Nico Rosberg scored a pair of career firsts after 110 races and Greg Biffle returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2010 as Formula 1 and NASCAR returned to action after two-week breaks.
Jubilation reigned atop the Formula 1 podium after the today’s Chinese Grand Prix for Mercedes pilot Nico Rosberg. The 26-year-old German won his first-ever grand prix race after starting the weekend’s events with his first-ever pole position. To say Rosberg was ecstatic would be understating the obvious.
“Well, it’s an unbelievable feeling: very, very cool. I’m very happy, very excited. It’s been a long time coming for me,” Rosberg said in the post-race interview. “I didn’t expect to be that fast today. I expected that we had a good chance to be in front, but I was very happy today with the pace I was able to go in the race.”
The win offers hope for the Mercedes team, which has been struggling with their cars so far this season and suffering in particular from a breakdown in tire wear. Rosberg was happy neither was an issue in Shanghai.
“Well, it’s never perfect but it definitely felt very good out there,” he said. “It’s never easy, especially taking care of the tires was a big difficulty and a big challenger today because there was a lot of tire wear, but it worked out well.”
Rosberg, whose father Keke was F1 world champion in 1982, was joined on the podium by the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
Formula 1 now turns its attention to the Middle East where, among continuing tension and rising speculation, the Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to go next weekend (April 22). Despite calls for the race to be cancelled for the second consecutive year, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) sanctioned the race. In a statement issued on April 13, Formula 1’s governing body said that “Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.”
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been adamant the race will go on and made his emphatic point on Thursday. He is quoted by BBC Sport as saying, “The race is on the calendar."
Going in to Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 in Texas, Greg Biffle had finished in the top five in three of six NASCAR Sprint Cup races and was happy how the 2012 season was progressing. But he couldn’t quite displace the fact that he hadn’t driven into victory lane in 49 races. All that changed Saturday night.
“To win like this and put a bunch of ground on the guys, all the cars behind us, that certainly makes a statement, I think, for all the people that were wondering if this was kind of a fluke that we were still leading the points this far in,” said Biffle, adding that he was focused on the checkered flag at the end of the day. “I was driving my heart out. I was doing all I could do. But you know what, I've been doing this deal a long time, and what kept me going or what keeps your spirit up is when you ran good. ... Eventually, you're going to win again.”
Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin finished second and third respectively.
Next on the Sprint Cup schedule is the STP 400, on April 22 in Kansas.