A form-bucking grid for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix has thrown up the prospect of some curious results. We look at a few potential upsets…
The one-two starting positions of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in Shanghai tomorrow means F1 will see the first all-Mercedes front row since Juan Manuel-Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling shared the top three places at the Italian Grand Prix of 1955. That race at Monza was also the last time Mercedes won a grand prix as a manufacturer, with Fangio taking victory ahead of Piero Taruffi in the fourth Mercedes entered in that race. Taruffi had started ninth. Moss’s engine blew up after 27 laps and Kling’s gearbox let go five laps later. It was also Mercedes' final grand prix before withdrawing from racing in response to a fatal accident at Le Mans earlier in the year.
Sauber's new tiger
Thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalty, Kamui Kobayashi will line up third tomorrow. It’s the Sauber driver’s best ever start, but not the highest grid placing for a Japanese driver. That honour goes to Takuma Sato who lined up second for the 2004 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. Sato couldn’t hold on to that place, however, and retired with engine failure after 47 laps. Taku is one of just two Japanese drivers to stand on a Formula One podium. He placed third for BAR-Honda at the US GP in Indianapolis in 2004. Aguri Suzuka, meanwhile, finished, third at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix for Larousse.
Staying ahead of the game
If Nico Rosberg wins tomorrow he will become one of a handful of drivers to follow a maiden pole position with victory on the same weekend. Mark Webber was the last to convert pole into victory, doing so in Germany in 2009. Red Bull Racing team-mate Vettel famously finished first on Saturday and Sunday in Italy in 2008 to deliver Toro Rosso’s first race win. Lewis Hamilton did it in Canada tin 2007, while Felipe Massa’s first pole was followed by victory at the Turkish GP in 2006. Beyond that, Jarno Trulli is the only other driver to win from maiden pole in the 00s after his won from the front in Monaco in 2004.
Like father, like son
Nico has, of course, finished on the podium before. His last appearance being at the British GP in 2010 where he finished third. However, the last time a Rosberg took to the top step of the podium was when Nico’s father, Keke, won the 1985 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide. Curiously, while Keke won five times in F1, none of those wins were scored from the front row. His first win was at the 1982 Swiss GP (which took place at Dijon-Prenois in France) where he started eighth. That was followed by wins in Monaco in ’83 from fifth, Dallas in ’84 from eighth, Detroit ’85 from fifth and that Adelaide win from third.
The comeback kids
Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s race from 11th and while the defending champion reckons he’s got a chance of a good result thanks to a decent race pace, victory from outside the top 10 is rare. Since the turn of the century just five drivers have won starting out of the top 10. The most recent was Fernando Alonso who won the 2008 Singapore GP from 15th. Before that, Jenson Button won in Hungary from 14th in 2006; Kimi Raikkonen took a famous win in Japan from 17th in 2005; David Coulthard won the 2003 Australian GP from 11th; and Rubens Barrichello took his maiden F1 win in Germany from 18th in 2000.