Nico Rosberg’s first pole position in Formula One - and the first for a Mercedes-Benz works car since Monza in 1955 - couldn’t have come at a better race. China is Mercedes’ third biggest market (after Germany and the USA) and sales are up 24 percent in the first three months of 2012.
After the qualifying session, when the smiles were still broad, Michael Schumacher - who will join Rosberg on the front row for tomorrow’s race - had to rush to the former Expo site in downtown Shanghai for the launch of the C63 AMG Coupé in China. Michael was joined on stage by former adversary Mika Hakkinen, who’s an official ambassador for AMG in the People’s Republic. Mika retired from F1 at the end of 2001, so he never got to race an F1 car here, but Chinese racing fans got to see him driving an SLS AMG in November’s Zhuhai Six Hours. The launch was deemed a huge success, with more than 1,000 guests and Chinese media turning up to the event. All MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS needs todo now is repeat its starting positions in tomorrow’s race!
The first race of the weekend has already taken place, however, when more than 100 paddock pass holders took part in the second UBS Group Run of the year (the first being in Melbourne). UBS gave €300 to Make A Wish Foundation for each lap successfully negotiated and going into tonight’s race, they had already spent $38,000.
Elsewhere, Sky’s Georgie Thompson wasn’t happy with the money she shelled out for a ‘Rolex’ in Shanghai’s Bund market earlier in the week. She thought she’d struck a bargain when she paid a stall holder £250 for her Swiss replica, having knocked £200 off the asking price. Then she was told that other people had paid £50 for exactly the same watch… Doh!
It’s the Grand National horse race at Aintree in the UK this afternoon and many of the British teams couldn’t let it pass without a sweepstake. Williams mechanic ‘Pikey’ took the betting particularly seriously, charging 50 Yuan (€6) per horse and paying out on the first and last horses. Sounds almost as much of a lottery as the Malaysian GP three weeks ago!