In taking the chequered flag at yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Rosberg’s cry of “Yes!” over the Mercedes team radio was loud and long, and richly deserved, as will be the celebrations.
Only four drivers in F1 history have had to wait longer to taste victory – Jenson Button (113), Jarno Trulli (117), Rubens Barrichello (124) and Mark Webber (131) – and a relieved Rosberg said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. Very, very cool. I’m very happy, very excited. It’s been a long time coming for me, and for the team as well over the past two years and a bit.
“Now it’s finally here it’s just amazing, definitely very special and just nice to see how quickly we are now progressing.
“To win my first race and everything that comes with it, with the team I have, with everybody who has been working together for more than two years now, it’s a very happy moment.”
Hopes of a Mercedes one-two were wrecked on lap 13, though, when Schumacher was forced to stop after his front-right tyre was not attached properly at his first pit stop.
Despite that, it failed to detract from what team principal Ross Brawn described as “a special and historic day”.
Brawn, who has won world titles with Benetton, Ferrari and his eponymous team, said: “It was stunning. It’s just a tragedy we had the problem with Michael because he would have been in great shape too.
“But we have started a new adventure. I have been lucky to have had a lot of special days, and this is certainly a special one.
“And I am so delighted for Nico, who has deserved to take his first victory several times, and has now done so by driving a perfectly judged race from pole position.
“I am excited to see how he develops now he has this win under his belt.”
The race for the remaining podium places was astonishing, with positions changing hands at an frantic rate, particularly in the closing laps as some of the two-stop strategists paid the price for their gamble.
On worn tyres, Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen was the biggest loser, tumbling from second place with just five laps remaining to finish 14th.
In the end, Button finished as runner-up, with McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton third for the third consecutive race.
Hamilton now leads the standings by two points from his fellow Briton.
Button potentially had a shot at pushing Rosberg to the wire but those hopes were ended at his third and final pit stop due to a delay in replacing the left-rear wheel nut.
“That was a pity because when I exited the pits I had four cars in front of me, cars I wouldn’t have been racing, and I would have had a nice, clear track to hopefully hunt down Nico,” said Button.”
As for the consistent Hamilton, he was content enough given his progression from seventh on the grid after taking a five-place penalty for changing a gearbox.
“What an incredible race with so many world champions, so many of the great drivers all in a train, just fighting each other,” said Hamilton.
“It’s great to see racing like that, to see cars so close in pace.”