Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Rosberg wins wild Chinese GP

Published:Monday | April 18, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg holds the winner's trophy after the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, in China,yesterday.

SHANGHAI (AP):

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes escaped unscathed from a wild first lap at the Chinese Grand Prix yesterday, and then showed why he's the driver to beat this year in Formula One (F1).

Rosberg started on pole position and led nearly the entire race by a wide margin to extend his perfect start to the season with a third consecutive win and his sixth straight dating back to last season.

He becomes just the fourth driver in F1 history to win six straight races, joining Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Alberto Ascari.

Vettel, who collided with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner of the chaotic opening lap, finished 37.7 seconds behind Rosberg in second place, while Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat used an aggressive race strategy to take third only the second podium of the 21-year-old's career.

36-point lead

Every driver who has started an F1 season with three straight wins has gone on to win the title that year. Rosberg now has a 36-point lead over Mercedes team-mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings, but he's not looking too far ahead yet.

"It's the longest season in F1 history. We have 21 races, so that's 18 to go," Rosberg said. "Of course, I'm happy with the way it's gone and I'm feeling good and the car is there, but I don't want to say more than that.

"Lewis is not many points behind ... and he's as focused and motivated as ever."

It was a weekend to forget for Hamilton, a four-time winner at the Shanghai circuit. First, he got a five-place grid penalty for an early gearbox change and then he was forced to start the race in the back row after an engine problem on Saturday prevented him from setting a time in qualifying.

To make matters worse, he also got tangled up in the first-corner accident between Vettel and Raikkonen yesterday, losing a front wing that brought the first of an extraordinary five pit stops in the race and a seventh-place finish.

creditable second

Vettel worked his way through the field after the collision by running his first 16 laps on super-soft tyres to claim a creditable second.

Raikkonen finished fifth after having been knocked to the back of the field by the collision with Vettel.

The collision came when Kvyat made an aggressive pass on the inside of Vettel, causing the German to swerve and hit Raikkonen on the outside. An angry Vettel fumed on his radio, "Kvyat's attack was suicidal. There was no way he could have made the corner with that speed."

Vettel exchanged angry words with Kvyat after the race, but the Russian was unapologetic.

"It was a risky move, of course," Kvyat said. "But these kinds of moves can bring you a podium, so I'm on the podium, (Vettel's) on the podium, it's fine. I will keep on risking like this and everyone should expect that."