Rosberg holds off Hamilton for victory

20

Nico Rosberg gave his championship chances a much-needed boost by keeping Lewis Hamilton at bay for 71 laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Rosberg led his Mercedes team-mate throughout the race in order to close the gap in the championship to 17 points, with a maximum of 50 points left at the final race in Abu Dhabi for a victory. Hamilton had his chances to take the lead, but a spin ahead of his second pit stop ruined his best shot at victory. He was within a second of Rosberg in the final 20 laps but did not quite have the necessary speed advantage to make a move stick at the two best overtaking spots at Turns 1 and 4. Felipe Massa took third at his home race, albeit 39.5s off Hamilton, after a scrappy race in which the Williams driver was penalised for speeding in the pit lane and later arrived in the McLaren pit box by mistake. McLaren's Jenson Button impressed again with a solid race to fourth place ahead of the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth and seventh after a head-to-head battle in the closing stages. Raikkonen successfully recovered from a bad start on a two-stop strategy, but his worn tyres were no match for Alonso's fresher rubber and he eventually lost sixth to his team-mate three laps from the end. Nico Hulkenberg used an alternative three-stop strategy to finish eighth ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas, who finished 10th after problems at his pit stops. Daniel Ricciardo looked set for a top ten finish until a problem with his left front suspension on lap 40. At the start of the race Rosberg led Hamilton through the opening laps, but the short lifespan of the soft tyre meant both emerged further down the order after their first pit stops on laps seven and eight respectively. Hamilton then set about closing the gap to Rosberg ahead of the second pit stop and his best opportunity to take the lead. Rosberg made his second stop on lap 26, giving Hamilton clean air in which to push hard ahead of his pit stop. He took a chunk of time out of Rosberg on lap 27 but when he reached Turn 4 on lap 28, Hamilton ran wide and then spun through 180 degrees in the run off. He managed to keep the car running and rejoined the track before heading to the pits for a fresh set of tyres. The mistake dropped him seven seconds behind Rosberg and after the race he admitted it cost him a shot at victory. But Hamilton was not deterred and set about closing the gap again despite concerns about increasing tyre temperatures. At the third and final pit stops he emerged within a second of Rosberg and spent the final 20 laps hounding his team-mate. He never quite had the speed at the end of the straights to make a move stick, despite having the advantage of the DRS overtaking aid. Throughout the battle Rosberg kept his cool and kept Hamilton at bay in order to take the season down to the double-point finale in Abu Dhabi. A second place victory behind Rosberg will be enough to secure the title for Hamilton, but if he slips to third Rosberg would win the title with a victory.