Nico Rosberg has revealed that he acted on the advice of the Mercedes team and remained on track during the Chinese Grand Prix's first rain shower, despite senior team-mate Michael Schumacher opting for intermediates.
In hindsight, the seven-time world champion's call proved to be the wrong one and, while he was pitting just a handful of laps later for a return to slicks, Rosberg assumed the lead of the 56-lap event. Although he would succumb to Jenson Button's McLaren before half-distance, the younger German rarely appeared in danger of missing the podium and, although Lewis Hamilton also made it through before the end, a second top three result in as many races propelled Rosberg into second in the championship race.
"It was a good call," he noted, "I took the advice from my team and my engineer and eventually just decided 'okay, let's give it a go and stay out'. It turned out to be really good.
"Out there, you are saying 'please stop raining, please stop raining' as it is just so on the edge. If it rains a little bit more, it is the wrong call. If it rains a little bit less, it is fine. It was nice to be leading the race for a long time from there, but I think I got a little bit more tyre deg [degradation] than Jenson and, as soon as it started raining a bit more again, I struggled a little bit more and made a mistake, so he came by."
Having been criticised for not always fighting tooth-and-nail for position, Rosberg impressed observers with his defence of second place against former karting team-mate Hamilton. In the end, it was the timing of their final pit-stops that decided the issue, with the McLaren driver able to rejoin ahead of his German rival.
"From [the time Button went through], we didn't quite have the pace on the intermediates, and Lewis was pretty fast when he came up from behind," Rosberg reported, "But I had quite good fun with him. After he got me [in Australia], I thought 'okay, he is never coming by me again', and I think that was the only place he could have overtaken me.
"It was really tough at the end with [Fernando] Alonso, and I was a bit worried as my tyres were shot. As soon as it started drizzling a bit, it was really difficult out there, but I think he must have been struggling quite a bit too, so it worked out great."
Despite now having out-qualified Schumacher 4-0 and racked up five times as many points as the 'old master', Rosberg insists that he is happy to have earned his stripes within the team, but does not yet see himself as de facto
"It's definitely not the case," he claimed, "From the beginning on, we have been even in the team, even before, when everybody saw Michael as number one and me number two. We both get the same possibilities but, of course, I'm very, very happy with the way it's going for me. I'm really getting some consistent results, making the best of it.
"It's been important for me to work hard to get some respect within the team, and I think I've managed to do that quite well. Before the season, I was hoping to be on one level with Michael - that would have been fantastic for the whole season - but, at the moment, I'm in front, which is great. I expect him to be right there again at the next weekend of course, and to be fighting with him would be fantastic for the rest of the season."