April 15, 2012
So, Nico proved that the Mercedes certainly can race. On his impressive debut victory he lead from start to finish, while for us, again the RB8 battled strongly among an ever tightening group of top contenders.
As is usual this season the podium bore little resemblance to form or precedence. But Mark remained Mr Consistent, securing his third fourth position from three races - after an epic battle for all concerned behind Herr Rosberg.
Neither of our drivers had particularly stellar starts, but what they both demonstrated (right up to their final two wheel-to-wheel laps) was tenacity and an inability to throw in the towel, even when the odds are stacked.
From our grid positions (5th and 11th) the final fourth and fifth places were a good recovery, especially when you consider we were back to 8th and 15th on the first lap. Aggressive strategies for both (Mark coming in early, Seb on a two-stopper) helped their climb. The shame was that the harsh Shanghai circuit took quite the toll it did on Sebastian’s final set of tyres.
But it was classic grand prix racing. It had everything bar collision. It looked certain to be a Mercedes one-two before a wheel nut malfunction for Michael put him out of contention and that left the two Red Bull Racing cars, the two McLarens, Kimi Raikkonen and even the Saubers battling things out for the final podium spots. It was tight, well-fought and thrilling spectacle - including a heart-stopping moment when it looked like Webber was on a return flight to Valencia two years ago...
And credit to our boys. From that less than perfect start a combination of sharp strategy, slick stops and sterling driving meant we remained very much in contention - including the nail-biting final chapter when they were battling each other.
As Christian said post-race: “That was a very busy and action packed race. Our race pace was pretty strong and it was a good haul of points. Congratulations to Nico Rosberg and to Mercedes on their Grand Prix victory.”
So we leave China having learned a lot about the cars, a bit more about Mercedes’ race pace and had our previous suspicion confirmed.
This is going to be one long, fascinating Formula One season.