The one point that Formula One racing's detractors dwell on more than others is the monotony. How a gaggle of high-revving, state-of-the-art race cars speeding around circuits in some of the most exotic locales in the world could be considered monotonous, of course, would leave others scratching their heads, but that's what the haters hate most. And not entirely without reason. After all, each championship season tends to be dominated by one driver or another.

2008 saw Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Felipe Massa of Ferrari battle it out for the title until the very last turn of the the very last lap of the very last race of the season, but for many years before and every year since it's been utter domination: five years of Michael Schumacher, two of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, Jenson Button in 2009 and two years of Sebastian Vettel that bring us up to the present.

The question on every race fan's mind, then, is whether this year would again feature a single-team domination or whether we'd see another driver – or drivers – taking the lead. Heading out to Shanghai for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, only two races had already been decided, and each was won by a different man driving for a different team, and neither had won from pole. Would this round prove any different? Keep reading to find out.
2012 Chinese Grand Prix


We had at least part of the answer when qualifying was completed on Sunday as Nico Rosberg took his first pole position. The new wing on his Mercedes turned out to make the difference as his elder wingman Michael Schumacher qualified third – bumped up to second after Lewis Hamilton was penalized five grid positions for an unscheduled gearbox change – for the first all-Mercedes front row since 1955.

Equally surprising was the sight of Kamui Kobayashi of the Sauber team in third place on the grid. He was followed by Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Jenson Button (McLaren), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus). Defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who took the bulk of pole positions last season, could muster no better than eleventh, with onetime frontrunner Felipe Massa behind him in twelfth.

Having emerged from the Brawn GP team that took both titles in 2009, staffed by top talents and flush with fresh capital, the Mercedes AMG team is one that deserves to be performing better than it has, but would Rosberg and Schumacher be able to hold it together from their front-row start to the checkered flag?

2012 Chinese Grand Prix2012 Chinese Grand Prix
2012 Chinese Grand Prix2012 Chinese Grand Prix

The Silver Arrows lead the field off the line as Schumacher hounded his younger teammate. Sauber, however, suffered a disappointing start on the promise of its qualifying strength as Kobayashi dropped from third to fifth behind Button and Raikkonen while Perez succumbed to a charging Hamilton.

Otherwise it was a clean start to the race until Lap 12 when Schumacher went in to swap rubber. A pit-crew error saw a rear tire improperly affixed, which then separated and ended the multiple champion's race, leaving Rosberg to hold out in the lead on his own. And so he did, pulling further and further away from the rest of the field with clean air and an empty track in front and no one to fend off behind.

For much of the race Raikkonen was aptly showing that he hadn't forgotten his form while playing around in the WRC and NASCAR during his sabbatical from F1, holding on to second place for much of the race. But Lotus relied on his tires holding up for too long on a track that's notoriously difficult on rubber compounds, and with less than ten laps to go he lost it, dropping down from second to twelfth within two laps.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

Behind him awaited an eager train of frontrunners who eagerly pounced on the opportunity to advance to the podium. Sebastian Vettel moved up to second from eleventh on the grid, followed by Button, Hamilton and Webber... each of whom passed the defending double champion in turn in the closing laps.

And so they crossed the finish line, Rosberg claiming his first win – and the first for Mercedes since withdrawing its last factory team from the sport way back in the 1950s. Button took second place, over twenty seconds adrift of the lead and five seconds ahead of his team-mate Hamilton to make it an all-Merc-powered podium. Webber and Vettel took fourth and fifth, followed by an impressive Romain Grosjean for Lotus. Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado took seventh and eighth for Williams, followed by Alonso and Kobayashi for the final points.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

