Date:Monday April 16 2012
Nico Rosberg came to China last weekend without a pole position or a race win to his name.
The German driver though after 110 races was able to finally step outside of the shadow of his father after on Saturday taking his first pole position and on Sunday driving a faultless race to claim his maiden win.
With 5 pole positions, 5 wins and the 1982 Formula One World Championship, Nico still has a bit of catching up to do on his father Keke, but in China, Nico was able to convert his first pole into a first win, which was something that his father couldn't do.
The weekend started well for Mercedes and slowly got better as the event unfolded. Free practice 1 came and although Nico Rosberg was a full +1.010 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, that time was still enough to place him second on the timing sheets.
In Free practice 2 Nico's team-mate Michael Schumacher was fastest, with Rosberg fifth, 0.644 seconds behind the seven time former champion. FP3 came on Saturday and Rosberg was consistently quick once more, finishing third behind the McLaren's 0.449 seconds behind Hamilton.
But this was to be the last time another car could compete with Rosberg for the remainder of the weekend.
Rosberg and Mercedes managed to find the perfect lap in qualifying to place the Mercedes on pole. It was quite simply a phenomenal lap, something that no-one could get near. A time of 1m35.121s, was enough to beat Hamilton by +0.505 and team-mate Schumacher by +0.570.
Once Hamilton's gear box penalty had come into play it meant that Mercedes were handed a 1-2 start for the Chinese Grand Prix by default, the first time Mercedes had locked out the front row of a Grand Prix since 1955.
'It's a very special day for me because this is my first pole in Formula One, and the first for a Silver Arrow since 1955. Firstly it was a strange feeling because I was watching the end of Q3 from the FIA garage as we decided to save a set of option tyres for the race, and I couldn't do anything but watch! Seeing that I finished at the top of the timesheets and with half a second in hand made me the happiest man.'
'I will enjoy starting next to Michael from the front row which is also very special to me.'
If qualifying was a faultless performance, then so was the race.
In the build-up to the race there was a lot of build-up to suggest that the grid layout was wrong. The racing line actually runs over the second place grid spot, giving that side of the track more grip and a better chance of getting the perfect traction away from the grid. The pole side was on the dirty line, but that didn't affect Rosberg and he had the perfect start getting away ahead of Schumacher.
During the opening laps Rosberg was quick to pull out a lead of over a second to prevent Schumacher from using the DRS to get close and then tat was pretty much the last we saw of him all afternoon.
Rosberg was quite simply in a class of his own and even if Schumacher hadn't retired it's unlikely he could have challenged him for the victory.
Rosberg eventually went on to finish 20 seconds ahead of the competition, completing two pit-stops to everyone elses three. But the Mercedes probably had a bit more in reserve that if they had wanted to switch to three stops, they could have done without losing the lead.
Speaking to the media after celebrating his first win Rosberg said: 'This is a very special moment for me. The whole weekend went perfectly. My first pole position, now my first win in Formula One - it really is fantastic. But it's not only this; it's the first win for the new Silver Arrow and for this great team. That is really special for me. Thanks to everybody in the team, here in China and in our factories in Brackley and Brixworth. It makes me very proud that we have improved the car so quickly. I will never forget this race, and the last 20 laps felt as long as if I was racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours! But then crossing the line was so intense. We will enjoy this success, but our feet are still on the ground.
Date:Monday April 16 2012
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Blog: Abu Dhabi Qualifying (Saturday November 22 2014)
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