Stormy looking clouds were circling the race track just as the cars were leaving the pitlane, although it wasn’t the main focus. Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso turned off at the end of the pitlane, on the other side of the Senna S, although it was confirmed that he could start from the pitlane if they could get it back up the hill again. Although he won’t take a penalty for it, Kimi Raikkonen also had to change his engine in the morning.
As the national anthem was playing, Carlos Sainz was brought back to the pits by a pick up truck.
With the grid clearing for the start of the race, only Maldonado on the grid would be starting on the medium tyre, with Sainz taking the same option although in the pitlane.
They lined up slowly on the grid, and with the lights going out it was a good start from Hamilton, but Rosberg retained the lead into the first corner. The Ferrari drivers were in third and forth, with Massa falling down the field. Carlos Sainz started the race, and then immediately stopped on the inside of the corner with no power being reported. The order being Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas.
With the field coming around for a second lap, the cars were going past Carlos Sainz at a reasonable speed, with the Toro Rosso not looking like it was going to move quickly.
Ricciardo pitted at the end of lap 3, taking a set of the medium tyres in the Red Bull. Other good battles on the track included Felipe Nasr and Romain Grosjean for 11th and 12th. The Frenchman went ahead of the Sauber on the start finish line on the same lap.
Rosberg pulled out of DRS threat from Hamilton, with the gaps also increasing behind the leading Mercedes. Bottas was slower than Raikkonen, with him also pulling away from the Red Bull behind.
Further down the order Grosjean had got onto the back of Verstappen who was also close behind Perez and just down the road from Felipe Massa. Hulkenberg pitted on lap 10. Massa did the same a lap later in the Williams, starting a chain reaction at the bottom end of the top ten. Kvyat was the first of the group to pit, along with Massa who was slightly delayed ahead of Grosjean. In the process Hulkenberg hot ahead of Kvyat.
Bottas pitted a lap later in the Williams, slightly up the road, and Verstappen did the same in the Toro Rosso. The Williams driver same out behind Marcus Ericsson. Verstappen’s pitstop was just 2.3 seconds.
Raikkonen pitted on lap 13 reacting to Bottas stopping. Rosberg came in a lap later than the Ferrari, having the choice of stop with him leading the race. It was a set of the medium tyres for the Mercedes, while he was held by the team while letting Vettel’s Ferrari pass in the pits. Bottas got ahead of Pastor Maldonado.
Hamilton stopped a lap later, and it was a 3.6 second stop for the Brit, with Rosberg reclaiming the lead. Nasr who was the last to stop stopped on the same lap. Maldonado on the medium tyre got himself up to 6th in the Lotus, running longer than the others. Raikkonen was told over the radio that they were going to try and run longer on this set of tyres.
A lock up from Rosberg on lap 18 saw Lewis reduce the gap to around half a second, before dropping back slightly again by the end of the lap. Speculation by Sky suggested that Nico Rosberg had braking issues in the Mercedes. Hamilton also complained that his tyres were not going to last, with him pushing his team mate. Felipe Massa overtook the not-stopped Maldonado at the lower end of the top 10. Kvyat had already done the same thing.
Having been faster than Rosberg, Hamilton fell back a little on lap 25 with the difference back to seven tenths. Rosberg was still slow into the first corner. Maldonado pitted on lap 26 for his first stop in the Lotus.
Having fallen back from Rosberg, Hamilton was asking the team to change his strategy, something which Mercedes haven’t done in the past. Ferrari were still quicker than Williams. Hamilton was told that they would be able to switch the tyres in the next stops, but no substantial changes to the strategy. Grosjean was still on the back of Verstappen’s Toro Rosso, while Ricciardo pitted for the second time. Verstappen had closed on the back of Perez, with him having a go at the start of lap 32. He made it stick on the next lap, with Romain Grosjean also taking he advantage at the same time.
Vettel pitted from third place on lap 33, taking on the soft tyres in the Ferrari. Rosberg pitted from the lead of the race a lap later, although this time taking the medium tyre. Lewis Hamilton had dropped back by three seconds and was told by the team that it was ‘hammertime’. Raikkonen was just a little behind the Mercedes.
