For the first time since 1955, Mercedes filled the front row. Nico Rosberg starts in 1st with a 1.35.121 lap in Qualifying with his team-mate Michael Schumacher in 2nd as Lewis Hamilton, who had qualified 2nd, was given a 5-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox.
Nico got clean off the line, much to everyone’s surprise who expected both Mercedes’ to be swamped into the 1st corner. However, both Nico and Michael Schumacher had kept their starting position. Behind them, Button started well from 5th, jumping to 3rd while Mark Webber dropped two places to 8th and team-mate Sebastian Vettel lost four places off the line in an uncharacteristic mistake.
Heikki Kovalainen had a good start and was nearly passed Vettel when Bruno Senna nudged the back of Felipe Massa into turn one before careering across the track into the path of Pastor Maldonado who had to go wide off the corner to avoid a collision. Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso started from his pit box after he changed the body work on the car after Qualifying yesterday. Meanwhile at the back of the grid, Pedro De La Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan in the Hispania’s had an awful start and were 10-12 seconds behind the cars ahead, by the first corner.
On lap 13, Schumacher pitted for new tyre’s from second. He had a fast stop as usual but an error in the pit lights had seen the German driving out of the pits without his right front wheel being secured to the car. As a result he had to pull over in Turn 3 and make his way back to the pits to watch his team-mates progress.
The on-track action died down for a while with a few passes, mostly on the Force India’s who seemed to have resigned from the race, and Lewis Hamilton very nearly colliding with his old rival, Felipe Massa, as he went to pass him for P12. Several pit stops were also made but all the attention was on Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button, trying to decide if Button could pull up a big enough gap to make sure he comes out of the pits ahead of Rosberg.
The answer was no. Jenson was 12 seconds ahead of Rosberg going into the pits, a usual pit stop taking about 20 seconds. However, Jenson’s rear left tyre failed to come off the car and the Mechanic’s who had dropped the car off the ‘Jack’s’ to release him, had to hoist him back up so they could get the tyre on. All in all, Button’s pit stop was 11 seconds compared to the usual 3 seconds. As if this wasn’t bad enough, When Jenson Button rejoined, he had a very close group of Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber and Bruno Senna ahead of him and then a gap of 25 seconds to Nico Rosberg. Button’s chance of winning had gone.
Over the next 15 laps, some of the best wheel to wheel racing in a few years took place. Heikki Kovalainen pitted and had a problem with his left rear tyre leading him to cruise slowly around the track to get back to the pits, while Mark Webber went wide coming onto the back straight and launched himself into the air. No, it was nothing like his nerve-racking flip in Valencia but for a tall driver like Mark who’s spine would be just millimetres off the ground, it definitely hurt! Nevertheless, the tough Aussie kept going.
Mark caught and passed Bruno Senna for P6 while Felipe Massa pitted from 2nd promoting Raikkonen to 2nd. Hamilton sweeps past Pastor Maldonado for P8 and Fernando Alonso goes wheel to wheel with the Venezuelan. The Spaniard lost grip on the ‘Marbles’ and went off the track, nearly collecting Sergio Perez as he rejoined the track. Next up is Romain Grosjean who runs wide at the same place as Fernando Alonso, while under pressure from Webber, rejoining in P8.
Alonso passes Perez for P10 as Rosberg, some 25 seconds ahead of P2 man Raikkonen, is told to slow down and mind his tyre’s. A slow Raikkonen is holding up Vettel, Button, Hamilton, Webber, Senna, Maldonado, Grosjean, Kobayashi and Alonso. In this long train of cars, Webber and Hamilton are having a fierce battle for P5, Hamilton the eventual Victor as Webber runs wide.
Raikkonen makes a mistake, allowing Vettel and Button through followed by Hamilton in turn 14 and Webber in turn 16. Raikkonen gets really under pressure as he looses all his grip and is swamped by the drivers behind. Grosjean, Senna, Maldonado, Alonso, Kobayshi, Perez, Di Resta and Massa all get passed the Finn in the next two laps. In two laps, Raikkonen has lost 12 places.
Kobayshi and Perez make contact on the back straight as Kobayashi attempts a successful overtaking manoeuvre. Button passes Vettel for P2 and is followed by Hamilton a lap later. Now team-mate Webber has his eyes on Vettel. He passes Vettel at the Hairpin at the end of the straight. Vettel tries to out drag him but its useless as Webber holds his ground and forces Vettel off the line.
And after 57 years Mercedes win the race! Nico Rosberg comes across the line with his hands in the air, 20.6 seconds ahead of Button in P2 to secure his first ever Grand Prix win, in his 111th Grand Prix.
There was only one retirement from the race, Michael Schumacher and he was on hand to celebrate with the Mercedes mechanics in the Garage as Rosberg crossed the line while a very emotional Norbert Haug was on the podium to collect Mercedes’ Constructors Trophy.
1. Nico Rosberg
2. Jenson Button
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Mark Webber
5. Sebastian Vettel
6. Romain Grosjean
7. Bruno Senna
8. Pastor Maldonado
9. Fernando Alonso
10. Kamui Kobayashi
11. Sergio Perez
12. Paul Di Resta
13. Felipe Massa
14. Kimi Raikkonen
15. Nico Hulkenberg
16. Jean-Eric Vergne
17. Daniel Ricciardo
18. Vitaly Petrov
19. Timo Glock
20. Charles Pic
21. Pedro De La Rosa
22. Narain Karthikeyan
23. Heikki Kovalainen
Michael Schumacher – Pit-Stop error