1 Nico Rosberg
2 Lewis Hamilton
3 Felipe Massa
4 Jenson Button
5 Sebastien Vettel
6 Fernando Alonso
7 Kimi Raikkonen
8 Nico Hulkenberg
9 Kevin Magnussen
10 Valterri Bottas
11 Daniil Kvyat
12 Pastor Maldonado
13 Jean-Eric Vergne
14 Esteban Gutierrez
15 Sergio Perez
16 Adrian Sutil
17 Romain Grosjean – +8 Laps [Power Unit issue]
18 Daniel Riccardo – DNF [Front Suspension Failure]
Nico Rosberg won the penultimate round of the 2014 season today in Sao Paulo, ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The pair were separated by 1.4 seconds at the chequered flag, with the Williams of Felipe Massa finishing 41 seconds behind in third place.
Out of the 18 that started, 17 cars ended up being classified at the chequered flag, however Romain Grosjean was eight laps behind after he stopped on lap 66 with what looked like Power Unit issues. The DNF was from Daniel Riccardo, who on lap 40 suffered front suspension failure to his Red Bull, forcing him to retire.
The start of this years Brazilian Grand Prix got underway incident free, with the Red Bulls of Sebastien Vettel and Daniel Riccardo both loosing positions due to bad getaways. Riccardo later lost positions to Alonso and Magnussen at turn four, after running wide over the kerbing on exit. Felipe Massa was also unable to hook up the start, lighting up his rear tyres getting underway from the pit box.
Then after the starting positions funnelled, it was a case of tyre management. In fact it seems tyres were the story of todays race, with degradation being high on what was a very sunny day at Interlagos. So much so the first round of pitstops ended up happening as early as lap 5, with the leaders coming in around three laps later for their first set of Medium tyres.
Felipe Massa was one of the drivers that pitted early, however his advantage was short lived after a pitlane speed penalty in the form of a five second stop and go, headed his way. Rosberg and Hamilton meanwhile got caught up in traffic in their first stops, putting the de-facto lead battle right in the spotlight for around four laps before they were able to get back into the clear track.
Once the second wave of pitstops came round, Sebastien Vettel opted to pit early from ninth place in order to get he undercut on Alonso and Magnussen. That turned out well for the four-time World Champion, with him filtering through to fifth place once the second round of stops happened. One of the Medium starters, Romain Grosjean was dropping off the pace however, after going long in his first stint.
The Lotus driver was passed by seemingly everyone else at the beginning of the second stint, with his 22 lap-old Medium tyres dropping completely off the cliff. Massa meanwhile served his five second stop/go during his second stop, putting him down to P13. It ended up being a good recovery drive from Massa however, to get himself past those who had pitted earlier during that stint and were on older tyres and back into third position.
His teammate Valterri Bottas pitted a lap earlier and whilst the routine stop went ok, it ended up being a slow stop altogether for the Fin, as his team were adjusting his loose seatbelt’s, costing him valuable time in the pitlane. He emerged in 16th position, having previously been in contention to battle for fifth place with Sebastien Vettel.
Whilst that happened, the lead battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg started to get interesting. Rosberg was the first to pit out of the pair, however as he did so Lewis Hamilton proceeded to set the fastest lap of the race. Then upon looking that the timing screens, it looked like Lewis was trying to jump Rosberg in the pits.
However on what was presumably his in-lap Hamilton spun at turn four, giving away at least eight seconds of the twenty-two he had built up in order to come out ahead after his stop. From then on in it was a question of clawing back that time to Rosberg in the penultimate stint, in order to challenging him in the closing stages for Hamilton.
Whilst we saw that decrease, the McLaren of Jenson Button provided us with some entertainment, passing Kvyat who was on significantly older tyres, then running in the clear air towards Felipe Massa in order to build up a big enough gap to ensure that he had netted fourth place without having to pass too many cars in the final stint.
Kimi Raikkonen also gave us something to talk about. The Fin was attempting to two-stop, and on his 25 lap-old tyres he managed to maintain the gap in third place, despite being a second a lap slower than those around him. But Ferrari knew that was only going to waste time if they kept him out too long, and during what was the middle part of the penultimate stint for everyone else, Raikkonen pitted for what would be his final set of Medium tyres.
Disaster in the pitstops however in the form of the front jack collapsing and costing him time as his front right never screwed on properly, stopped him from being able to emerge behind the Riccardo/Alonso battle for defacto sixth place. The fin however later made up the time by not pitting in the closing stages like everyone else, getting up to P6 before Alonso on fresher tyres was able to challenge him for position.
Once we got to the final stint for everyone else, a rather comical moment occurred when Felipe Massa managed to stop in the McLaren pit box instead of his own. They of course waved him through, and lucky for him it did’t loose him too much time, but it was a rather bizarre moment in what was already a crazy race for him. Meanwhile the final pitstops for both Mercedes drivers got underway, with Hamilton just getting out behind Rosberg enough to chase him down towards the end.
It was a tense atmosphere as the Briton got close on a couple of occasions, especially when the two had to lap traffic. Once they got out into clean air, Rosberg was able to respond to Hamilton’s increasing pace by setting the fastest lap of the race twice in succession. Hamilton had the pace to catch up to Rosberg in the first stint, however once they got to the middle stint that advantage was lost, then by the time they reached the third stint it was a case of catching up to his teammate as they headed into the first sector.
And that was a cycle which more or less repeated until the end really. With five laps to go Hamilton did get visibly closer, but it was not enough to clinch the win from Nico Rosberg who took his fifth victory in 2014 for Mercedes.