SHANGHAI, China, April 15 – Mercedes savoured a “historic” moment on Sunday in China after Nico Rosberg blitzed his way to his maiden win at the 111th attempt and the first for the team since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.
The German took the chequered flag with a margin of over 20 seconds from the second-placed McLaren of Jenson Button, off-setting the disappointing retirement of team-mate Michael Schumacher, forced out after a pit-lane blunder.
Rosberg’s confident display also comes 111 years after Mercedes’ first win, at the 1901 Nice Speedweeks.
The 24-year-old, who pumped his fists as he crossed the finishing line and shouted “easy! easy!”, said when at least a little of the emotion had died down: “This is a very special moment for me. The whole weekend went perfectly.
“My first pole position, now my first win in Formula One — it really is fantastic. But it’s not only this; it’s the first win for the new Silver Arrow and for this great team. That is really special for me.”
He added: “I will never forget this race, and the last 20 laps felt as long as if I was racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours! But then crossing the line was so intense.
“We will enjoy this success, but our feet are still on the ground.
“We are still not where we want to be, we are still working hard to understand the car and the tyres in all conditions, and we will keep pushing to improve our race pace even further.”
Seven-time world champion Schumacher, who appeared more disappointed than angry after he had to bow out in second place early on, said: “First of all, congratulations to the whole team, to Mercedes-Benz and of course to Nico, who achieved a perfect victory from start to finish.
“He did a great job today and yesterday, and I am happy for him.”
Mercedes’ success in Shanghai is in stark contrast to last season, when they limped to fourth in the constructors’ championship and never looked capable of threatening Red Bull and McLaren.
Their innovate but controversial “W-duct” rear wing, which boosts straight-line speed, was cleared as legal by race stewards in the build-up to the race, and the car now looks genuinely competitive.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes’ highly respected team principal, called it “a truly special and historic day”.
“I am so delighted for Nico, he has deserved to take his first victory several times, and has now done so by driving a perfectly judged race from pole position,” he said.
“I am excited to see how he develops now he has that win under his belt.”
He added: “We are proud to deliver the first victory for a works Silver Arrow car in 57 years.
“I was just one year old when Juan Manuel Fangio won in Monza in 1955, but this victory is something I will remember, and savour, for a very long time indeed.”