The battle between the Mercedes drivers was fairly routine to start with, but took a twist at the second pit stops when Hamilton attempted an alternative strategy. Ultimately he finished 8.2s shy of team-mate Rosberg, but led for ten laps in the middle of the race as he attempted to switch to a one-stop strategy before being ordered to pit for a more conventional two-stop. Although the gamble did not pay off, it injected an element of intrigue in an otherwise dull race in which the top three finished as they started with Kimi Raikkonen in third.
The result means Rosberg finishes the season 59 points adrift of his team-mate in the final standings, but carries the momentum of six straight pole positions and three straight victories into 2016. Nevertheless, it will only act as mild consolation for Rosberg, who was beaten to the title for the second season in a row this year by team-mate Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel managed to pick his way through the field from 15th on the grid to fourth, making the most of his Ferrari's pace and a different strategy to finish 24.3s behind team-mate Raikkonen in third. Sergio Perez put in a solid performance to finish fifth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India, Felipe Massa for WIlliams, Romain Grosjean in his last race for Lotus and Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat.
Rosberg made a quick getaway at the start of the race to comfortably lead into the first corner ahead of Hamilton, Raikkonen and a fast-starting Perez. At the back of the field Fernando Alonso collected Pastor Maldonado, putting an end to the Lotus driver's race and resulting in a drive-through penalty for Alonso. Rosberg initially built a gap to Hamilton, which he maintained through the first pit stops but saw close as the window for the second stop approached.
By virtue of running ahead on track, Rosberg was the first of the Mercedes to pit each time, making it nearly impossible for Hamilton to pass without an alternative strategy or a mistake from Rosberg. Unlike at the last race in Brazil, Hamilton was allowed to pursue a different approach to his tyre management and appeared to be angling for a one-stop strategy by staying out beyond the normal window for a second stop.
Hamilton believed he could keep the tyres in good condition until the flag, but on lap 41 -- ten laps after Rosberg made his second stop -- he was told to pit. Hamilton later said he wished he could have tried the one-stop strategy, which would have forced Rosberg to pass on track, but as he rejoined on lap 42 he was left in a lonely second place. Despite pushing hard, Hamilton did not have the pace to close on Rosberg again, who managed his strategy to perfection to take the win.
1 NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:38:30.175 25
2 LEWIS HAMILTON MERCEDES +8.271s 18
3 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FERRARI +19.430s 15
4 SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI +43.735s 12
5 SERGIO PEREZ FORCE INDIA +63.952s 10
6 DANIEL RICCIARDO RED BULL RACING +65.010s 8
7 NICO HULKENBERG FORCE INDIA +93.618s 6
8 FELIPE MASSA WILLIAMS +97.751s 4
9 ROMAIN GROSJEAN LOTUS +98.201s 2
10 DANIIL KVYAT RED BULL RACING +102.371s 1