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F1: ROSBERG DOMINATES in Shanghai

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Nico seals 100th Silver Arrows F1 win in Shanghai

If ever the phrase ‘leaving the competition in the dust’ needed an example, then surely Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix was it. Continuing his epic 100% strike rate, with a third consecutive win of the year; the German racer has now pulled a 36-point lead over Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One teammate Lewis Hamilton.

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In fact if you take a look at the F1 record books, any driver that has gained this much of an advantage in the points standings at this early stage of the championship, has gone on to win the drivers’ title.

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Bar a brief tussle at the start where Nico temporarily lost track position to Daniel Ricciardo, the 31-year-old German reigned supreme on the blacktop in Shanghai. A two stop strategy, switching between Pirelli’s soft and medium compound, saw Nico boost his Silver Arrow across the finish line with a near empiric 37.7 second win.

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“Firstly it’s been a fantastic few days for me here in China. The fans have been amazing from the moment I arrived. They’re so enthusiastic, which gives us drivers a very special feeling,” explained Nico. “Then, racing wise, it was an almost perfect weekend. Only the start could have been better – but luckily I was able to pass Daniel later on the straight and from then on I could build up a gap.

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“I must say, I’ve never had a better balance in my car than I had today. It was really perfect, so a big thanks to everyone who helped me achieve that. I also want to thank all the women in my life – my wife, my daughter and my mother. Their support is unbelievable and that’s really what makes it possible for me to be doing what I’m doing. I’m a very happy man today and, after three races I can be really pleased about how my season has gone so far. But it’s a very long year ahead and there’s a lot of points still on the table, so I’m not losing my focus.”

That’s not to say Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t have been right with him, if he had joined Nico on the front row. Heading into the Chinese Grand Prix, Lewis was already faced with a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change. However after suffering a technical problem with the Energy Recovery System (ERS) during qualifying, Lewis was unable to record a single timed lap in Q1, and had to start from the back of the grid.

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Determined to replicate his charge to the podium from the back of the field at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis made a storming start taking five places in turn one alone. Unfortunately disaster then struck again as the triple world champion ran over a piece of debris, from an earlier incident between Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat. Ricocheting of Lewis F1 W07, the debris damaged the bib and leading edge of the floor, resulting in a loss of down force.

“It’s definitely been a difficult weekend,” said Lewis. “I got a good start – but it’s always tricky being at the back and trying not to get caught up in the domino effect of any contact at the first corner. I tried to avoid whatever happened in front of me but I just got tangled up in it. It was just a bit unfortunate, really. From there it was always going to be a battle – but I had a lot of fun fighting back through! There were plenty of overtakes, from what I can remember!

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“I gave it everything I had and P7 was about the limit. There was nothing left in the tyres at the end and, although it’s pretty good for overtaking here, I had quite a lot of damage to the car which made it difficult to get close on the brakes. From what I could feel there was definitely some aero loss and possible suspension damage too, as the car seemed to be flexing all over the place. But that’s racing – it happens sometimes and at least I still managed to get a few points on the board. It’s a pretty big hit points-wise today – but I’ll just have to do what I can to make it up over the next few races. Onwards and upwards…”

The battle continues in just over a fortnight’s time in Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix on May the 1st. Remember to check back with us to find out how it all goes down.

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