Rosberg holds off Hamilton as Vettel crashes

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg held off team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the Mexican Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the race.

Pole-sitter Rosberg managed to retain his lead on the long run to Turn 1 and then set about maintaining a gap to his team-mate which looked set to result in a relatively comfortably victory. However, Vettel - who had suffered a first lap puncture - then crashed at Turn 7 to bring out the safety car and bunch up the field, allowing Hamilton to put the pressure on Rosberg.

In the final laps, Rosberg had enough pace in hand to keep Hamilton at bay, with the newly-crowned world champion making a mistake in the middle sector on the one occasion he had got within DRS range.

Valtteri Bottas came home third behind the two Mercedes after passing Daniil Kvyat at the restart following the safety car period, which came with 13 laps remaining. Kvyat led home team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with Felipe Massa in sixth place.

The two Force Indias were seventh and eight - with Nico Hulkenberg beating home favourite Sergio Perez - while Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

The start of the race promised drama but the Mercedes pair behaved themselves as Hamilton failed to really attack Rosberg around the outside in to Turn 1. Further back, Kvyat jumped Vettel off the line and then the Ferrari cut across Ricciardo in to the first corner, with Vettel getting a puncture from the slight contact.

Fernando Alonso retired at the end of the opening lap due to an MGU-H issue which he later revealed was known to McLaren, with the team keen to start the race in front of over 100,000 fans at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

The Williams pair pit early to switch from soft to medium tyres with track temperatures much higher than had been seen at any stage in the weekend, but the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes went longer in an attempt to one-stop.

Kimi Raikkonen had started on mediums from the back of the grid due to power unit penalties and climbed up in to the top ten during the pit stop period before Bottas caught the Ferrari. The two have history from the Russian Grand Prix - where Raikkonen hit Bottas on the final lap - and this time the roles were reversed as Bottas went round the outside of Turn 4 and held the inside line for the next corner but had Raikkonen turn in on him.

Contact was inevitable and Raikkonen's right rear suspension was broken immediately, with an investigation in to the incident warranting no further action.

There was a surprise second stop for Rosberg in the middle of the race with Mercedes worrying about tyre wear and Hamilton questioned the decision to follow his team-mate. Having opted not to pit first time round, Hamilton relented and came in to the pits, telling the team over radio that he felt it was the wrong decision. However, both drivers had enough of an advantage to remain in first and second.

Vettel was struggling to recover through the field on the medium tyres after his early puncture and spun at Turn 7 before later running wide attempting to pass Pastor Maldonado at Turn 1. A second stop was required which dropped Vettel back down the field before he went straight on at Turn 7 again, hitting the barrier and bringing out the safety car.

With the majority of drivers pitting for fresh rubber, Perez was the only man aside from the Mercedes pair not to stop, and he managed to hold on to eighth place as the final few laps passed largely without incident. Bottas had pit a lap later than the rest of the field and dropped behind Kvyat but easily passed the Red Bull on the restart to secure his second podium of the season.

Perez did provide two highlights for the vocal home crowd in the perfect place, twice passing Toro Rossos in the stadium section. On the first occasion, Carlos Sainz relinquished a position due to running wide in defence earlier in the lap, while Perez then passed Verstappen at the same point after a mistake from the Dutch driver.

Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 71 laps - 1h42m35.038s 2
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.954 2
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams +14.592 2
04 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +16.578 2
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +19.682 2
06 Felipe Massa Williams +21.493 2
07 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +25.860 2
08 Sergio Perez Force India +34.343 1
09 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +35.229 2
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus +37.934 2
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +38.538 2
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +40.180 3
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +48.772 3
14 Jenson Button McLaren +49.214 2
15 Alexander Rossi Manor +2 laps 2
16 Will Stevens Manor +2 laps 2
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber DNF 3
18 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF 2
19 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari DNF 0
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren DNF 1

AS IT HAPPENED: Mexican Grand Prix

Click here for the F1 drivers' girlfriends gallery

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter