli.

I am pleased that Rosberg won his first race, but disappointed for MSC. I think he would have got his first podium for Merc today. I feel that the person who can be most satisfied is Norbert Haug. He has been such an advocate of Mercedes motorsport and he can finally put some all Mercedes silverware in the trophy cabinet.

I think JB’s race was compromised in Q3. Why didn’t Mclaren send him out earlier when they must have known (I could have told them that actually) that the temperature was dropping. With Hamilton’s penalty that was his race to lose, and I’m afraid he did.

Great driving up and down the field.

Warren Groenewald

Wow, what a crazy race, with so many cars so close on track and the kind of overtaking action we would normally see in 125cc motorcycle races. It was incredible that even though Button and Hamilton drove fairly normal races, they still ended up deep within a pack towards the end and had to pass the cars in front to earn their podiums!

Disappointed for Alonso today, he really deserved better than 9th after spending much of the race on the fringes of the top 5.

And equally disappointed for the Saubers – great quali and good race to come away virtually empty handed.

Finally, well done to Webber. After being slaughtered all last year, he really is proving that the car does make such a difference.

Tornillo Amarillo

Thrilling few laps with Perez locking up and Hamilton however keeping the car in his tale!

I think the WCC is not looking so bad for Red Bull for now, and also Webber could be a serious challenger like it was in 2010 just until the end of this year (he deserves it).


James really enjoyed seeing this sally between you and Jaime (coudn’t watch live but was chortling to myself causing a few raised eyebrows):

BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari: “Felipe Massa’s just giving the positions to all the cars behind him! He should have closed the door much more on Hamilton.” BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen replies: “Well, why don’t you go over to Stefano Domencali and tell him if you want a driver who’ll close the door on Hamilton, I’m your man?”

keep up the good work – next time I’m out and about will tune into your commentary.

great race really enjoyed watching it (albeit later)

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