Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

China analysis - Mercedes make the breakthrough 16 Apr 2012

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1, celebrates his maiden with Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedesamg F1 Team Principal and the Mercedes Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 crosses the line to win the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Michael Schumacher pulls away from his stop but a wheel is not properly attached and the Mercedes subsequently pulls off the track on Lap 13 to retire Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams Renault FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05, leads Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India VJM05 battles with Timo Glock (GER) Marussia MR01 and Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012

When Mercedes took over Brawn - then reigning champions - ahead of the 2010 season, they probably didn’t expect to have to wait quite so long for a win. The waiting at last paid off on Sunday, as Nico Rosberg - in his 111th Grand Prix - finally scored the victory everyone knew he was capable of. More encouraging still for Ross Brawn’s squad, the nature of his triumph suggested that in their innovative W03 car, they may now have a genuine title contender. We take a team-by-team look at the China form book…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, P1
Michael Schumacher, retired lap 13, loose wheel

You would never have put money on Nico Rosberg and Mercedes winning what was always going to be a tyre race, but they didn’t just win but dominated. The German thus became only the second son of a world champion to win a Grand Prix, and scored Mercedes’ first victory in the team’s current form and the Silver Arrows’ first since Fangio won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza back in 1955. It was a superb and unexpected result that confirmed Ross Brawn’s claim that they had got to the bottom of their tyre wear issues from Australia and Malaysia.

It was disappointing that Schumacher retired when a wheel was incorrectly fitted in his first pit stop (for which the team were later fined for an unsafe release from the pit lane), as he would have challenged Rosberg strongly in a likely Mercedes 1-2. The success, which owed something to the team’s unique DRS front and rear wing system which was declared legal by the FIA over the weekend after a protest from Lotus, might well signal a consistent challenge for the title for the team in 2012.

McLaren
Jenson Button, P2
Lewis Hamilton, P3

Button was delayed 6.5s in his final stop by a rear-wheel problem, and that put him back out in the middle of the second-place train rather than ahead of it. It’s debatable whether he might have been able to close down Rosberg without that. Hamilton rued the gearbox change that dropped him from second on the grid to seventh for the start, and said without that he could have done better than his third place - his third of the year. But his consistency puts him at the top of the drivers’ points table, two ahead of Button, as McLaren extended their constructors’ lead.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P4
Sebastian Vettel, P5

Three races in, and Red Bull have yet to win. Webber’s chances looked to have taken a dive when he was the first to stop, as early as the sixth lap, to switch from the soft Pirellis to the mediums, but it was a great strategy. Despite a near-miss repeat of his Valencian backflip of 2010 when he wheelied his RB8 over the Turn 13 kerb on one lap, the Australian made the most of a three-stop strategy to snatch fourth from Vettel on the 54th lap. The world champion went for a two stopper in his RB8, which was of course still equipped with the old exhaust system after his disappointing qualifying, and was running second until the 52nd lap when his tyres just went past their best and he fell prey first to Button, then Hamilton and, finally, Webber.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, P6
Kimi Raikkonen, P14

Raikkonen was right in the thick of the fight for the podium and was running second for a long time before his extended final stint took its toll on his tyres and saw him plunge suddenly from the runner-up slot to an unhappy 14th. Grosjean was also right in the fight and brought his E20 home a great sixth to score his first world championship points in style.

Williams
Bruno Senna, P7
Pastor Maldonado, P8

On the eve of Sir Frank Williams’ 70th birthday his drivers put in great performances to take seventh and eighth places right in the thick of the second-place train, and an excellent haul of 10 points. Senna’s performance, in particular, underlined his strong run in the previous race in Malaysia, while Maldonado kept his cool for his first points of the year. The Venezuelan also set the fourth-fastest race lap.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P9
Felipe Massa, P13

Ferrari’s lack of top speed kept Alonso and Massa in the thick of the traffic for the whole race, as both struggled unsuccessfully to break free. That in turn hurt the tyres, so it was a vicious circle. Ninth, behind the Williams, was the best Alonso could do, but while Massa was only 13th there were signs that he was making progress in his personal battle with a confusing car. His best race lap, though only 14th fastest, was only a tenth off Alonso’s.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P10
Sergio Perez, P11

Sauber had a brutally disappointing day which saw Kobayashi fade immediately from his third place on the grid thanks to a slow launch. He was overtaken by Perez, who led again briefly and looked racey on the soft Pirellis. But both cars lost performance on the mediums, and a clutch problem further delayed the Mexican in each of his two stops.

Force India
Paul di Resta, P12
Nico Hulkenberg, P15

Force India had a disappointing race, and Di Resta said he just lacked the sheer pace to get himself into the thick of the fight for points. Hulkenberg made a poor start with too much wheelspin, and picked up some debris damage to his front wing on the opening lap. That gave him massive understeer until the nose was changed at the first stop, and cost him any chance of fighting for a decent result.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, P16
Daniel Ricciardo, P17

Vergne started from the pit lane after the team reverted to a Melbourne/Sepang set-up on his car. The French rookie drove like a demon to make up places and to set the second-fastest race lap, but Ricciardo had a tough opening stint and confirmed that here the STR7 basically lacked pace.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, P18
Heikki Kovalainen, P23

Petrov said he got the best from his car and was pleased to avoid being lapped until the very last lap, since it demonstrated the progress the team are making. Kovalainen scrapped enthusiastically with him, but was later delayed by an undisclosed problem with the right rear wheel.

Marussia
Timo Glock, P19
Charles Pic, P20

The team’s third two-car finish of 2012 kept them in 10th place overall, and they were also boosted by another superb performance by rookie Pic who pushed experienced team mate Glock all the way to finish just three-tenths of a second behind. Further underlining the quiet progress being made here, they weren’t far behind Petrov’s Caterham.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, P21
Narain Karthikeyan, P22

HRT were very happy to finish the race, make progress and have De la Rosa only a lap down in a hard-fought race.

For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.