Nico Rosberg has continued his hot form in the tail end of the season by winning the Brazilian Grand Prix and leading yet another Mercedes one-two finish.
The Mercedes pair was only separated by a couple of seconds over the entire race in their usual class of their own, while Ferrari was clearly the next best team as they were the final finishers not to be lapped in the 71-lap race.
Both Rosberg and Hamilton made great getaways at the beginning of the race, with both drivers almost touching yet again at the first corner.
Rosberg reached Turn 1 just ahead of Hamilton and held onto the lead while Vettel settled in and avoided contact in third position.
As the duo continued to fight each other on and off, pitting within a lap of one another to limit any sort of strategic advantage, Hamilton complained that he was faster than his teammate Rosberg and asked his team for an alternate strategy. His pleas were denied.
The Briton continued to press his teammate and put the pressure on, although the nature of the track didn’t present many overtaking opportunities or the option to follow Rosberg’s car closely without increasing his tyre wear.
Ferrari attempted to give Mercedes a bit of a fright by pitting Vettel on Lap 32 for a set of soft tyres to run on his second stint. Mercedes didn’t react and continued with their strategy, giving both their drivers the medium compound tyre. The soft tyre helped Vettel close the gap to Rosberg at the front but not enough to challenge for position; he finished 14 seconds behind.
Valtteri Bottas ran a trouble-free race without many battles in fifth position as his Williams wasn’t as competitive as the Ferrari, but considerably quicker than Nico Hülkenberg’s Force India in sixth.
After dropping from fifth to seventh at the beginning of the race, Hülkenberg pitted a lap before Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Massa, Sergio Pérez and Romain Grosjean. The undercut worked as he emerged from the pits ahead of Kvyat’s Red Bull in sixth position.
Pastor Maldonado was next in line for Hülkenberg, as the Lotus driver gambled on starting the race on the medium compound tyre and running a longer stint after another poor qualifying performance. With fresher tyres, Hülkenberg cleared the Venezuelan and left Kvyat to try and pass in order to keep up with his Force India.
Maldonado then got himself into trouble with the Stewards when he made contact with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, sending the Swede into a spin at Turn 1 which earnt him a five-second time penalty.
Grosjean and Max Verstappen cut through the midfield towards the end of the race, demoting Felipe Nasr, Pérez and Maldonado on their way into the final points paying positions. Verstappen denied Maldonado of his first points at a Brazilian GP with three laps left to run by diving on the inside of the Lotus at Turn 1.
Daniel Ricciardo was tasked with making his way through the field after starting the race in nineteenth position due to a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change.
The Australian pitted at the end of Lap 3 to dispose of his soft tyres and jump onto the mediums, which then allowed him to run longer stints and charge though the field to finish a respectable twelfth position.
The sole retirement of the race came from the Toro Rosso garage when Carlos Sainz Jr’s engine cut out on the way to the grid. The team recovered the STR10 from the end of the pitlane and restarted it, although the power unit cut out again after just a couple of turns on the first lap.
|Formula 1 Grande Prêmio Petrobras do Brasil 2015 – Final Classification (71 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||71||1:31:09.090|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||71||+ 7.756|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||71||+ 14.244|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||71||+ 47.543|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||70||1 lap behind|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||70||1 lap behind|
|7.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||70||1 lap behind|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||70||1 lap behind|
|9.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||70||1 lap behind|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||70||1 lap behind|
|11.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||70||1 lap behind|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||70||1 lap behind|
|13.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||70||1 lap behind|
|14.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||70||1 lap behind|
|15.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||70||1 lap behind|
|16.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||69||2 laps behind|
|17.||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||67||4 laps behind|
|18.||Alexander Rossi||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||67||4 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DQ.||Felipe Massa^||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||70||Disqualified|
|DNF.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||0||Power Loss|
^ Felipe Massa – who was originally classified in eighth place – was excluded from results after the stewards found that his right-rear tyre did not comply with the maximum permitted temperature and pressure ahead of the start of the race.
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas