Race Report: Rosberg keeps hope alive with win in Brazil

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The Brazilian Grand Prix turned out to be a dry race even though predictions had a possibility of rain. The race, however, still had dram with Pirelli’s high-degradation tires prompting three-stop strategies for most teams and only the most adventurous settling for a two-stopper.

After 71 laps, Mercedes AMG Petronas driver, Nico Rosberg, claimed victory in a race he desperately needed to win in order to stop the decay of his title chances. The win shaves Lewis Hamilton’s point lead from 24 down to 17 as we head into the season finale in Abu Dhabi that pays out double points.

Nico dominated the weekend in Brazil having led all practice sessions as well as qualifying sessions and even with pressure mounting from Hamilton, Rosberg held off his teammate, managed the gap and his tires to secure the win. Rosberg had be accused of not being able to hold off Hamilton and there is evidence of that this season but in Brazil, he had to do it and did.

Hamilton attempted to throw down two hot in-laps just prior to his second pit stop but on dodgy tires, he spun at turn 4 and cost himself an estimated seven seconds to Rosberg. Some suggest he would have had a 0.3s lead had he not spun. Hamilton later radioed the team and told them he can’t do a two-lap shot like that again prompting and apology form the team after the race.

Regardless, Hamilton drove a patient and measured race to second and a win would not have secured the title for him in Brazil so the pressure is on Nico, not Lewis. Patience is also what it took for Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa to claim the third step on the podium at home.

If Nico Rosberg wins in Abu Dhabi, Lewis can finish no worse than second to claim the title.

As many suggest the sun is setting on Jenson Button’s F1 career, the British world champion threw down a stonking drive to finish fourth while his teammate—much rumored to be the driver McLaren will keep—struggled to 9th. There are many drivers on the F1 grid incapable of hanging with Button and it would be a shame if the Brazilian Grand Prix was the penultimate race of his career.

Toro Rosso’s race sunk under the pressure of a weak strategy as Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas pushed the young Russian just out of the points but as much as that hurt, his teammate was never a factor as Jean-Eric Vergne finished 13th.

Pirelli’s choice of compounds created a lot of drama as teams struggled with blistering, high wear and graining all weekend.

Win

Win

Felipe Massa claims a win as he scored a podium finish despite his own efforts to ruin his race by a 5-second pit lane speeding penalty and then stopping at the wrong pit box. Regardless, he managed to remain patient and finsish 3rd.

A win for Button who showed the world that his time in F1 is not over as far as his skills are concerned and that only politics and money could justify his non-inclusion in the 2015 season—a great 4th place drive and battle with Kimi Raikkonen.

Nico Hulkenberg had a good result after struggling of late with his 8th place finish. The German started on the harder or Prime compound and led the race for a brief while.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel quietly drove to a nice 5th place finish while his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo suffered a DNF with a suspension failure on lap 40.

Fail

Fail

Daniel Ricciardo suffered a suspension failure that, if memory serves, is the first DNF since Malaysia.

A fail for Valtteri Bottas who looked on pace with his teammate, Felipe Massa, but suffered a 5.9 second pit stop and was shoved off track by Nico Hulkenberg only managing to finish 10th while his teammate, with equal troubles managed a podium.

Both Saubers suffered a dismal race to finish 1th and 16th and Force India’s Sergio Perez struggled to recover from his 7-place grid penalty to only manage 15th.

WTH

It may be easy to do but veteran Felipe Massa decided he’d stop at the wrong pit box during his stop costing serious time. Thankfully Jenson Button wasn’t close enough to take advantage of the gaffe but Massa also sped in the pit lane and suffered a 5-second penalty in a race that many felt might have Williams mixing it up with the Mercedes duo.

Ferrari’s front jack system needs a serious re-think as it failed dropping Kimi Raikkonen’s car too early with an unsecured front right wheel. Kimi came out in 13th place so his recovery drive and ability to dice it with out-going Alonso was a noble effort.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean suffered another DNF, the seventh of the season, in a team that one would hope had at least gotten on top of some semblance of reliability at the next to last race.

At the bottom of my notes, I hate boldly scrawled…WTH!! When Nelson Piquet’s only comment to Lewis was, “where’s your hot girlfriend” I was stunned. Thankfully he had a follow-up question but that was out of sync and odd too. Nelson wins the prize!

Results

1Nico RosbergMercedes1h30m02.555s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1.457s
3Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes41.031s
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Mercedes48.658s
5Sebastian VettelRed Bull/Renault51.420s
6Fernando AlonsoFerrari1m01.906s
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m03.730s
8Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m03.934s
9Kevin MagnussenMcLaren/Mercedes1m10.085s
10Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
12Pastor MaldonadoLotus/Renault1 Lap
13Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
14Esteban GutierrezSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
15Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
16Adrian SutilSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
17Romain GrosjeanLotus/Renault8 Laps
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/RenaultRetirement
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