Nico Rosberg hailed the strategy call by Mercedes that allowed him to win Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix and move into the lead of the Formula 1 world championship for the first time since September 2014.
A poor start from second on the grid saw Rosberg lose a position early on, but Mercedes managed to use the undercut well at the first round of pit stops and get the German up into second behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The race was suspended on lap 19 after a crash involving Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez had left debris strewn across the track, causing all cars to return to the pit lane.
Mercedes took advantage of this to switch Rosberg to the medium compound tire, allowing him to go to the end of the race without making another stop.
Although he initially lacked the pace to catch Vettel at the front, Rosberg took a lead he would never relinquish when the Ferrari driver pitted to move from super-softs to softs.
“The strategy was crucial today, so I’m really thankful. The team did a great job on that side,” Rosberg said, having won a fourth consecutive race for the first time in F1.
“We are really strong in strategy amongst other things. I don’t want to single out one thing, we’re strong in nearly all areas but that did it today. So I’m thankful.
“It was the tire choice also on the red flag. I was glad to see that [Ferrari] were on the super-soft. I wasn’t sure that was going to be the case. I was happy that I was able to follow quite well with the medium.
“I was a bit concerned about the restart with the medium, that that tire would be too cold but it worked out OK. It was fine. Yeah, red flag. Definitely necessary and the right thing for sure to clear out the incident.
“It was a great fight and a great race and I’m really pleased, to win the first race of the season was awesome. It was a good kickstart to the season.”