Nico Rosberg won the first Mexican Grand Prix for 23 years at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, beating Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 1.9s.
Rosberg bounced back from his horror show in Austin last weekend by leading almost every lap, with the only controversy coming when both Mercedes drivers were ordered to make a second pitstop – a decision that Hamilton challenged, and briefly ignored.
Williams's Valtteri Bottas finished third – only his second podium of the season – but had a late safety car to thank for moving him within range of Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat, whom he passed at the restart.
Story of the race
From pole position, Rosberg led Hamilton, who immediately tucked into his tow on the run to Turn 1. Hamilton looked to the outside, with a fast-starting Kvyat grabbing third from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who touched at the first corner.
"He gave me no room at all," complained Ricciardo.
"He just put his front wheel into my tyre," countered Vettel. "He had no chance to get past me anyways."
Stewards decided to take no action over the incident.
Behind that contretemps, Bottas got past Massa for fifth, but Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso managed to intersect the Williams duo, having jumped Felipe Massa's Williams as a slowing Vettel balked the pack, with local hero Sergio Perez running eighth.
Vettel got a puncture from contact with Ricciardo, and crawled back to the pits.
As soon as DRS was enabled, Bottas got right on to Ricciardo's tail, as Massa did likewise with Verstappen. Hamilton got into DRS range of Rosberg by lap four, but the high altitude appeared to be going a long way to negating its effect.
Bottas pitted early, on lap eight, to switch to the preferred medium-compound tyre, and Massa followed suit a lap later along with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.
Rosberg extended a 1.4s lead over Hamilton by lap 10, with Kvyat over 5s behind the Mercedes duo. He doubled that over the next 10 laps, but the gap was back to 1.8s when Rosberg pitted on lap 26, told that his tyre degradation was down to "10 percent".
Hamilton stayed out to try and 'overcut' his teammate, but his pace wasn't good enough and he pitted on lap 28. He rejoined 3.5s behind.
Hamilton carved into Rosberg's lead initially on his fresh mediums, but the gap stabilized at 3s.
Mercedes switched its strategy to a two-stop race once it was a pitstop ahead of Kvyat. Rosberg duly pitted as instructed on lap 46, but Hamilton stayed out – despite his pitcrew being ready to receive him.
Hamilton radio-ed in: "Can I ask why?"
He was told: "We are worried about wear with these tyres, we're down to the canvas. Box for safety reasons."
Hamilton argued: "My tyres feel good," before he was instructed to pit for a second time. After the stop, he said: "Please check those tyres and let me know the feedback on them."
Rosberg was 4.2s clear after Hamilton's stop, having benefited again from stopping first for new rubber.
The safety car for Vettel's exit made it a 13-lap sprint to the finish, Rosberg extended a 1.5s lead straightaway, despite going off in the Esses and thwacking over the kerbs as he rejoined. Hamilton too had a moment at Turn 12.
Although Hamilton pushed hard in the closing stages, Rosberg kept him out of DRS range to score his 12th career F1 win.
Disaster for Ferrari
Kvyat had already pitted from third on lap 21. He rejoined ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen – up to sixth from 19th – but Kimi was being attacked by Bottas…
After Raikkonen fended off Bottas through the opening corners, Bottas clattered into his right-rear corner at Turn 5, punting him off much in the fashion that Raikkonen had hit him on the final lap at Sochi. Stewards decided no action was required on that incident either.
Vettel's fightback after his early setback got him past Carlos Sainz's 12th-placed Toro Rosso on lap 16, but soon after he passed Button for 11th, he spun at Turn 7 – the first left-hander of the Esses – dropping him back to 15th again.
"The flatspot is pretty bad, I can continue but it's not great," he said.
Vettel took a second set of mediums on lap 36, which put him a lap down. He even had the ignominy of having to slow down to let Hamilton past to avoid a blue-flag penalty, despite pointing out "I'm quicker than him".
Vettel then crashed out on lap 52 at the Esses. "I crashed, again Turn 7. Sorry."
Battle for the places
Ricciardo dropped behind the Williams duo after his pitstop, but was sticking to Red Bull's one-stop plan. At half distance, Bottas was 2s behind Kvyat and 4s ahead of Massa, with Ricciardo a further 4s back.
Ricciardo closed right up on Massa by lap 50, and passed him under braking for Turn 1 on lap 51.
The safety car for Vettel's crash set off a flurry of pitstops for Kvyat, Ricciardo and Massa, and although Bottas missed the first opportunity, he retained his fourth place nevertheless. Both Red Bulls switched to the soft tyre, with the Williams pair taking mediums.
Bottas passed Kvyat into Turn 1 at the restart to grab third. Although Kvyat had DRS, his Renault power unit was powerless to respond to the Merc-powered Williams, and Bottas pulled clear to nab a podium that was highly unlikely without the safety car.
Kvyat finished fourth, ahead of Ricciardo and Massa. Hulkenberg ended his poor run of results with a fine seventh, ahead of Perez.
Earlier, Sainz undercut his way past Perez, but the Spaniard outbraked himself at Turn 4 and totally shortcut Turn 5. Sainz wisely elected to let Perez past, doing so in the 40,000-seat baseball stadium section.
Perez passed the other Toro Rosso of Verstappen for eighth on lap 50, after Max ran wide at Turn 12.
Verstappen finished ninth, ahead of the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the latter almost shaving the wall at Turn 12 in the closing laps.
Marcus Ericsson finished 12th, ahead of Sainz and McLaren's Jenson Button.
In Manor-land, Alex Rossi passed Will Stevens in the final 10 laps to finish 15th.
Besides the crashing Ferraris, Felipe Nasr's Sauber went off in the baseball stadium soon after the restart following a brake fire.
Fernando Alonso retired on the opening lap with an MGU-H failure.
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||+16.572|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||+19.682|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India|
|9||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso|
|10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team|
|11||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team|
|13||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso|
|15||Alexander Rossi||Manor||+2 laps|
|16||Will Stevens||Manor||+2 laps|
|R||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Spun off|
|R||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||Power Unit|