Rosberg eases to Spanish Grand Prix victory

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg took his first victory of the season in the Spanish Grand Prix as he comfortably beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The race was won and lost on the run down to the first corner, with Rosberg leading comfortably but Hamilton getting a slow start and dropping behind Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari was able to hold off the Mercedes with relative ease for the first two stints, causing Hamilton to switch to a three-stop strategy.

Hamilton's strategy was effective enough to allow him to jump Vettel and ease home in second place, but Rosberg had been following the other Mercedes before his team-mate's final stop and had a large cushion to take his first win since Brazil last year, despite Hamilton checking with the team if it was possible for him to close the gap in the final laps.

Vettel came home third after bemoaning time lost in traffic in his middle stint, but the pace differential was clear as Hamilton turned a two second advantage after his final stop into a gap of almost half a minute by the end of the race.

Valtteri Bottas again finished fourth and held off a Ferrari in the closing laps for the second race in a row. This time it was Kimi Raikkonen who failed to pass the Williams, despite Raikkonen again opting for a different strategy. Having switched to the hard tyres in the middle stint and back to the mediums for the final run to the flag, Raikkonen was within a second of Bottas for a number of laps but couldn't find a way through.

Felipe Massa was a distant sixth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean, despite a gearbox issue for the Frenchman. Grosjean was also lucky to escape without damage from some light contact with team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who was having a strong race before the clash broke his rear wing and eventually forced him in to retirement.

Carlos Sainz finished in ninth place to score points in front of his home fans despite dropping back from fifth place at an alarming rate at the start of the race. The Spaniard snatched P9 from Daniil Kvyat at the start of the final lap, with Kvyat locking up and running wide in to the Toro Rosso as he tried to defend the inside line. Sainz took to the escape road in order to continue and was later cleared after being investigated for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Fernando Alonso's hopes of scoring McLaren's first points were ended early in the race due to a brake issue. Alonso ran wide at Turn 1 and returned to the pits to have the problem investigated, but was unable to stop in his box and took out his front jack, with the mechanic operating it reacting quickly to leap out of the way.

Alonso retired as a result and wasn't the only driver to have trouble slowing in the pit lane, with Grosjean hitting his jack man after overshooting his pit box as well. The Lotus mechanic held on to the jack despite being thrown backwards and still lifted the car, and was later seen laughing in the garage while icing a delicate area.

McLaren's day was a disappointment as Alonso's retirement was coupled with a difficult race for Jenson Button. The 2009 world champion complained of a wheelspin problem which left him comfortably off the pace, and he finished in 16th with only the two Manor cars of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi behind him. Such was Button's lack of pace, Maldonado was even able to easily pass the McLaren despite having made a long second stop to allow Lotus to rip off one of the rear wing endplates which had been damaged.

Rosberg's victory was an assured one after a difficult start to the season and cuts Hamilton's lead in the championship to 20 points, with Vettel now 11 points further back in third place.

Click here for Sunday's gallery from the Spanish Grand Prix

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Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 66 laps - 1h41m12.555s 2
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +17.551 3
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +45.342 2
04 Valtteri Bottas Williams +59.217 2
05 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +60.002 2
06 Felipe Massa Williams +81.314 3
07 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1 lap 2
08 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1 lap 2
09 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
10 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +1 lap 2
11 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap 2
13 Sergio Perez Force India +1 lap 2
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap 2
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1 lap 3
16 Jenson Button McLaren +1 lap 3
17 Will Stevens Manor +3 laps 3
18 Roberto Merhi Manor +4 laps 3
19 Pastor Maldonado Lotus DNF 4
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren DNF 2