Nico Rosberg revs up F1 title charge
Nico Rosberg has warned his breakthrough victory is sure to be the first of many after snapping a 110-race drought in emphatic style at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Many questioned whether the Mercedes man would ever break his duck following six unsuccessful years in the big time.
But having stormed to a first ever pole on Saturday, the German controlled the race from start to finish, blitzing the field to finish 20 seconds ahead of McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, whose third straight third place catapulted him to the top of the standings. And Rosberg was adamant his maiden triumph has opened the floodgates for a serious tilt at the title.
“The whole weekend has gone fantastically,” the 26-year-old said. “It was all about managing the tyres and it all went well.
“It’s great how we are moving forward so fast now. The team should get used to it (celebrating) now because there will be more to come.” Rosberg has long been seen as a potential star, yet four third-place finishes were all he had to show for prior to yesterday’s chequered flag.
Asked if he had ever doubted he would reach the milestone, the former Williams racer added: “No, I was convinced that my time would come when the car is ready. And today was the day. Niki [Lauda] just said, from now on winning gets easy. So if that’s the case I’ll take it - he must know!”
One rival who refused to doubt Rosberg is 2009 world champion Button, who also took more than 100 Grands Prix for his first victory.
“I’m sure this won’t be Nico’s first and last win,” he said. “[Mercedes] seem to be very fast this year and Nico hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. I think we’ll have a battle on our hands, which is good to see.”
Any chances the Briton had of reining in the rampant Rosberg were dashed following an error in his final pit stop. But the 32-year-old was just as happy to hold on for second place.
“All in all it was a fun day. I really enjoyed it, some good overtaking out there and to come away with some good points is great,” Button added. Rosberg’s achievement was doubled given it was Mercedes’ first Grand Prix success since 1955.
However, it wasn’t all good news for the German outfit with Michael Schumacher forced to retire when a mistake during his first stop meant his front-right tyre wasn’t attached properly.
The F1 great was in second when the incident occurred and on track for his best finish since his return in 2010. However, he refused to blame his blundering crew member, saying: “I feel a bit sad for one of our boys, but I will hug him later on and calm him down.”