An imperious drive gave Nico Rosberg victory in Sunday’s Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2015. Lewis Hamilton had no answer to his team mate’s pace, as Mercedes dominated at Interlagos, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel a distant third. Rosberg’s fifth win of the year guarantees him second place in the 2015 driver standings.
Rosberg took the initiative at the start, narrowly avoided contact with Hamilton, and held on to it throughout. Hamilton got very close at one stage, before his tyres cried enough. They eventually finished 7.7s apart after a nip and tuck battle, as the champion struggled and was being caught gently by the hard-charging Vettel. Where Hamilton’s gamble on trying to ease off and eke out more laps on a set of medium Pirellis brought no discernible advantage mid-race, Vettel’s ploy of running another set of softs for a short middle stint was likewise unproductive.
Kimi Raikkonen, on a two-stop strategy to Ferrari team mate Vettel’s three, had an undramatic run to fourth place ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, and on this occasion the two Finns managed to avoid colliding with each other.
Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat battled throughout, the Force India driver taking sixth ahead of the Red Bull. Felipe Massa finished eighth in the second Williams, but was subsequently disqualified from the results of his home race after the stewards found that his right-rear tyre did not comply with the maximum permitted temperature ahead of the start of the race.
That meant that a fine drive by Grosjean netted Lotus three points instead of two, with team mate Pastor Maldonado - who thought he'd been thwarted to the last point by Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen - picking up the final one in tenth. Verstappen, who moved up to ninth as a result of Massa's disqualification, was one of the stars of the race. After running strongly early on with Force India’s Sergio Perez and Grosjean, the Dutch rookie had breathtakingly passed the former round the outside of the Senna S on the 32nd lap. Later, having lost some ground, he did same thing to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.
Red Bull stablemate Daniel Ricciardo did the same to Maldonado but still finished behind the Venezuelan, who received a five-second time penalty mid-race for tipping Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson into a spin at the Senna S. Ricciardo was eventually classified 11th, with Perez 12th from Nasr as the Brazilian’s attempt to make two pit stops work failed to pay off.
Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso had a race-long intra-McLaren battle, which the Englishman won comfortably by 9.3s.
Behind Ericsson, Will Stevens finally got the better of Marussia team mate Alexander Rossi, in the American’s final scheduled Grand Prix of the season.
Carlos Sainz was the only retirement; after starting from the pits with technical problems he failed to complete the opening lap for Toro Rosso.