Rosberg holds off Hamilton to win Brazilian GP
SAO PAULO (AP) — This time, Nico Rosberg wasn’t going to let victory slip away.
A week after seeing Lewis Hamilton overtake him to win the United States Grand Prix, Rosberg fended off another strong challenge by his Mercedes teammate to secure the victory at the Brazilian GP and close in on his rival in the Formula One title race.
“It was a great weekend all in all,” Rosberg said. “Just didn’t do a good enough job in the race in Austin, today I managed to do that. I learned from Austin and did better, so that’s a big step in the right direction. One race too late, (but) there’s still all to play for.”
The German cut his points-deficit to 17 but Hamilton will keep the upper hand going into the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, where the Briton can clinch his second title with another second-place finish. If Rosberg misses out on a podium spot, Hamilton can finish eighth or better and still lift the trophy.
Hamilton has 334 points to 317 for Rosberg. The championship could not be decided at Interlagos because the race in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23 will be worth double points.
“Now I’m just hoping for (Abu Dhabi) and need to try and keep this going now,” he said.
Hamilton also started behind Rosberg in Texas but outpaced him during the race. Rosberg said it took too long for him to find his rhythm at the Circuit of Americas. It wasn’t going to happen again this time.
“I always needed to make sure that the gap was always such that there was no chance of him to go for the overtake, unlike Austin, and managed to do that, so that was good.”
It was Rosberg’s fifth win of the season and his first since the German GP in July. Hamilton was trying to win his sixth race in a row.
Felipe Massa of Williams finished third in front of his home crowd, ahead of Jenson Button of McLaren and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Vettel, the winner last year in Brazil, was fifth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished sixth, ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, the only front driver to use a two-stop strategy instead of a three-stop one.
It was the 11th 1-2 finish for Mercedes, one more than the previous record set by McLaren in 1988. The team’s 15th victory of the season also allowed it to match the record held by McLaren and Ferrari.
“We used to be always hunting and now we’re the hunted, and that’s a big change,” Rosberg said. “It’s great to see how the team has adapted and not slackened off, because that is always difficult, when you get to the front to then stay there. It seems that we’re really going strong and that’s fantastic.”
Hamilton was quickly making up ground to Rosberg near the mid-point of the race but his chances of getting close enough to attempt a pass were hurt when he went off the track and nearly spun at the end of the back straight — a mistake that put him more than seven seconds behind Rosberg.
“I was much quicker at the point,” Hamilton said. “I locked the rears and it just spun me around. No one’s fault but mine.”
Hamilton kept charging and got within a second in the final laps but was never able to make a move on Rosberg, who crossed the line 1.4 seconds in front.
“In the first stint I could see that I could control the gap and could just make sure that Lewis didn’t come into the region where he could launch an attack,” Rosberg said. “Once I saw that, I was very confident that I could keep controlling the gap for the whole race.”
Massa, who started third and ran close to Mercedes all weekend, almost threw away his chance to finish on the podium at home after a five-second stop-and-go penalty for speeding on the pit lane during his first pit stop. He also lost some time by entering the wrong pit stall in his final stop.
“I’m happy with the race, not happy with my mistakes,” he said. “I thought I could lose the podium.”
There were huge cheers from the crowd as Massa crossed the finish line in third place. The fans loudly chanted his name at the podium ceremony.
“It’s really exciting to be here after everything that happened to me in this race,” the Brazilian said. “This crowd really deserved it. The whole energy that I had this weekend, it’s difficult to explain.”
There were only 18 cars on the grid for the second race in a row. Marussia was shut down on Friday, while Caterham has a crowdfunding project underway to try to return to the grid in Abu Dhabi.
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