Nico Rosberg, a man who has never even had a podium position in Sao Paolo, has taken a much need win to narrow the gap in the championship going into the last race at Abu Dhabi.
Starting on pole position, the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver powered away from Lewis Hamilton on a track that has been destroying tyres all weekend. They managed to get through the first corner cleanly even if Felipe Massa was waiting in the wings to pick up on any mistakes.
When the race got underway it didn’t take long for some of the leading runners to pit for tyres as the softs were blistering and going off after only five laps. The Williams of Massa was the first to jump and he sparked off a chain of every other runner on softs.
That seemed to fit the theme of the race, twenty laps (ish) and the tyres needed replacing meaning there was always good opportunities to make something happen and gain places. Although, a number of drivers – most notably Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen – suffered delays in the pit lane, for the Finn a front jack failure added to a poor day at the office that saw him finish seventh.
Back at the front Hamilton was also suffering from the tyres going off, going into turn four he slammed on the brakes and became a passenger as the back end snapped out and he ran wide. Arguably it was this over aggression on his in lap that could have cost him a stronger chance at continuing his five wins in a row streak.
It meant that Hamilton had to settle for second place with local hero Massa recovering from a five second penalty to round out the podium as Jenson Button showed he still has the skills to finish fourth place.
Behind him was a seemingly re-motivated Sebastian Vettel who pulled a few stunning moves to do a rare thing and beat his team mate Daniel Ricciardo – who had to retire due to suspected suspension failure.
Sixth place was Fernando Alonso but it could be argued that had Raikkonen not held him for a few laps on older tyres, Alonso would have been closer to Vettel.
In the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton’s lead is now only 17 points making Abu Dhabi’s double points becoming a life line for Rosberg in terms of stealing the title from under the Brit’s nose.