The results, three rounds into the championship, leave Hamilton still in the lead with 45 points to Button's 43, followed by Fernando Alonso in third with 37. McLaren therefore leads the constructors' standings with 88 points to Red Bull's 64, Ferrari's 37, Sauber's 31, Mercedes' 26 and Lotus' 24. The circus sails next for a still-controversial Bahrain, where anti-government protestors have sparked a debate over the political morality of the race scheduled for next weekend.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      Narom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Come on engadget, get the basic facts right. "2008 saw Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Felipe Massa of Ferrari battle it out for the title until the very last turn of the the very last lap of the very last race of the season, but for many years before and every year since it's been utter domination: five years of Michael Schumacher, two of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, Jenson Button in 2009 and two years of Sebastian Vettel that bring us up to the present." 2006 Alonso won the title from Schumi at the last race of the season. 2007, Kimi won by a solitary point decided at the last race of the season. 2008 as you say. 2009 Jenson won the title at only the second to last race of the season and by only 9 points. 2010 Seb won it by 4 points, after winning the last race of the season to lead the championship for the first time of the season. Four drivers still had a chance of winning the title going into the last race. Before the 2011 season, you have to go back to 2005 when Alonso won with 2 races still to go but on the olds points system.
        Shane
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Narom
        Have to agree, apart from 2011 the title has been contested fiercely. Even Brawn's dominance in 2009 waned as the season went on, they were desperately trying to hold onto the championship as McLaren and Ferrari came to the fore.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Narom
        [blocked]
      Veegee
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is going to be one of the best F1 seasons ever. 3 races 3 winners.
      Zoidberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      I enjoyed how Perez wouldn't let Hamilton pass him until he had to pit. Awsom race.
      Ziptron
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 2010 championship was decided amongst four drivers at the last race of the season. How was that dull?
        Stephen Hopkinson
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ziptron
        Not to mention 2005, 2007 (top three drivers in the championship separated by a point!) and 2009.
      TokyoRemix
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nico needed a win, and I can't say I don't like the variety on the podium this year. And who am I kidding? Win or not, McLaren has 1-2 in the drivers and the top spot in the constructors' standings! Couldn't ask for much more.
      Tom Winch
      • 2 Years Ago
      "After all, each championship season tends to be dominated by one driver or another." "2008 saw Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Felipe Massa of Ferrari battle it out for the title until the very last turn of the the very last lap of the very last race of the season, but for many years before and every year since it's been utter domination: five years of Michael Schumacher, two of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, Jenson Button in 2009 and two years of Sebastian Vettel that bring us up to the present." What? Last year Vettel won in a walk, but in 2010 there were still four drivers in contention for the championship going into the last race. Vettel never led the 2010 championship at any time during the entire season until he won that last race in Abu Dhabi. In 2009, Brawn won early in the season, but their funding dried up and they couldn't keep developing the car through the season and almost had it slip away as Vettel mounted a huge charge to catch them. 2008 was the aforementioned Massa/Hamilton duel that went undecided until the last turn of the last lap of the last race of the season. In 2007, Kimi Raikkonen was in third place in the championship, 17 points behind Hamilton going into the last two races of the season and it took a DNF by Hamilton in China along with Kimi winning those last two races to decide the championship. And don't forget that Alonso was fighting the whole time also, finishing tied in points with Hamilton, although classified third by having fewer victories than Lewis. In 2006 Schumacher was ahead of Alonso going into the last two races of the season. Schumacher dnf'd in one and finished 4th in the last race to Alonso's 1st and 2nd place finishes in the last two races. Both drivers had seven wins. In 2005, Alonso was able to win the championship convincingly, but it was no walk. Raikkonen, driving for McLaren, won seven races, the same as Alonso, but was let down by reliability issues, with 3 DNF's to Alonso's 1 DNF, which allowed Alonso to win by 21 points over Kimi, but it was not an easy victory. With the exception of Vettel's second championship last season, one team has not really dominated since Ferrari with Michael Schumacher, 2000-2005.
      Redline
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a great and entertaining race. The fight in mid pack was nuts.
      Ziptron
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 2010 championship was decided between 4 drivers at the last race of the season. How was that dull?
      New Shel
      • 2 Years Ago
      Second was just 20 seconds behind? Is this the closest F1 race, ever?
      Tweak589
      • 2 Years Ago
      Correction to the article, Schumacher's pit stop error was the right front tire, not right rear.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      ack154
      • 2 Years Ago
      Schumacher's problem tire was actually the right front, not anything on the rear. You could see in the replays, the wheel gun man was waving around as they released him.
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