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GP Week : Issue 149
It may have taken 111 grand prix starts to get there, but Nico Rosberg secured the first victory of his Formula One career with a commanding performance at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Mercedes driver might not have led every lap of the Chinese Grand Prix, thanks to two forays into the pits that saw Sergio Perez and Jenson Button share eight leading laps between them, but Rosberg’s Sunday drive was close to utter domination. Commanding the race from the very beginning, Rosberg pulled away from the pack in a manner not dissimilar to Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 disappearing act. By lap 6, the Mercedes driver was 2.6s ahead of his teammate, who was deftly slowing down the men behind while attempting to chase Rosberg down. By lap 8, the gap between P1 and P2 was increasing at an average 0.6s per lap. And by the time Rosberg made the first of his two pit stops at the end of lap 13, the young German had built up enough of a margin that he returned to the track in P3. By lap 18, Rosberg was leading once more. The Chinese Grand Prix saw Rosberg’s first career pole, and by converting that pole into his first career victory the German joins an exclusive club of F1 drivers who managed the same feat. It is the only statistic the Mercedes driver currently shares with Ayrton Senna. But Sunday’s victory was not just a win for Rosberg – it was also proof to the powers that be in Stuttgart that the Mercedes F1 programme is worth continuing. This is the third season of the Silver Arrows’ Formula One comeback, and before China the rebooted Mercedes had only three podium finishes to their name, all scored by Rosberg in 2010. Mercedes’ last race win took place at Monza in 1955, which was also the scene of the team’s last front-row lock-out. Juan-Manuel Fangio powered the W196 to victory in a race of high attrition in which half of the entrants retired. The contrast to China in 2012 couldn’t be more stark – the only retirement on Sunday afternoon came courtesy of Rosberg’s Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher, whose race ended thanks to a faulty wheel nut. OOPS, HE DID IT (BUT NOT AGAIN) – Rosberg takes maiden F1 victory 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> CHINA