Chinese Grand Prix Results – 14th
Nico Rosberg finally claimed his maiden Formula 1 race victory, and a first win for the modern incarnation of the factory Mercedes team, with a commanding drive in a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen’s two-stopping Lotus held second going into the closing stages, but trying to do half the race on his third set of tyres proved too optimistic, and he tumbled from second to 14th in just a handful of laps.
Vettel, following a similar strategy, was first to pass Raikkonen, and looked like he might salvage second from his qualifying disaster. He could not hold off the McLarens or Webber with their fresher tyres from a three-stop strategy, with Button getting through five laps from the end and Hamilton and Webber doing likewise amid a thrilling tussle over the last two laps. Webber took fourth despite his first pitstop coming as early as lap six, and two trips off the road – one of which featured a wild flight over the Turn 13 kerbs.
While Raikkonen fell back, his team-mate Romain Grosjean did a two-stop plan with a very long middle stint and was able to battle to sixth, ahead of Williams duo Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado.
Classified: Pos--Driver-------Team-----------------------Time 1. Rosberg Mercedes 1h36:26.929 2. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 20.626 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 26.012 4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 27.924 5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 30.483 6. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 31.491 7. Senna Williams-Renault + 34.597 8. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 35.643 9. Alonso Ferrari + 37.256 10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 38.720 11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 41.066 12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 42.273 13. Massa Ferrari + 42.700 14. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 50.500 15. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 51.200 16. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 51.700 17. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:03.100 18. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 19. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 20. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 21. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap 22. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 23. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 3 laps Fastest lap: Kobayashi, 1:39.960 Not classified/retirements: Driver--------Team--------------------On lap Schumacher Mercedes 16 World Championship standings, round 3: Drivers:--------------------Constructors: 1. Hamilton 45 1. McLaren-Mercedes 88 2. Button 43 2. Red Bull-Renault 64 3. Alonso 37 3. Ferrari 37 4. Webber 36 4. Sauber-Ferrari 31 5. Vettel 28 5. Mercedes 26 6. Rosberg 25 6. Lotus-Renault 24 7. Perez 22 7. Williams-Renault 18 8. Raikkonen 16 8. Force India-Mercedes 9 9. Senna 14 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Kobayashi 9 11. Grosjean 8 12. Di Resta 7 13. Vergne 4 14. Maldonado 4 15. Ricciardo 2 16. Hulkenberg 2 17. Schumacher 1
Kimi Räikkönen – 14th: “We tried to run two stops as it looked to be the fastest strategy and up until the last ten laps it was looking good, but we ran out of tyre performance at the end. I was stuck behind Felipe (Massa) for quite a while and couldn’t get past as I wasn’t fast enough in the right parts of the track to make a move. Even if I’d got past I don’t think it would have made the greatest amount of difference to the final result. We had good pace in the race, we tried a different strategy and it didn’t pay off today; it’s as simple as that.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It is getting more frustrating for us as we are clearly very close to achieving a very good result. Twelve laps before the end of today’s race we had one car in P2 and one car in P5 with no more pit stops to go. Unfortunately, we were a little bit too aggressive with our strategy. As soon as we understood some cars were doing three stops it was clear there was potential for us to finish on the podium, but we were not expecting the tyre wear to be as high as it was. For Romain the strategy worked; for Kimi it did not. The positives from this weekend are that we continue to show good qualifying and race pace with the E20, and we were capable of fighting for a podium finish with Kimi. Also, it was a very good first full race for Romain. One slow stop and one mistake when fighting with Mark (Webber) for position meaning he ran on the marbles cost him two positions. He recovered very well from this and his pace was very consistent.”
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: “Ten laps before the end of the race, Kimi’s tyres were nearing the end of their life and unfortunately he got on the marbles when Sebastian (Vettel) passed. That was the end of his race effectively as he lost ten places over the course of a lap. We’ll dissect the data and see if a three stop would have been better for us, but everything before the race suggested a two-stop was the way to go, and this approach benefitted Romain. Without the gamble we took with Kimi we wouldn’t have been running in second position so that was the risk we took. I’m happy for Romain to finish his first race of the season. To go from tenth to sixth – racing with the cars of the calibre he was – showed a measured performance so it looks good for the future. We’ve learn a lot this weekend and hopefully we head to Bahrain with an improved car and better understanding of this year’s tyres.”
Videos: Race start, onboard with Kimi, Boullier comments