• Chinese Grand Prix

Driver by driver run-down

ESPNF1 Staff
April 15, 2012
The field remained closley matched in a battle for the points throughout the race © Getty Images
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Nico Rosberg - 1st
The maiden victory is often a nervy one, with worrying moments and a lingering doubt for those watching. That didn't apply to Rosberg today, who was faultless at the front, aided by cooler conditions and a team that got all of the strategic decisions spot on. Though Button's pit stop problem relieved him of any pressure, Rosberg converted his pole position with the ease of Schumacher in his prime as Mercedes made a mockery of those saying it couldn't look after its tyres.

Jenson Button - 2nd
A solid result after a strong drive which was undone through no fault of his own. Looked to be a real contender for victory until the final round of pit stops when a stuck left rear dropped him to fifth place. The gap would have been a big one to close even in clear air, however, and Button's troubles getting the tyres to work in cooler conditions may mean that second was the best possible result regardless.

Lewis Hamilton - 3rd
His third consecutive third place means 2012 is beginning to have echoes of his debut season in Formula One. It's a consistency that Hamilton didn't display last year and for which he should be praised, as he had to battle his way through the field today - including passing Felipe Massa on track - and did so with a calm and measured approach. The only man with three podiums means he leads the championship.

Mark Webber - 4th
Having started sixth he might have hoped for more, and said himself after the race that fourth wasn't the maximum, but the first battle for Webber is with his team-mate and he ensured he outscored him for the second consecutive race. Looked strong at times but early pit stops in each stint often dropped him back in the field and left him out of sync with those in front, hurting his pace.

Sebastian Vettel - 5th
A measured race from the world champion, rather than the kind of gung-ho charge through the field that we saw from Webber last year. Vettel got himself early track position after a shocking start and then made his medium tyres last for over 20 laps to see him to the end. While he appeared disappointed that he lost out to Button, Hamilton and Webber late on, it was the price he'd pay for two-stopping having got himself into a false position.

Romain Grosjean - 6th
Finally a race to display his talents after premature exits in Australia and Malaysia. A long middle stint got him up to second place and ensured he would not face the same troubles late in the race that his team-mate did, but it could have been an even higher result had some over-exuberance when battling with Webber got the better of him and caused him to run wide at turn seven.

Bruno Senna - 7th
Really starting to show his potential. Given a strong car by Williams, he has now beaten his team-mate in every race this season and today did so with a damaged car. His front wing took a slight hit when he ran into the back of Massa at the start, but he still managed to complete a hugely impressive 27 laps on his final set of tyres to secure another six points.

Pastor Maldonado - 8th
A similar race to Senna, though Maldonado lost out at the start after being pushed wide in turn one. That compromised his race somewhat as he couldn't exploit the performance in his new set of soft tyres but he pulled off a two-stop strategy and might have beaten Senna had he not been baulked by a recovering Grosjean late in the race

Fernando Alonso - 9th
Ferrari's struggles continue, but they are relative as Alonso only finished 11.2s behind Hamilton in third. His race promised more until he tried to hang it around the outside of Webber through turn seven and ran off the track on the marbles. Was never going to be able to run a two-stop strategy due to traction issues but remained in the mix nonetheless.

Kamui Kobayashi - 10th
10th - His race was undone almost before it started. A poor start saw him drop back to seventh by the end of the opening lap, and from there it was always an uphill struggle. An early stop dropped him back into more traffic and he never found clear air to try to exploit any potential performance in the car.

Sergio Perez - 11th
The hero of the last race didn't do a lot wrong this time round, but was again the victim of his own success. Notoriously easy on his tyres, the team decided to persevere with a two-stop strategy and his pace wasn't strong enough on the medium tyre, while a clutch issue also cost him time in the pits.

Paul di Resta - 12th
Almost in a race of his own, di Resta was often the driver just off the back of a pack of cars fighting for points. Admitted himself that he was just a little bit away from being able to challenge those in front, but he made the tyres last and managed to hold off Massa at the death.

The cars leave the grid at the start of the race © Getty Images
Felipe Massa - 13th
Three races and no points will not read well back at Maranello. A quick glance at the bottom of the championship table shows that Massa is the only man other than the Caterham, Marussia and HRT drivers not to score a point. There were some signs of improvement over the weekend, specifically the 1.5s he found between final practice and qualifying, but there's no escaping the fact that he is already 37 points behind team-mate Alonso after three races in a season when points will be hard to come by.

Kimi Raikkonen - 14th
If the race had been 10 laps shorter we would all be praising a phenomenal drive and the start of a remarkable comeback ... unfortunately it wasn't. Lotus took a big gamble leaving him out on a set of used medium tyres for the second half of the race (28 laps), and unsurprisingly it didn't pay off. Only Senna managed to complete a similar length stint (27 laps), but he wasn't keeping Vettel behind him and his tyres were new when he took them on. Kimi was typically succinct after the race: "We tried a different strategy and it didn't pay off today; it's as simple as that."

Nico Hulkenberg - 15th
He picked up some damage to his front wing in the first corner which caused massive understeer and forced him to pit for a new nose on lap nine. He did well to make the end of the race with just one more tyre stop, but never really stood a chance of recovering to the points.

Jean-Eric Vergne - 16th
He started from the pit lane after his set-up choice proved disastrous in qualifying and spent the first eight laps picking his way past the bottom six drivers. When he got in clear air he showed decent pace and will be feeling much happier with his set-up heading to Bahrain.

Daniel Ricciardo - 17th
He lost a place to Kovalainen off the start and struggled to find a way back past during the opening stint. He stuck to a two-stop strategy but just couldn't get the car to work as well as it did in the opening two races.

Vitaly Petrov - 18th
A strong race in which he was on the lead lap right up until the final lap without the help of a safety car to bunch up the pack. He showed some strong pace, but once Kovalainen dropped back with a suspected loose wheel he had no real challengers or pressure.

Timo Glock - 19th
He struggled with front-left tyre wear throughout the race but still managed to make the chequered flag with just two pit stops. He started to run low on fuel towards the end of the race and nursed his Marussia across the line with team-mate Pic in close company.

Charles Pic - 20th
He had a strong race and shadowed his more experienced team-mate Glock throughout. He also believes Marussia closed the gap to Caterham this weekend, going as far as to suggest that a good strategy might be able get him ahead of one of the green cars on pace.

Pedro de la Rosa - 21st
While Pic is targeting the Caterhams at the coming races, de la Rosa suggested after the race that HRT might be able to beat the Marussias. He had a solid race and finished on the same lap as his closest rivals so there's no doubting the car is making progress.

Narain Karthikeyan - 22nd
He struggled on the soft tyres, complaining that his car was "moving a lot on the straight" but the medium compound tyres miraculously solved the problem. He finished the race a lap down on his team-mate but ahead of Kovalainen's struggling Caterham.

Heikki Kovalainen - 23rd
Immediately after his second pit stop he felt a problem at the rear of the car and nursed the Caterham back to the garage to make sure everything was still in its place. The team stuck a new set of tyres on his car and sent him on his way, but by that time he had lost so much time that any hope of finishing on the same lap of the leaders was lost.

Michael Schumacher - DNF - loose wheel
Any hope of a Mercedes one-two disappeared with a problem at Schumacher's first pit stop that left his front-right mechanic slamming the concrete pit lane in frustration. Up to that point he was maintaining a decent pace ahead of Button, but was struggling to match the unerring consistency of team-mate Rosberg. It was good to see him join in the celebrations after the race, but there is no doubt that he was also bitterly disappointed not to be the man of the moment.