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GP Week : Issue 149
slow in a straight line, it should be noted – as they were last year; last year, though, their speed onto the straights more than compensated for the loss; such are the regulation changes – and the reactions to those changes for 2012.) Jenson would have needed a perfect final stint after a perfect final pit stop. He would have been on new tyres – and 12 seconds or so might have been reduced to a margin that might have put Nico under pressure. As it was, Nico assumed a 22-second lead when Jenson stopped – and Jenson, then, was left to pick up the pieces. Or could Nico lose it purely by making a mistake? Fernando Alonso ran very wide, a victim of the F2012’s relatively poor grip, when he was running comfortably in the middle of the ‘Raikkonen train’ in the closing phase (on used mediums). He still finished in the points – but points were lost, nonetheless. (Even so – and on the assumption that Fernando’s biggest championship rivals this year are going to be the McLaren boys – this wasn’t a disastrous race for Ferrari, given the F2012’s current lack of useable downforce. Nico took points from both Lewis and Jenson, of course – and Fernando flies to Bahrain knowing that he is nonetheless P3, still ahead of the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers.) Nico could have over-used his tyres; he did not. Others on two-stop strategies – LotusF1 classically – had no rubber left in the closing phase; Nico, by comparison, had relatively few qualms. He could also have made an error or two when he wasn’t leading, when he had to assume that Jenson Button would indeed stop for a third time; he did not. He calmly accepted that Jenson – a driver you can never second-guess – not when it comes to tyre management and strategy – would probably stop again and that, in the meantime, he would be right there, ready to race, if that was what he needed to do. And so, by the stunning margin of 20.626 seconds, he won his first Grand Prix. They talked about Mercedes’ first win since 1955 – since the days of Juan Fangio and Stirling Moss – (although the genesis of the BAR-Honda-Brawn- Mercedes team is a little removed from that of Stuttgart’s famous Silver Arrows!) and they talked about the problems of the World Champions, Red Bull Racing, who finished only fourth and fifth, and of Ferrari, who finished as low as ninth and 13th. They praised, too – and correctly so – the speed of the Williams-Renaults, for Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado were again in the points, this time finishing seventh and eighth. For me, though, this was race about the all-round excellence of Nico Rosberg, son of Keijo. He has improved massively as a driver over the past six years and on this weekend in China he not only out-paced Michael Schumacher in the same, extremely fast, car but also took the pole and won in style. Chapeau! For more of Windsor on F1 watch The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv F1 >>> CHINA 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: