Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead in the championship over fellow Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg by winning his sixth Grand Prix in seven races.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen both finished on the podium in second and third position respectively, as for the first time since Hungary 2015 two Red Bull drivers stood on the podium.
After losing three positions at the beginning of the race, Rosberg brought his Mercedes home in fourth place as he struggled to match the pace set by his teammate and the Red Bulls.
Rosberg bogged down at the start of the race which handed the lead to Hamilton while the two Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen scrapped over second position at Turn 1.
Verstappen took to the outside of the first corner and passed his teammate, while Ricciardo was left to fend off a charging Rosberg who was trying to make up lost ground having dropped to fourth position.
Alonso made ground passing Felipe Massa for tenth position on the seventh lap, the Brazilian was then left to fight Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso, which he eventually lost out on two laps later. Massa radioed his team that the car wasn’t the same ever since he had been hit earlier in the race, so he dived for the pits and put on a set of new soft compound tyres after 10 laps.
Rosberg pitted his Mercedes a lap later along with Verstappen, with both drivers choosing to run another set of super softs. Ricciardo made his first pit stop on lap 13 and went for an alternate strategy from the rest of the front runners, bolting on a set of new softs to run a longer stint in the race.
Meanwhile, Hamilton had extended his lead out to 13 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, while Vettel pitted in the other Ferrari to dispose of the worn out super softs for a fresh set of soft compound tyres.
Both Hamilton and Raikkonen pitted on lap 15 and also chose the soft tyre. Hamilton rejoined the race in the lead six seconds ahead of Verstappen while Raikkonen came out five second behind teammate Vettel in sixth.
Massa continued to drop down the order and found himself in 14th position having been passed by Kevin Magnussen in the Renault on the quicker super soft tyre. A train formed behind the Williams as Sainz started to pressure Massa for 14th while Grosjean also joined in having just pitted.
Sainz made a move stick on the 22nd lap and was quickly followed by Grosjean two corners later. A bit further up the road, fellow Haas driver Gutierrez was in a battle with Alonso defending 10th position, the Mexican lost out when Alonso stuck his McLaren inside the Turn 7 right hander.
At the front, Hamilton’s lead over Verstappen remained around seven seconds while Ricciardo, on the more durable soft tyre, was lapping more consistent lap time than that of his teammate and maintained a gap of under two seconds to not destroy his tyres.
The second round of stops began as Rosberg made for the pits after making his super softs last 16 laps before pitting from fourth position. The German took on a set of new softs and rejoined the race in sixth position, seven seconds behind Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Verstappen followed suit a lap later from second and just came out of the pits ahead of Rosberg’s Mercedes. Although his advantage only lasted a few corners as Rosberg dived on the inside of the Turn 6 hairpin and edged Verstappen wide to take fifth position.
While Rosberg made the move stick, the Stewards weren’t happy with the aggressive nature of the manoeuvre, handing Rosberg a five second time penalty for forcing another driver off the track.
Both Ricciardo and Hamilton made their softs last 20 laps before they decided to jump back on to the quicker super softs, with Hamilton maintaining his lead with a comfortable six second buffer to Rosberg, while Ricciardo rejoined fourth, still a second off Verstappen.
The Australian put his super softs to good use, quickly closing the gap to Verstappen and passing his teammate with the assistance of DRS on the back straight, posting a fastest lap of the race in the process and taking a second out of the gap to Rosberg in front.
Rosberg, who was on an alternate strategy to Ricciardo running the soft tyre, was told he needed to up the pace in order to neutralise the threat from the charging Red Bull behind, who was continuing to take large chunks of time out to cut the gap to Rosberg to under a second by lap 43.
A lap later Ricciardo’s pace forced Rosberg to pit for a new set of soft tyres, where the German was also required to carry out his five-second penalty for forcing Verstappen off the track.
Running in fourth position, Ferrari attempted to get Vettel to pit so they could undercut the Red Bulls, however, Vettel had other ideas as he refused to comply with the order, suggesting he could get more out of his 15-lap old super softs.
The strategy didn’t pan out for the four-time world champion as he had to settle for fifth position, while his teammate finished four seconds behind in sixth.
Ricciardo pitted a lap after Verstappen on the 47th lap and rejoined the race in second position. With Verstappen in third, the Red Bull’s battled for second position as both cars were on the super softs. However, Ricciardo’s set was brand new and four laps younger meaning the Australian could push harder and maintain enough of a gap to escape DRS range.
Mercedes responded by bringing Hamilton in the pits and gave the Briton a set of softs to see him to the end of the race, leaving him with a nine-second advantage over Ricciardo.
Like the last race in Hungary only a week ago, Hamilton seemed to be toying with the rest of the field by posting slower lap times while preserved his tyre life. Ricciardo, who was originally nine seconds behind in second, closed the gap to almost six second before Hamilton responded by posting a lap seven tenths faster than the Red Bull.
With five laps left to run in the race, drops of rain started to hit and caused concern to the teams, although it didn’t last long and didn’t have an impact on the final result.
Alonso and Perez had a late battle in the final stages of the race for the final points paying position as Perez made a move on the Spaniard with two laps left in the race. With Nico Hulkenberg finishing in seventh position and Bottas dropping to ninth position having run his tyres for 33 laps, Force India reduced the gap to Williams in the Contructors’ Championship to 15 points.
The two retirements of the race came from Felipe Massa on lap 39, and Felipe Nasr o nthe 60th lap, when his Sauber came to a stop at the beginning of the pit lane.
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas