NGK sparks Mercedes Silver Arrows to historic victory at Chinese Grand Prix
Fangio and Moss were team mates the last time Mercedes scored a Grand Prix victory 57 years ago at Monza. This time the honours were to go to Nico Rosberg to claim his first GP victory in a dominant performance in Shanghai, with fellow Mercedes powered drivers, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton taking second and third to complete a podium lock out for NGK sparked teams.
From the outset the Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Schumacher looked strong with Michael topping the timing lists leading up to Saturday qualifying. The teams outright pace has left competitors looking distinctly second rate in terms of speed while Ross Brawn and his team look set to maybe repeat in part his success with the team that once born his name.
Come qualifying on Saturday the true pace of the teams, no longer masked by weather conditions, began to emerge. As the teams vied for position through stages one and two of qualifying, come the final session Rosberg stunned everyone with a lap over half a second quicker than the next nearest rival, his team mate Michael Schumacher. A Mercedes one, two. In fact a one, two that could have been a three, four as well had Hamilton not suffered a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change earlier. But with Button in true third, the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi a storming fourth (promoted from fifth), followed by Webber and a feisty looking Raikkonen filling the third row, things were looking interesting for the start.
Sadly though, for everyone except Rosberg that is, Nico got the perfect start on Sunday with his Silver Arrow spearing into the lead and a position which seldom looked like being threatened for the rest of the afternoon, despite the efforts of Button who later in the race looked as if he might have a chance of reeling Rosberg in. But those efforts came to naught after a pit stop problem killed his chances of challenging the flying German.
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher who followed Nico into a confident looking second place from the start, suffered a lose wheelnut after his first pit stop which brought his race to a premature end just three corners later. So a historic one, two for Mercedes was not to be on the cards today.
Behind Rosberg however there were titanic battles palying out for seemingly every other position. At one point six cars were vying for second place behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus Renault which has showed it’s performance is to be reckoned with. Kimi though hit the metaphorical “tyre wall” as their performance suddenly deteriorated on lap 47 which saw him move backwards from second to twelfth is the space of two laps!
Amongst all the drama, reigning champion Vettel found himself moving ever higher up the race order which was something of a surprise as he had struggled all weekend with his pace. With him leading the pack in second place, Button however had other ideas and restled the position away from Sebastian, with Hamilton following suit shortly after. Then to really make Vettel’s day, his team mate Webber took no prisoners as he too muscled past to claim fourth place.
After Raikkonen’s dramatic drop off, Lotus Renault’s fortunes were given a boost by Romain Grosjean who finished his first race of the season, after it has to be said a somewhat trying start, and in securing sixth place scored his first ever Grand Prix points.
After all the drama and the celebrations and congratulations for Rosberg and Mercedes, the teams now look towards Bahrain next weekend with probably one thought dominating. What next….?