Rosberg controls Brazilian Grand Prix to victory
Nico Rosberg took a controlled victory at Sao Paulo, winning the Brazilian Grand Prix by fending off his team mate Lewis Hamilton throughout the race. Sebastian Vettel completes the podium in third place.
With rising temperatures, the Brazilian Grand Prix became a tyre management affair, with drivers unsure before the race if they'd go for two or three stops.
In any case, that was initially not the worry of Sainz, whose Toro Rosso stalled during the practice start when he went on his way to the pitlane. He eventually started the race from the pitlane itself after his car was recovered and started in the pits.
As the lights went out, Rosberg launched off the line well to retain his pole position, diving into the first corner ahead of Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen. Valtteri Bottas moved up from 7th to 5th by then, recovering 2 of the three places he lost due to his grid penalty for overtaking under red flags on Friday.
Carlos Sainz meanwhile saw his power unit lock up completely 2 corners into the race, leaving big tyre marks on the track as his rear wheels locked up. The Spaniard's race was a bit shorter than he had hoped.
The other Spaniard had a good start from last place on the grid, immediately moving up 4 places by Turn 1, thanks to a very solid getaway. Daniel Ricciardo, who started just ahead of him, had a lousy start and failed to get past any car, subsequently deciding to pit after 2 laps to change to mediums and get some clean air ahead of him.
By lap 10, the first series of pit stops was initiated by Nico Hulkenberg. Race leader Nico Rosberg pitted 4 laps later. Hamilton followed suit the next lap and rejoined the track about 1 second down on his team mate. By that time, everybody bar Will stevens had pitted for medium tyres. The latter chose to do so eventually on lap 16.
At a third of the race distance, little racing went on, except maybe for Hamilton who chased his team mate ever more closely. He did fail to make a move stick though, and told his engineer it was "impossible to follow at this track", denoting the loss of downforce in the second section that makes it extremely difficult to get a pass done, even with DRS properly available.
On lap 33, as Vettel pits to change to softs, Verstappen makes the pass of the day by getting round Perez through the outside of turn 1. Both went through the corner side by resulting in an advantage for Verstappen in the subsequent right hander. Mercedes followed suit to pit both its cars, although they more logically chose to take on new prime tyres, as well as Raikkonen. The only three to follow Vettel's decision were Maldonado and both McLaren drivers.
15 laps later, Vettel, changing to mediums, followed by both Mercedes drivers. Hamilton had backed off from his fight with Rosberg through the third stint before pushing harder again towards the end of the race.
Towards the end of the race, the action was mainly the result of people running fresher tyres versus drivers on a two stop strategy. Felipe Nasr in particular moved backward quickly, getting passed by both Lotus drivers and Verstappen in a span of two laps.
As Hamilton ran out of laps for another passing attempt, and got a bit annoyed by some backmarkers, the World Champion definitively backed out of the fight, eventually finishing 7.7 seconds down on his race winning team mate. Sebastian Vettel finished third, ahead of the second Ferrari from Kimi Raikkonen.
In fact, as they crossed the finish line, those were also the only four drivers in the same lap as Bottas and all cars behind him were lapped at least once.
|5||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Williams||+1 lap||10|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||+1 lap||8|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull Racing||+1 lap||6|
|EX||Felipe Massa||BRA||Williams||+1 lap||0|
|8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Lotus||+1 lap||4|
|9||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso||+1 lap||2|
|10||Pastor Maldonado||VEN||Lotus||+1 lap||1|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||+1 lap||0|
|12||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||+1 lap||0|
|13||Felipe Nasr||BRA||Sauber||+1 lap||0|
|14||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren||+1 lap||0|
|15||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren||+1 lap||0|
|16||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber||+2 laps||0|
|17||Will Stevens||GBR||Marussia||+4 laps||0|
|18||Alexander Rossi||USA||Marussia||+4 laps||0|
|NC||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||DNF||0|