Hamilton pitted on lap 25, he also had the same tyres on the Mercedes with his team mate retaking the lead again. He came out behind Raikkonen and Alonso, not working out for the world champion. Verstappen pitted a lap later, while Hamilton quickly dispatched Raikkonen for second place.
Vettel though on the soft tyre had already set the fastest lap of the race, while Rosberg was told that Hamilton couldn’t keep the pace and they would be heading to plan B. That accolade of the fastest lap then went to a recovering Hamilton who was now three seconds behind.
Massa was investigated by the stewards for having a tyre temperature 27C hotter than it should be, it would be looked at after the end of the race.
Perez had slowed, with Ricciardo closing on the Force India. Felipe Massa pitted on lap 39, while Raikkonen let Vettel ahead on newer tyres.
After hitting Marcus Ericsson, Pastor Maldonado was given a five second penalty from the stewards, and had made his way to 7th after Kvyat pitted. Grosjean was ahead of Verstappen, with Massa only slightly up the road in the Williams.
Bottas pitted on lap 42 in the Williams, taking the medium tyre – the second stop of the afternoon in a 3.9 second stop. Kvyat also got down the inside of Maldonado for 7th place.
Maldonado pitted on lap 46, while Hamilton closed the gap to the lead with a very fast lap at the front of the field. The gap was less than two seconds between the two leaders now. He lost a little bit of time on the second lap though. Kimi Raikkonen pitted a lap later, going for a two stop in the Ferrari.
Ferrari pitted Vettel a lap later, while Ricciardo was trying to pass the Force India in front. Ferrari went onto the medium tyre with 23 laps remaining.
Mercedes made the immediate response with Rosberg in the lead, with Lewis Hamilton retaking the lead. Ricciardo went down the inside of Perez at the first corner at the same time, the Force India stayed with him though. Hamilton pitted from the lead on the next lap, as per the usual strategy at Mercedes. He took another set of the medium tyres, but it was a good 2.4 second stop for the team. Rosberg once again was down the road, with Vettel behind setting the fastest lap of the race, although that was quickly eclipsed by Rosberg on his first lap.
With both the Mercedes drivers in traffic, it was slightly kinder to Hamilton bringing the gap down to 1.5 seconds and dipping under the 1:14’s for the first time. With Rosberg stuck behind Verstappen, Hamilton had DRS behind his team mate. Hamilton was a little too far behind to take advantage, and the gap went up to 1.1 seconds. Grosjean and Stevens would be the next up the road.
Ricciardo pitted on lap 54, on a different strategy to the rest of the field after his penalty. Nasr in 11th was also being attacked by Maldonado, who still has a five second penalty to take. Verstappen also pitted on the same lap along with Perez and Ericsson. Hulkenberg also said over the radio that it was starting to get quite dark.
Hamilton overtook Grosjean, although made a large lock up in the process with the Brit suggesting that he could have broken his floor. Maldonado and Nasr were battling hard, although the Sauber driver stayed in the lead. Massa pitted in the Williams from 8th.
Maldonado went down the inside of Nasr for 9th place after their close battle. Grosjean was only just behind. Rosberg said over the radio that he didn’t want to talk to him, with Hamilton just a second and a half behind.
Nasr was falling backwards with first Grosjean overtaking and then Verstappen getting ahead in the first corner. Grosjean also overtook his team mate at the same time, with Maldonado on older tyres. Vettel also said that it was getting dark, with the team telling him that it shouldn’t rain by the end of the race. Perez also got ahead of Nasr, the Brazilian now down to 13th.
At the front of the field, Hamilton couldn’t live with Rosberg with the gap increasing to four seconds. The battle of the field though was Verstappen against Maldonado who was struggling having only stopped twice. Ricciardo overtook Perez for 12th. With Maldonado battling with Verstappen, Ricciardo having overtaken Perez was closing in on them. Verstappen went down the inside of Maldonado in the first corner with four laps remaining in the battle for 10th and the final points paying position.
Hamilton was losing a lot of time, with him confirming that his tyres had gone off. He dropped back to over five seconds behind Rosberg.
It was Rosberg though would take the win, with Hamilton ending second once again with Sebastian Vettel coming home third for Ferrari.