Nico Rosberg dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix to take his second consecutive win, despite constant pressure from Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes pair occupied the front row of the grid, Rosberg taking pole for the fifth race in succession. Hamilton was a scant 0.078secs adrift.
Hamilton got a marginally better start but had to take the outside line around the first corner, emerging still in second. He stayed within a second of Rosberg through the early stages of the race until his tyres went off.
The Silver Arrows followed line-astern for the duration. Hamilton rejoined 1.5secs down after his final stop with 20 laps to go. Though he appeared to be the quicker of the two, Hamilton efforts were stymied by the dirty air coming off Rosberg’s car, which prevented him getting close enough to attempt a pass.
Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen didn’t have that problem. He executed a brilliant move on the Force India of Sergio Perez around the outside of Turn 1, then holding the inside at Turn 2, forcing Perez to jump off the throttle. A few laps later he did exactly the same thing again to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr. Moves like that are what fuel talk of Verstappen being a future champion.
Back at the front, Rosberg led Hamilton home by just under eight seconds. Though he secured the championship to races ago, Hamilton has been slightly off form since Singapore, where the Mercedes mysteriously underperformed. Certainly, Rosberg has regularly appeared to be getting more out of the car.
Hamilton told the BBC: “Nico has been doing a fantastic job in qualifying. I have to think how things have changed. Since Singapore, there have been some changes to our car which seem to have shifted the ways [the drivers’ form], so I need to figure out why that is and how I can get back on it.”
Various theories have been bandied about. Most of the them center on a change in the mandatory minimum tyre pressures stipulated by the manufacturer, Pirelli, and how Mercedes meets them, which may have affected the car’s handling balance. Others suggest that Rosberg has adjusted his driving style so that he can attack corners more during braking.
Whatever the reason, however you slice it, Rosberg is currently the faster of the two Mercedes drivers. If he can continue his run of form into the final race in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton will have work to do over the winter to see off a potentially more concerted challenge from Rosberg next season.
Behind the leaders, Sebastian Vettel secured third after a fairly quiet race, ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Everyone else had been lapped at least once, starting with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg held Daniil Kvyat at bay to take sixth.
Felipe Massa crossed the line eighth but was disqualified after his tyres were found to be 27°C over the maximum temperature allowed – Williams is appealing the decision. As such, Romain Grosjean, Verstappen and Pastor Maldonado were moved up a position to round out the top ten.
The next, and final, race is in Abu Dhabi on 29 November.
Brazilian Grand Prix results after 71 laps
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 1:31:09.090
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — +7.756
- Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +14.244
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +47.543
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1 lap
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1 lap
- Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — +1 lap
- Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — +1 lap
- Will Stevens — Marussia-Ferrari — +4 laps
- Alexander Rossi — Marussia-Ferrari — +4 laps
- Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — DNF (transmission)
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — DSQ (tyre temperatures)
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By Only Motors