Mexican GP: Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to end win drought
Rosberg rebounds from Austin frustration to claim first victory since June; Hamilton briefly ignored Mercedes call to pit for second time; Vettel crashes out amid recovery from lap-one puncture
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 05/11/15 11:44am
Nico Rosberg finally converted a pole position into a race victory again by beating Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes-dominated Mexican GP.
A week after gifting his team-mate the win in Austin with a late error - a result which confirmed Hamilton as the 2015 world champion - Rosberg made no mistake this time to claim his first win since June's Austrian GP.
Rosberg led from the lights, ensuring an anticipated heated first corner battle never materialised, although a twist in proceedings briefly seemed on the cards when Hamilton stayed out an extra lap at the second stops to question whether his tyre wear really required an extra visit to the pits.
A late Safety Car - called for a crash for Sebastian Vettel, who endured an unusually torrid race - wiped out what had been Rosberg's three-second lead, but the German, despite a brief off-track moment, stayed out front when racing resumed and claimed just his fourth win of the year.
Hamilton, who also ran wide late on as he attempted to apply the pressure, finished 1.9 seconds back to confirm Mercedes' 10th one-two finish of the year. The world champions' drivers are now also back in formation at the head of the Drivers' Championship as Rosberg moved back ahead of Vettel.
"It feels amazing. Great race, great battle with Lewis and I am really, really happy to get the win. This is the best podium of the year," said a delighted Rosberg as the drivers took to the atmospheric podium, which is situated in the heart of the circuit's stadium section.
Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, returned to the podium for Williams after the most eventful of runs to third place. The Finn's car emerged unscathed from another collision with countryman Kimi Raikkonen - the Ferrari was not so lucky and retired on the spot - and then he unfathomably completed the final 62 laps on the same set of medium tyres to beat the Red Bulls.
Kvyat, who was passed by Bottas at the restart, and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished close behind in fourth and fifth respectively, with Felipe Massa sixth in the second Williams.
But the first Grand Prix in Mexico for 23 years belonged to Rosberg, just seven days after the German's frustration at his run of 2015 race-day defeats to Hamilton appeared to boil over in the aftermath of his team-mate's title win in Austin when he slung his second-placed cap back at Hamilton.
"Nico Rosberg, on the day before the dead rise again, he has shown there is life in the old boy yet," said Sky Sports F1's Damon Hill in reference to Mexico's 'Day of the Dead' celebrations which take place on Monday.
The world champion, meanwhile, congratulated his team-mate on his victory: "Nico drove a fantastic race. I've never seen a crowd like this, it is like a football game."
Although Hamilton's goal for the season, a third world championship, had already been achieved before his arrival in Mexico City, Rosberg's win means the Briton's chance to equal the record for the most wins in a single campaign has ended.
Rosberg, holding the inside line on the long run to Turn One at the start, enjoyed a lead of around two-three seconds through the first two stints of the race with the German seemingly able to up his own pace when Hamilton clocked a new fastest lap.
But despite expectations that Mercedes would complete just one tyre stop, Rosberg was suddenly called into the pits for the second time with 25 laps to go.
Hamilton, as the second car on the road, stayed out but was then instructed to pit next time round himself. "Can I ask why?" enquired the world champion to his race engineer over the radio, with the response coming that the team were pitting both their cars for safety reasons.
Hamilton, protesting that his tyres felt fine, responded "you need to check his tyres, my tyres are still good", as he ignored the instruction and stayed out for an extra lap.
After being urged by his engineer to pit next time round, and told Rosberg's tyres were down to the canvas, Hamilton duly pitted. However, on his return to the track in second, he remained far from convinced that his tyres had been in such bad shape: "Check those tyres and let me know. I want some feedback on them."
Mercedes had the relative luxury of stopping their cars for the second time as expected nearest challengers, Ferrari, endured a dismal race.
Vettel was knocked out of front-running contention at the start after he picked up a puncture via a clash with former team-mate Ricciardo into Turn One.
After pitting for a tyre change, the German started to pick his way back through the field from the back before spinning off the road at Turn Four. Although he stayed out of the barriers on that occasion, he was not that lucky later on when he left the road again at the same point, this time hitting the barriers hard.
Team-mate Raikkonen, meanwhile, had started from the back row after a 30-place grid penalty for engine changes and his promising recovery was ended in a tangle with Bottas, the Finnish pair's second collision in three races. Unlike in Russia, when the Williams ended up in the barriers, it was the Ferrari which came off worse on Sunday.
Ferrari's double DNF represented the first time neither of the team's cars had been classified since the 2006 Australian GP.
But while the Scuderia registered a rare no-score, Force India secured their latest double points finish to strengthen their hold on fifth place in the Constructors' Championship. Nico Hulkenberg finished ahead of home hero Sergio Perez in seventh place.
Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen and Lotus's Romain Grosjean rounded out the points positions, with McLaren's two-race scoring run ended at the end of the former champions toughest weekends in several races. Starting from 18th and 20th following yet more engine penalties, Fernando Alonso only lasted one lap, courtesy of a MGU-H problem, while Jenson Button finished 14th, ahead of only the Manor cars.
Mexican GP result
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 71 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +1.954
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +14.592
4. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, +16.572
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +19.682
6. Felipe Massa, Williams, +21.493
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, +25.860
8. Sergio Perez, Force India, +34.343
9. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, +35.229
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, +37.934
11. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, +38.538
12. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +40.180
13. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +48.772
14. Jenson Button, McLaren, +49.214
15. Alexander Rossi, Manor, +2 laps
16. Will Stevens, Manor, +2 laps
Felipe Nasr, Sauber, Not Classified
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Not Classified
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Not Classified
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Not Classified