Much of the talking had been done off track over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, but Sunday afternoon means that the track does the talking. Surprising the weather would be a lot better than the weather forecasts would make out, after much of the week predicting rain over the weekend, but with blue skies over the circuit no such worries would at least hit the start of the race.
The front of the field was split with a fast Nico Rosberg after a great qualifying lap that Lewis Hamilton couldn’t match, lining up in second from the two Williams in 3rd and 4th. At the back of the field Dany Kvyat took the reminder of his engine penalty from Austin, and Sergio Perez served his seven place penalty for hitting Adrian Sutil at the start.
As the cars were going to the grid, Adrian Sutil had a turbo problem and would start from the pitlane, although Monisha Kaltenborn described it as a ‘technical change’.
Those who would start on the medium tyres included Hulkenberg, Sutil, Grosjean and Kvyat after failing to qualify inside of the top 10. Rosberg didn’t put any rubber down on his grid spot going away on his formation lap, while Hamilton wasn’t 100% happy with his practice start either.
Hamilton didn’t get a very good start, with Rosberg getting the advantage, although the Williams were attacked from behind. The Red Bulls were together at the back of the top ten after Ricciardo stayed behind his team mate who had dropped back. Gutierrez got into the top ten. Raikkonen also slipped to 11th.
Rosberg got away at the front, with Hamilton pulling out a small gap to the Williams. The gap between the three eight tenths. Bottas still down in 4th in the second Williams just hind his team mate.
On lap 3 and Vettel was attacking Alonso for 7th, while Raikkonen was close to the back of Gutierrez in 10th. Ricciardo tried a move on Vettel into the first corner on lap 4, but was too far back.
At the front of the field and Hamilton responded to the faster Rosberg by setting another fastest lap.
Pastor Maldonado was the first driver to pit on lap 5, after starting on the soft tyres for the medium. Massa pitted on lap 6, again for the soft tyre, with a good stop by the Williams team.
Lap 7 and Bottas, Button and Vettel all pitted for the medium tyres. The order stayed Bottas, Button, Vettel. Massa stayed in the lead of that little battle, the undercut worked for him.
Rosberg pitted a lap later, a three second pit stop, with Alonso, Magnussen and Alonso pitting behind. Ricciardo was also at the back of that train with Vettel overtaking the group. Felipe Massa was given a five second stop go penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Hamilton given the hurry up stopped on lap 9, a 2.8 second stop for the mediums. Hamilton came out only marginally behind Rosberg. Stuck in traffic Hamilton closed on the back of Rosberg, with the pair overtaking Grosjean.
At the front Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Grosjean and Sutil had yet to stop on the medium tyres, with Hulkenberg leading the race. Hamilton was told that he had to look after his tyres on a long stint.
Still close together on the track Alonso, Vettel and Ricciardo were battling over 11th place. Hamilton was dropping from the back of Rosberg, who overtook Kvyat putting a car between them. Hamilton lost time behind Kvyat and overtook on lap 13, while Rosberg was closing in on the leading Force India. He overtook for the lead a lap later.
Bottas was also stuck in traffic, down in 7th and behind Grosjean who he overtook on lap 14, with Button also staying to the back of the Williams. Hamilton was complaining of a vibration, still behind Hulkenberg. He overtook him into the first corner on lap 16.
Massa closed in on a non-stopping Dany Kvyat, while Ricciardo dropped back from the rear of Vettel. There were big cheers when Massa did overtake Kvyat. Alonso also got ahead of Sutil, also having not stopped. Hamilton reported that there was blistering on the front tyre, with Rosberg also complaining of rear grip. The track temperature soared to 55 degrees, the highest of the day increasing the pressure on the tyres.
Bottas was being hunted down for 4th, with the tyres on the Williams looking like they were hurting.
The order being Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Bottas, Button, Grosjean, Magnussen, Alonso, Vettel on lap 20.
Sutil pitted on lap 20, but it was a very slow stop, putting him to the back of the field. Grosjean had yet to pit in 6th, still on the medium tyres from the start. Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were suffering with blisters on the front right tyre. Magnussen was attacking Grosjean for 6th place, with Alonso only just behind the pair. Magnussen overtook Grosjean on the ascent up to the startline, with the Lotus looking to pit, but was unable to with the McLaren on the inside line.
By lap 24 Hamilton was starting to close on Rosberg, while Alonso tried to overtake Grosjean, succeeding into the lake decent. Vettel also got ahead of the Lotus, with Ricciardo getting stuck behind him in the midfield. Hamilton set another fastest lap, with Vettel and Grosjean pitting. Vettel for a second time. Felipe Massa also pitted from third, having to serve a five second penalty for speeding. Massa came out ahead of Maldonado in 13th after a long stop.
Nico Rosberg pitted on lap 27, another set of the medium tyres for the Mercedes. Bottas also pitted behind the Mercedes in the Williams, there was a problem in the pitstop, with the team tightening his seat belts. He came out behind Magnussen.
