The Brazilian Grand Prix delivered another resounding performance from the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team in what was a rather predictable and – with the exception of Max Verstappen – dull race. So who were Sunday’s winners and losers?
The obvious choice out of the field is Nico Rosberg, who claimed back-to-back victories with a lights-to-flag demonstrated at Interlagos. The German was able to once again convert pole position into the lead although there were a few seconds of tension seconds after the start when he and teammate Lewis Hamilton nearly touched at Turn 1.
Thereafter, he had Hamilton’s measure. Running in identical machinery and with near-identical race strategies, Hamilton could do nothing but sit in Rosberg’s wheeltracks. For Rosberg, his fifth consecutive pole position and second race win continued a strong run of form in the back end of the season, with the 25 points for victory guaranteeing he will finish as runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship to Hamilton.
The other Nico – as in Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg – had another good performance at a track where he usually goes well, having claimed pole position in 2010 and leading the race in 2012. His strong sixth-placed finish – his best of a sometimes patchy year – helped the team to secure their fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship standings, the team’s best result in its history.
The only other driver who came close to the Mercedes’ pace was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who completed the podium behind both Silver Arrows for the seventh time this season. The German within 15 seconds of Rosberg by the end of the race, a very creditable result in many respects. His Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen finished fourth, helping the team atone from its disastrous double-DNF in Mexico a fortnight earlier.
Perhaps the star of the race was Max Verstappen, who once again showed a level of car control that belied his inexperience. The Dutch teenager pulled off a succession of incredible overtaking moves on his older rivals – his pass on Sergio Pérez was a particular standout – to finish tenth, which became ninth thanks to Felipe Massa’s disqualification.
Fellow youngster Daniil Kvyat also had a good weekend, qualifying well in his Red Bull Racing Renault and chasing hard to finish in seventh place.
Felipe Massa had a very anonymous weekend on home soil, struggling in qualifying and not really making much of an impression in the race. The Brazilian veteran was subsequently disqualified from eighth place for an apparent tyre temperature and pressure violation, although Williams has indicated it will appeal the ruling of the FIA Stewards.
Carlos Sainz landed up being the race’s sole retiree, continuing a run of rather bad luck the youngster has been suffering – all at the same time while his teammate Verstappen continues to garner the limelight. Sainz’s Toro Rosso suffered a loss of power on his out-lap to the grid, where he was going to start from tenth place and on his choice of tyres, and despite being towed back to the pits to start the race from the pit lane, his car came to a terminal halt on the opening lap of the race.
Pastor Maldonado delivered another hallmark example of clumsy driving with an errant overtaking move on Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber that left the Swede facing the wrong way after being tipped into a spin. The incident earned him a five-second time penalty for his troubles, and by finishing in tenth (two spots behind teammate Romain Grosjean), it wasn’t enough to stop Lotus from staying in the hunt with Force India in their battle for fifth place in the standings.
Pastor Maldonado lost out on points as he collided with Marcus Ericsson, leaving him with a 5 second time penalty and missing out on points. Romain Grosjean finished the race 9th but Lotus’ efforts meant Force India secured 5th in the constructors championship.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team