China GP 2012

This is the type of race you should record and have on your person to show those who label Formula One as ‘boring’, and ‘just cars going around in circles’ (the latter of course being geometrically inaccurate). Lines of cars battling over positions lap after lap, overtaking consistently and more than enough comparisons to the feeder series to make you feel nostalgic. Apart from one certain driver the grid was split into three distinct groups for the duration of the race; podium gladiators, midfield boxers and back markers, with the cameras focusing on the first two groups Nico Rosberg has little to reflect back on from his stunning Sunday drive (no cucumber here!), but I’m sure today won’t be soon forgotten. Despite threats of showers at the beginning of the weekend, the weather played ball but kept the track cool. It may have taken a while to get going, but wind up Formula One and watch it go.

Super Seven Moments of the Chinese GP

1. About time!

A noticeable tide of questions were being laid at Rosberg’s feet this season, certainly antagonised by the poor start Mercedes has made, about his performance so far this year. Before touching down in China the team had one paltry point to their name, and that was at the hand of a lucky Schumacher, so when he stuck his silver arrow on pole with an almighty lap a cautious note was understandable. Rosberg’s first pole position then resulted in a simply superb start, blasting off the line he left everyone in the smog choking, spluttering, and utterly unable to make a dent of his 20+ second lead he finished on. This is the way to take your first win, dominant lap times and superior tyre management. And let’s not forget, Rosberg made an impression here last year as was on course for a podium, only a miscalculation on fuel let him down. So here’s to you Mr Rosberg, race winner. And with this being the first Mercedes win since Fangio in 1955 are more on the horizon?

2. Riding the Bull

As he proved today when after he mounted a kerb the front of his car dramatically flipped up before thankfully coming back down to earth (cue Valencia flashbacks). It is well known that this Red Bull isn’t as cooperative as the previous championship winning incarnations, so in fact this wasn’t a mistake it was Webber taking the bucking bronco by the scruff of the neck and riding it hard through the field. Although last year he took the car from 18th to 3rd he wasn’t able to make it to the podium this time around, however that didn’t stop him getting one over on Vettel on lap 54. You beauty.

3. Not quite the same for Sauber

Sauber have certainly made their mark on this season, punching above their weight at the moment could signify a shift in classification in the future but consistency is key to the jump. Kobayashi qualified fantastically but the pace was too hot up the front for the car, Perez held his nerve in front of Alonso and provided further evidence that he’s a bit of a whizz even on dying tyres. Where they were mixing it up with the natural front runners last time out, this time Kobayashi took a single point for his team.

4. Overtaking Overload

If you like overtaking then this was a classic race, although now drivers have DRS and KERS to help them out the former didn’t have a huge impact which left the action focused elsewhere. Thanks in part to the importance of tyre strategy, the FOM graphics could barely keep up with the level of position change amongst the cars. Perez, Grosjean and Maldonado weren’t afraid of risking it in the closing laps, despite the last two having yet to finish a race, three abreast into the hairpin on lap 46 the Mexican lost out as the pair battled on.

5. Rubber

Simple as that really, or rather compound rubber-ish stuff according to Sky’s technical correspondent Ted Kravitz. It was all about tyre management, strategy and choice in China. Those who could keep them sweet were laughing, it’s probably just Rosberg in that group then as he glided in and out of the pits without any fuss. Webber kick started the mass pit stopping when he switched from soft to medium early on, dropping back into a lowly 20th he battled back (like others) through the field after each subsequent stop.

6. All aboard the Formula One train

If you like your racing close then this race was for you, at one point nine cars were lined up behind each other as they fought hard for the remaining spots on the podium, tonnes of slipstreaming that hawked back to the classic era of Formula One. Magic.

7. Finding the balance

You can’t have it all, Rosberg got his own way this weekend in what we now call a ‘Vettelian’ fashion, but others didn’t despite what the results tell you. Button was in line to push the eventual winner all the way to the end however a long time in the pits ruined his day. A win wasn’t guaranteed, but it was possible. Hamilton and Webber kept it achingly consistent with third and fourth respectively for the third consecutive race. His qualifying was a bust, not even making it into Q3, but Vettel hauled himself into fifth place with a solid drive, although he had to spend significant time in traffic something we’re not used to seeing him in. Schumacher was another who suffered in the pits (Vergne started the race there and Kovalainen reported both of his stops were tough), the lights turned green on his electronic lollipop but his front right wasn’t secured stopping at turn six his race finish on lap 12. Along with a return to disappointing form for Ferrari, Raikkonen’s tyre strategy saw him dramatically fall back from second to fourteenth in the closing stages.

Awesome-o-meter

About as close as we’ll see with DRS and KERS added anyway! Loads of overtaking, slipstreaming, comparisons to feeders series, tight strategy, racing, heart stopping moments. And of course seeing the Rosberg name on top of the podium once more, thankfully for a race that was looking to be forgotten under a cloud of debate regarding Bahrain, one German and his fairytale ending to a 111 race dry streak brought it back to the racing.

Race Stats

Qualifying Rosberg Hamilton Schumacher
Pole N Rosberg 1:35.121 (Mercedes)
Laps 56
Weather Dry and cool
Safety Car None
Results 1. Rosberg Mercedes 1:36:26.929
2. Button McLaren 1:36:47.555
3. Hamilton McLaren 1:36:52.941
Fastest Lap Kobayashi Sauber 1:39.960
Retirements Schumacher Mercedes [12] Wheel
Penalties Schumacher Unsafe pit release €5000 fine
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