Rosberg answers critics in emphatic style
Nico Rosberg looks every inch the archetypal image of a grand prix driver - blonde, good looking, perfect smile, the lot. And in Shanghai on Sunday, at the 111th attempt, he finally delivered the most important part of the package - the perfect win.
It has been a long time coming.
This is the 26-year-old German's seventh season of F1 and while Lewis Hamilton, who was his team-mate when they were teenage karters 12 years ago, was a winner almost from the start of his Formula 1 career, Rosberg's route to the top step of the podium has been somewhat more torturous.
So torturous, in fact, that there have been times when some wondered whether he would ever follow his father Keke in becoming a race winner.
Nico Rosberg's dominant victory in China ensured he has become the first son of a living grand prix winner to follow in his father's footsteps - and only the third ever. The fathers of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve were killed when their son were children.
Keke Rosberg also had to wait a long time to stand on the top step of the podium - his first victory came in his fifth season.
Like Nico, that was Keke's first year in a competitive car, and he ended it as world champion. It seems unlikely at this stage that Nico will follow his father in that sense, too, but after such a dominant win it certainly cannot be completely ruled out.
Nico Rosberg led from pole position to score Mercedes' first victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. Photo: Getty
There is no doubt about the calibre of Rosberg's win on Sunday, but it remains difficult to be absolutely sure of his ultimate potential.
He is clearly very fast - but just how fast is not completely clear. Likewise, it remains to be seen whether he possesses all the other qualities that make up a great grand prix driver.
So far, for example, he has appeared to be the sort of driver who will deliver to the potential of his car - but not one who is able to transcend it occasionally, in the manner of Hamilton or Fernando Alonso.
In his debut year, he was generally marginally out-paced by Mark Webber, his team-mate at Williams at the time. And for the rest of Rosberg's career there before joining Mercedes in 2010 he was partnered with journeymen drivers and in uncompetitive cars.
Rosberg has dominated his Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher in qualifying since then, but it is clear to most that the seven-time champion is not the same driver he was before he retired in 2006 and spent three years on the sidelines. And until Sunday, Schumacher had generally matched Rosberg for race pace since last season.
The improved performance of Mercedes this year will finally give Rosberg the chance to go wheel-to-wheel with the top drivers on a consistent basis for the first time, so a clearer picture may well emerge.
A first win, especially one so impressive, will do wonders for his confidence, although he has never lacked for that.
Rosberg is a highly intelligent man, who was planning on a degree in engineering had he not become a Formula 1 driver. He is an individual character, and can be a prickly interviewee.
It may be that will change now he will no longer be faced with endless questions about whether he believes he can be a winner.
He could not have answered them in more emphatic style.
If Schumacher had thought Rosberg's 0.5 seconds a lap advantage in qualifying was a one-off based on a unique set of circumstances, he was soon disabused of that belief in the race as the younger German sprinted off into the distance, building a five-second lead in the first 10 laps.
That margin was the foundation for his win, but it was not as if Rosberg then spent the rest of the afternoon hanging on in front of faster cars.
After the first pit stops, Jenson Button was up into a de facto second place and in clear air, but Rosberg continued to pull away, although he was on the faster tyre. Button came back at him before the McLaren driver made his second stop, but only marginally.
Had the mechanic fitting Button's left rear tyre not suffered a problem with a cross-threaded wheel nut at his final stop, the Englishman would have rejoined about 14 seconds behind Rosberg with 19 laps to go.
Button's pace on the slower tyre suggests that he would have closed on Rosberg at that stage, but whether it would have been quickly enough is a moot point.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted: "I think it would have been very difficult to beat him."
Where have a team who have gone backwards in the first two races found that pace from? Both Rosberg and Mercedes sports boss Norbert Haug had a simple explanation - set-up changes allowing better use of the tyres.
They had used them too much in the first race in Australia and not worked them enough in the second in Malaysia. Here in Shanghai they found a middle way.
Behind Rosberg was a fantastic scrap for second place, what Haug described as "one of the best races I have ever seen".
Recounting the story of Red Bull's race from ninth and 14th places on the first lap to fourth and fifth at the flag, team boss Christian Horner said he sounded "like a horse racing commentator".
The championship is clearly going to be very close and it is setting up what look set to be a superb season.
"We've had three very different races," Whitmarsh said, "and I think this is going to be a season where potentially we have 20 very different races.
"It's fascinating, really. I enjoy it and I'm sure people watching it enjoy it. Who's going to predict who's going to win in Bahrain?"