Rosberg storms to Chinese Grand Prix victory

Nico Rosberg has dominated today’s Chinese Grand Prix, to take his first ever F1 victory. He kept the lead at the start, and never looked back. Michael Schumacher was forced into retirement, while the final 10 laps saw a crazed battle for 2nd. Here is what happened:

At the start, the Mercedes drivers held their position, while Jenson Button moved through to 3rd, and Kamui Kobayashi slipped down past his teammate. Sebastian Vettel had a dismal start, falling to 14th place.

Nico pulled out a gap to Michael, while Mark Webber made a surprise switch to the primes on lap 7. His teammate was stuck in the midfield, complaining to the team that his RB8 was too slow on the straights.

A train of cars soon started to appear behind the second Mercedes car. Not wanting to be held up, Raikkonen and Hamilton stopped on lap 11. The Lotus were were slightly slower than the McLaren crew, and Kimi slipped behind Hamilton and Mark Webber, whose gamble had paid off.

Interestingly, both Mercedes cars proved surprisingly efficient at protecting their tyres. Schumacher was the first of the two to stop, but was pipped by Button. It was about to get much worse though, as he soon pulled over to retire, citing a problem with his rear wheel. The replays revealed that one of his wheels was not secured as he left his box.

Rosberg stopped a lap later, taking on primes, and leaving Perez briefly in front. However, the Sauber driver stayed out too long, and emerged in 10th, ahead of Vettel.

Sebastian soon found his way past Perez, while Romain Grosjean harassed Kamui Kobayashi for 7th. Webber was again the first to stop at the second pit stop phase. The McLarens pitted on laps 23 and 24, but Hamilton found himself stuck behind Felipe Massa for several laps.

Jenson found some good pace after his second stop, and attempted to close the gap to Rosberg as much as possible. After cruising past Vettel using DRS, he cut over 8 seconds off the gap. When Nico pitted, he was behind the McLaren, but Jenson had to stop once more.

Webber's casual push to catch the car ahead

Webber's casual push to catch the car ahead

Further back, Lewis Hamilton was hounding Sergio Perez for 3rd. The Mexican driver locked his tyres horribly, but impressively managed to hold off the McLaren, despite running on much older tyres. He eventually made his final stop with 20 laps to go.

Replays showed Mark Webber launching his car off the kerbs of turn 13, amazingly causing no terminal damage to the Red Bull.

Button failed to increase the gap to Rosberg, and a slow pit stop ruined his chances of challenging for the win. He emerged in 6th, as a slow left rear wheel caused the delay.

A 10-car train formed behind Felipe Massa, as the Ferrari’s poor pace and different strategy closed up the field nicely. When he finally pitted, Kimi Raikkonen was 2nd, ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso made a move on Pastor Maldonado, but ran wide on the marbles and lost a place to Sergio Perez.

Romain Grosjean made the same mistake while trying to pass Vettel, and rejoined the track while clashing wheels with Maldonado. They battled for half a lap side-by-side until Grosjean came out on top.

With 10 laps to go, a huge train of cars were still battling for 2nd. Kimi Raikkonen lost several places in one lap, being passed by Vettel, then running wide and losing 2 more spots. Car after car sliced past the Lotus, leaving Raikkonen 10th a lap later. The Saubers pushed each other to the limits of the track, with Kobayashi moving past Perez.

With 5 laps to go, the battle was cut down to three world champions – Vettel, Button and Hamilton. Sebastian’s tyres were badly worn, and Jenson out-braked the Red Bull into turn 14. Lewis sailed past for 3rd with two laps to go, leaving the Red Bulls 4th and 5th.

On the final lap, Webber sliced past his teammate around the outside of turn 14, sealing the positions of the top 5. The crazy racing of the final 20 laps directed attention away from Nico Rosberg, who cruised to his first ever well-deserved Formula 1 victory.

The delight from the Mercedes team was clear – after two disappointing races, Rosberg has finally shown his full potential, and given the team its first victory in 57 years.

Lewis Hamilton now leads the drivers championship, followed closely by teammate Button, with Alonso and Webber behind.

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