Brazilian GP: Rosberg thwarts Hamilton with lights-to-flag victory

Nico Rosberg registered his second win on the trot in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, frustrating the challenge of his world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.

It was Rosberg's fifth win of the season, which ensures his runner-up spot in the world championship.

The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant third and fourth. 

Story of the race

From his fifth consecutive pole, Rosberg led Hamilton, who looked around the outside of Nico at the first corner, but Rosberg defended resolutely.

Vettel held third ahead of Raikkonen and a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas – who started seventh after a three-place grid penalty for overtaking Felipe Nasr under a red flag in practice.

Nico Hulkenberg slumped from fifth to seventh, as Daniil Kvyat also passed him off the startline but the Russian ceded a place to Bottas, who stormed around the outside of both of them.

The battle at the front

Rosberg led the opening lap by 0.6s, the Mercedes duo edging a second clear of the Ferraris already. By lap five, Rosberg had eased out of Hamilton's DRS range.

Rosberg pitted before Hamilton on lap 12, and although he had to be held for Vettel coming in behind, Hamilton's pitstop wasn't quick enough to take positional advantage – but was now back in DRS range.

Hamilton got to within 0.5s on lap 18 – prompting the radio message "Lewis is trying quite hard" to Rosberg – and had a half-hearted look down the inside of Rosberg at Turn 1.

Hamilton then reported: "At this rate my tyres are not going to last" but was encouraged by his engineer that degradation was "quite low". He then complained it was "impossible to follow on this track".

Hamilton dropped back to 2s by lap 28, after pleading to be switched to a different strategy but was told they would not give him an alternate tyre to his teammate, with the only option to extend his stint length.

Behind the Mercs, Vettel had slipped back to the tune of 10s and pitted for a second time – on the soft tyre – on lap 32, with Raikkonen a similar distance back from his teammate and busying himself by swearing at the Manors not getting out of his way.

Rosberg pitted for the second time on lap 33, with Hamilton doing likewise a lap later and rejoining 3.4s in arrears. He then had to clear Fernando Alonso's McLaren and Raikkonen.

Rosberg asked "what happened to Lewis at the end?" and was told Hamilton "couldn't keep the pace" at the end of his second stint.

Hamilton pushed hard to slash the gap to Rosberg to 2s on lap 46, forcing Rosberg to respond.

The final round of stops went off without incident, as Vettel switched back to the mediums, and Rosberg slammed in a new fastest lap on his new rubber to lead by 1.5s going into the final run to the finish.

Hamilton responded by dipping into the 1m14s bracket, and got into DRS range again on lap 52 – as the lead duo became embroiled in lapping the midfielders.

He dropped back soon after that, and believed he had "damaged his floor" but was told that his aero data was fine on the telemetry.

Hamilton slipped back in the closing of stages, complaining of a lack of grip and finished 7.7s behind.

Vettel finished a distant third, well clear of Raikkonen and Bottas.

The midfield tussle

Behind the leaders, Hulkenberg pitted first – a lap before Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean. Hulkenberg managed to undercut his way ahead of Kvyat in doing so for sixth.

Lotus's Pastor Maldonado – who failed to escape Q1 – gambled on starting on the more conservative tyre, and he rose to sixth during his first stint.

Hulkenberg – on fresher tyres – cleared Maldonado, which gave him a good gap over Kvyat who took a number of laps to do so.

Max Verstappen pulled an aggressive move on Perez through the Senna S for ninth, with Grosjean taking full advantage to pass the Mexican too.

Maldonado punted Marcus Ericsson's Sauber into a spin at Turn 1, which resulted in a 5s time penalty.

The lapped Hulkenberg clung to his top-six finish, just clear of Kvyat who will look back and rue the timing of his first pitstop.

Massa finished eighth, but is facing a stewards inquiry into the temperature of his tyres on the grid, ahead of Grosjean. After the race, Massa was excluded from his home event.

Verstappen grabbed the final point by passing Maldonado in the closing stages at the Senna S, but was promoted to ninth anyway, with Maldonado 10th despite his penalty.

Daniel Ricciardo, who started 19th after changing to the new-spec Renault engine, was up to 14th by the end of lap one.

He pitted at the end of lap three to switch to the medium-compound tyres, and charged his way through the tailenders and midfielders to finish 11th behind Maldonado. 

Tail-end struggles

Sauber's Nasr finished 13th, ahead of Jenson Button, who won the McLaren war over Fernando Alonso. Ericsson was 16th, ahead of the Manors of Will Stevens and Alex Rossi.

Carlos Sainz's car never made the grid after it shutdown at the end of the pitlane, and started from the pitlane on the medium tyre.

But his car broke down again just a few corners into the race, and he was the grand prix's first – and only – retirement.

1 Nico Rosberg  Mercedes 1:31:09.090
2 Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes +7.700
3 Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari +14.200
4 Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari +47.500
5 Valtteri Bottas  Williams +1 lap
6 Nico Hulkenberg  Force India +1 lap
7 Daniil Kvyat  Red Bull Racing +1 lap
EX Felipe Massa  Williams +1 lap
8 Romain Grosjean  Lotus F1 Team +1 lap
9 Max Verstappen  Toro Rosso +1 lap
10 Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull Racing +1 lap
11 Pastor Maldonado  Lotus F1 Team +1 lap
12 Sergio Perez  Force India +1 lap
13 Felipe Nasr  Sauber +1 lap
14 Jenson Button  McLaren +1 lap
15 Fernando Alonso  McLaren +1 lap
16 Marcus Ericsson  Sauber +2 laps
17 Will Stevens  Manor +4 laps
18 Alexander Rossi  Manor +4 laps
R Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso  

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Brazilian GP
Track Interlagos
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg , Sebastian Vettel , Valtteri Bottas
Teams Mercedes , Ferrari , Williams
Article type Race report