Hamilton in the lead set the fastest lap of the race, while Jenson Button pitted with a very fast stop. It doesn’t last long though for Hamilton who went off the circuit handing the advantage to Rosberg costing the Briton seven seconds. He pitted at the end of the lap. Raikkonen was third who had yet to pit for a second time.
Magnussen closed in on the back of Vettel, while Perez in 16th was investigated for speeding in the pitlane where he got a five second penalty. While serving his penalty Massa remained in the lead of his battle with Button, who was stuck behind a not-stopped Kvyat running on a different strategy. Alonso had dropped behind Vettel in the pit stops.
Hamilton on lap 32 was still closing in on Rosberg, taking up to a second a lap out of the leader. The gap down to under six seconds. Having overtaken Kvyat, Button pulled away from the Toro Rosso quickly.
Kimi Raikkonen pitted for his second stop on lap 36, although the jack dropped without the front right tyre full secured and lost a lot of time. Another front jack failure for Ferrari. He came out behind Bottas. Hulkenberg pitted a lap later. Vettel overtook Kvyat into the first corner for 5th place. Hulkenberg emerged from the pits ahead of Raikkonen following his problem.
Kvyat pitted on lap 39 which released Magnussen and Alonso, who were four seconds behind Vettel. Ricciardo reported that he had a brake failure, coming back to the pits slowly to retire from the race. Replayed showed that there was a problem with the suspension.
At the front Hamilton had got the gap down to three seconds, with Rosberg starting to struggle with the tyres again. On fresher tyres Hulkenberg went up the inside of Bottas at the first corner, pushing the Williams off the circuit, which helped the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen get past the Finn.
Bottas pitted on lap 43, another slow stop of 5.8 seconds for the Williams team. Magnussen and Alonso were the closest battle on the circuit, with Alonso trying to get through, and succeeding at the end of the back straight.
Massa was told on lap 46 that he would need another 6 laps from the tyres. Another battle was developing for 11th, with Kvyat, Vergne and Grosjean. Kvyat got ahead of Perez on lap 48
At the front and the gap between Rosberg and Hamilton was now under two seconds. Magnussen pitted on lap 48 for another set of the mediums. Perez pitted, coming out at the back of the field. Vettel also pitted from 5th for the third time, an amazing 2.3 second stop coming out in 8th.
Rosberg pitted on lap 51, with Hamilton taking the lead. It was a 2.7 second stop from the Mercedes pit crew. Massa also pitted from third, and Button came in behind him. Massa went in the wrong pit crew, losing further time.
Hamilton stopped a lap later, an even better 2.5 second stop. He came out behind, but the margin reduced still further between the Mercedes drivers. Hamilton had the DRS by the end of the same lap with tyres that had done a lap less than his team mate. The gap being just half a second.
Alonso pitted on lap 53 coming out behind Vettel, but ahead of Magnussen. Hamilton lost time, slipping to seven tenths behind Rosberg, with the German setting the fastest lap of the race. Massa overtook Hulkenberg to get back his 3rd place, with the German not stopping for his third stop yet.
Rosberg was setting faster sectors in the middle of the lap than Hamilton, but Hamilton was faster on the straights with the gap stabilising at around half a second. Rosberg set another fastest lap on lap 55, but Hamilton still had the advantage of the DRS, with the pair of them coming up on back markers.
Button was also close behind Raikkonen in 6th.
With the leaders setting a blistering pace at the front, they were 29 seconds ahead of Massa, who was in a clear 2nd. Hamilton had a small look at Rosberg on lap 59, much closer than he had been for the last few laps while they go through the traffic.
Kvyat pitted on lap 60, with Magnussen going back up to 9th. Button overtook Raikkonen a lap later on 61, but was retaken going back through the Senna S. Button went around the outside at Lake Decent, with Vettel also making his way though.
At the front and Rosberg set another fastest lap of the race, but Hamilton yet again stabilised the gap to six tenths of a second with his fastest lap of the race. Hamilton dropped a lot of time in the middle sector on lap 64, with the gap increasing to seven tenths.
Further back and the two Ferrari’s were together, with Raikkonen keeping Alonso behind. They were as close as the Mercedes at the front, but on different strategies.
Grosjean stopped his car on the circuit with five laps remaining, with Hamilton yet again closing in on the lead. At the end of the lap the gap was six tenths, with Hamilton locking up in the Senna S. Alonso remained behind his team mate Raikkonen who was holding him up. Hulkenberg overtook Magnussen behind that battle.
Alonso overtook Raikkonen for 6th at the Senna S on lap 68. Hamilton was still half a second behind Rosberg with three laps remaining.
The final lap beckoned, but Hamilton was still eight tenths behind Rosberg. Hamilton didn’t give up though, closing to six tenths through the middle sector, but Rosberg kept the margin to take the chequered flag to take the win.
Felipe Massa finished 3rd and 38 seconds behind the Mercedes team, with Button 4th, Vettel 5th, Alonso 6th, Raikkonen 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Magnussen 9th and Bottas 10th.