SHANGAI - Nico Rosberg took his maiden Formula 1 victory with a dominant drive in the Chinese Grand Prix.
The German led from pole position, built a lead and any hopes of challenge ended when McLaren’s Jenson Button was delayed at his final pit stop.
It was Mercedes’ first victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.
A titanic battle for second place ended in favour of Button, who headed team-mate Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was sixth, ahead of the Williams pair of Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado, Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta’s Force India. The result puts Hamilton into the world championship lead, two points ahead of Button. Alonso is third, ahead of Webber, Vettel and Rosberg.
Rosberg said: “Unbelievable feeling, very cool, very happy, very excited. It’s been a long time coming for me and the team also. It’s amazing, and it’s really nice to see how quickly we are progressing, I didn’t expect to be that fast.”
The race was a classic strategy battle between those doing two stops and those doing three. Rosberg and Mercedes chose two, Button and McLaren three, and it appeared set for a close battle to the finish in the final stint between the two until a problem fitting a rear wheel at his final pit stop delayed the Englishman.
Button said: “Before the final stop our race pace was good, especially on the harder tyre, and then the last stop, I stopped on the marks and we had problems with the rear of the car and lost nine to 10 seconds.
“It was a pity because I had four cars in front of me, and I would have had a nice clear track to hunt down Nico.
The problem put Button in a huge scrap for second, stretching initially from Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus in second place back to Paul di Resta’s Force India in 13th, all running in line astern.
A frantic last 10 laps first saw Raikkonen, on a two-stop strategy, drop to the back of the group after running wide as his tyres started to lose grip.
That left Vettel, also on two stops, in second ahead of the two McLarens, with Button ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who did three stops like his team-mate.
Button passed Vettel for second place on lap 50, Hamilton followed him passed four laps later, and Webber took fourth place from his team-mate between the penultimate and last corners on the final lap.