Nico Rosberg made it back-to-back victories with a measured drive to hold off Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Defending his lead from pole position, Rosberg controlled the pace from the front of the field, only relinquishing the lead when he pit one lap earlier than Hamilton on each occasion. After the first round of pit stops, Hamilton put the pressure on his team-mate for a number of laps but could never find a way past despite having the advantage of DRS for a long spell.
Hamilton's radio message before his second stop that "it is impossible to follow on this track" was telling, with his challenge fading late in the race and a gap that had often been under a second was finally extended to 7.7 seconds at the flag.
Sebastian Vettel came home third after a relatively lonely race, keeping the Mercedes pair honest in the opening stint before starting to slip back, but he comfortably dropped team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as the pair opted for different strategies. Raikkonen stopped just twice compared to three times for the leading trio, and he eventually came home over half a minute behind Vettel.
An excellent start from Valtteri Bottas promoted him to fifth place from seventh on the grid but he didn't have the pace to challenge the Ferraris ahead and came home a lap down in fifth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa.
Romain Grosjean scored points in ninth place after an emotional minute's silence on the grid, with the Frenchman holding up the Tricolore following the attacks on Paris on Friday. Max Verstappen took the final point with a late move on Pastor Maldonado at Turn 1 having made a number of impressive overtakes at the same corner throughout the race.
A close start saw Hamilton attempt to attack Rosberg around the outside in to Turn 1, but the pole-sitter forced his team-mate wide and Hamilton had to settle for second place. Bottas was fifth by the first corner having gone round the outside of both Kvyat and Hulkenberg, but he was unable to follow the leading quartet.
Carlos Sainz had started from the pit lane but only made it as far as Turn 5 before he stopped with a loss of power, with the marshals clearing the car under yellow flags and no safety car or virtual safety car needed. Sainz would be the only retirement in a race which 19 cars finished, with the two Manors four laps down.
The opening stint was relatively short on soft tyres before the leaders switched to mediums and that saw Hamilton move up to the back of Rosberg. For a number of laps Hamilton closed in under braking in to Turn 1, but later took a wide line to try and attack in to Turn 4 after the second DRS zone. Rosberg was wise to the move and after the attempt failed, Hamilton took to the radio to say it is "impossible to follow on this track".
While the top five held station from Turn 1, Hulkenberg passed Kvyat in the first round of pit stops to take sixth and a close battle for the lesser points ensued. Verstappen showed the full extent of his talents on lap 32, attacking Sergio Perez around the outside of Turn 1. Perez looked to have forced the Toro Rosso wide, but Verstappen kept his foot in muscled up the inside in to Turn 2. Perez was then out of shape in to Turn 3, allowing Grosjean to sweep around the Force India at high speed.
On the same lap, Pastor Maldonado attacked Marcus Ericsson in to the first corner, hitting the rear of the Sauber and tapping Ericsson in to a spin. Ericsson continued after a pit stop while Maldonado was handed a five second time penalty which ultimately cost him in the battle for the final point.
Daniel Ricciardo opted to pit after just three laps to try a different strategy having started from 19th due to a grid penalty for taking the updated power unit. However, Ricciardo could only recover to 12th place as team principal Christian Horner revealed to F1i the new engine was actually 0.15s per lap slower than the previous specification.
Rosberg's win secured him second place in the drivers' championship, while Hamilton said on the podium after the race he wanted Mercedes to switch his strategy to allow him a chance of attacking his team-mate.
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Click here for Saturday's gallery from the Brazilian Grand Prix
|01||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||71 laps - 1h31m09.090s||3|
|05||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||+1 lap||2|
|06||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1 lap||2|
|07||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||+1 lap||2|
|08||Felipe Massa||Williams||+1 lap||3|
|09||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||+1 lap||3|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+1 lap||3|
|11||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||+1 lap||2|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+1 lap||3|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India||+1 lap||3|
|14||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||+1 lap||2|
|15||Jenson Button||McLaren||+1 lap||3|
|16||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+1 lap||3|
|17||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+2 laps||3|
|18||Will Stevens||Manor||+4 laps||2|
|19||Alexander Rossi||Manor||+4 laps||2|
|20||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||DNF||0|