Nico Rosberg wins the penultimate race of the 2015 Formula One season at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
As Hamilton struggled to follow and keep life in his tyres, Rosberg took a controlled victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Nico’s race today saw him become the second most experienced German in Formula One history and secure second in the 2015 championship, but today was a day where no one could match Nico Rosberg.
When the lights went out at Interlagos, Hamilton appeared to get the smoother launch off the grid and reduced the gap to Rosberg immediately. Nico however covered Lewis into the first corner by sweeping across and held Hamilton back from taking the lead into turn one as he was able to do in Japan and America.
Behind the Mercedes drivers, Bottas set about regaining the positions he lost to his grid penalty before the first corner. A strong start by the Finn instantly enabled him to tuck behind fellow-Finn Raikkonen as he picked off Hulkenberg and Kvyat.
Another driver who looked to regain positions lost before the grid was Carlos Sainz after he started from the pit lane due to losing power on his pit-to-grid lap. Carlos even had to wait for the pit lane to close before he could be towed back up the hill. But after his engine was fired back up he lost power again on the first lap of the race, causing Sainz to retire again.
As the drivers settled into their positions from the opening lap, Ricciardo was already diving into the pits for his first stop of the race. The Aussie switched compound of tyres to take on the mediums rather than the softs, but pitting early caused Ricciardo to reside behind the Manor’s and struggled to overtake them despite having the upgraded Renault power unit.
When Mercedes opted to call the race-leading Rosberg in for his first stop of the day, the German was held for a slight bit longer as Vettel passed him in the pit lane. In the end all this instance cost Rosberg was a small fraction of time to Hamilton as the Brit suffered a slow pit stop himself.
Hamilton however kept the pressure on his team-mate over the next few laps to continue to eat into Nico’s lead. And by Lap 20, he had the gap down to within a second after Rosberg went deep into the first corner.
While Hamilton shadowed Rosberg around the circuit, he began to create concerns regarding the life of his tyres. Maldonado meanwhile was still circulating the track with the medium tyres he began the race on.
Without stopping meant Pastor was able to move from 15th on the grid to 7th in the race. But he soon found turn four a place to lose positions as Kvyat then Massa swept ahead.
Maldonado & Lotus soon decided it was time to pit and the Venezuelan fell down the order to 17th. Strategy was also the topic of conversation in Hamilton’s cockpit as he begged the team to give him a different strategy as he began to fall back while finding it “impossible” to closely follow Rosberg.
“I’m faster but I can’t get close,” Hamilton pleaded to the pit wall.
His pleads however were not given in to and the team kept their drivers on the same strategies. This saw both men pit for a second time within a lap of each other but after dropping back to create some clean air, Hamilton exited the pits behind Alonso and Raikkonen while Rosberg had a clear track ahead of him.
Max Verstappen was also aiming to keep himself in clean air without the need to follow Perez in the Force India. This saw the rookie lunge down the outside of the Mexican into the first corner and hold the inside of turn two as he clambered over the kerb, forcing Perez to go deep and lose out to Grosjean as well.
Romain’s team-mate was looking for an overtake of his own into turn one soon after. But as Maldonado sized up Marcus Ericsson he tagged the side of the Sauber, sending the Swede into a spin and handing himself a five-second penalty.
After serving his penalty with his next pit-stop, Maldonado rejoined in a chase for the final point scoring positions. Eighth place however was held by Ericsson’s Sauber team-mate and the Brazilian tasting his first home grand prix did not want to yield the position to Pastor with ease. Even DRS and a slipstream on the run to turn four was not enough for Maldonado to complete the move as Nasr fought back. But Pastor gained the position soon after with DRS aiding his run into turn one.
Grosjean swiftly mirrored his team-mates move on Nasr into turn one dropping the Brazilian out of the points. Over the next few laps, Felipe lost even more places as drivers who had recently changed tyres swept ahead. One driver to move ahead of Nasr was Max Verstappen as the Dutchman swung his Toro Rosso around the outside before going on to claim the final point of the race.
Out in front, Hamilton began to drop off the pace as his tyres began to degrade. In the end Lewis could only cross the line seven seconds behind Rosberg, as Nico went on to claim his second win in a row following victory in Mexico. The 25-points Rosberg secured with the win also secures him second in the Drivers’ Championship to out-score fellow German, Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel in turn joined the Mercedes duo on the podium for the 13th time of the year, while his team-mate finished in fourth. Raikkonen took the chequered flag over 30-seconds behind Vettel and was the only non-podium finisher to not be lapped.
At the other end of the grid, Sainz was the race’s only non-finisher following his first lap retirement. While Alonso saw the end of the race alongside Button for McLaren, after Fernando took his third Honda power unit of the weekend.
Felipe Massa was later disqualified from the Brazilian Grand Prix results after initially finishing his home Grand Prix in eight place. The FIA found his pre-race tyre temperatures to be at 137 degrees, 27 degrees above the maximum limit, and with that disqualified him from the results.
Massa’s exclusion from the results saw Romain Grosjean elevated to eighth place, Max Verstappen ninth and Pastor Maldonado 10th. The four-point deduction Williams and Massa see from his disqualification will not however cause any championship order changes with Williams remaining in third.
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