Starting from pole position, Hamilton swept across Rosberg’s bows to lead, with Raikkonen taking a sniff around the outside of Rosberg at Turn 2 but settling back into third ahead of Bottas and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Nico Hulkenberg nailed Pastor Maldonado for sixth with a great lunge around the outside of Turn 3.
Hamilton led by 2.7s at the end of lap 10, with Raikkonen dropping back to 2s behind Rosberg having tailed him early on. Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 29, just as Rosberg outbraked himself at the hairpin.
Rosberg then pitted, rejoining 3.2s behind Hamilton but then carved the gap down to 1.1s by lap 33 as Hamilton went into fuel-save mode. But then Rosberg began to receive warnings about brake temperatures, and backed off again.
Hamilton was told: “Nico is safe on fuel, but a little more critical on brakes.”
Rosberg was told, by contrast, that he was doing “a really good job” on his brake saving and would be able to attack Hamilton later.
But Rosberg never got close enough to make a move, as Hamilton controlled the pace up front.
Raikkonen had dropped 7s back from Rosberg when he pitted on lap 26, and then he promptly spun at the hairpin. “Exactly the same happened last year,” he complained.
Bottas jumped Raikkonen as a result to take third, despite a leisurely pitstop.
Raikkonen made a second stop on lap 40, effectively a free stop with his gap over Grosjean, returning to the supersoft tyre. He finished fourth.
Grosjean, who had his brakes bled on the grid, threw away fifth place when he hit Will Stevens’s Manor at the chicane on lap 50, having wandered back into his path after lapping him. “He hit me, he hit me,” complained Grosjean. Stevens countered: “It was so stupid, he comes across the front of me every time, where did he want me to go, off the track?”
The stewards agreed with Stevens, giving Grosjean a 5s penalty.
Maldonado pitted on lap 18 from seventh, but then had the charging Sebastian Vettel to contend with by lap 30. Vettel passed him when Maldonado straightlined the chicane as he outbraked him, moving up to eighth.
But with Grosjean’s extra pitstop, to replace a punctured left-rear tyre, Maldonado was elevated to fifth. But Vettel demoted him with 14 laps to go with a DRS pass on the back straight.
Earlier, Vettel had attacked Hulkenberg for seventh, and his aggressive lunge around the outside at the chicane on lap 44 caused Hulkenberg to spin. “I did not touch him,” said Vettel, but Hulkenberg claimed he prompted his rotation. That cost Hulkenberg another place to the similarly charging Massa.
Massa caught Maldonado and passed him for sixth with seven laps to go.
A chastened Hulkenberg finished eighth, ahead of Daniil Kvyat – who was warned about a hot rear brake caliper as early as lap 11.
Grosjean couldn’t do anything about passing Kvyat in the closing stages, but was clear enough of Sergio Perez’s Force India to negate his 5s penalty.
Perez DRS-ed past Ricciardo into the chicane for ninth on lap 10, but wasn’t able to make it into the points.
Last year’s winner Ricciardo languished in 13th, having been passed by the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.
Burns from the stern
Q1 casualty Massa started 15th on the soft-compound tyre – unlike Vettel, who started 18th after his MGU-H failure in qualifying and grid penalty for overtaking under red flags in practice.
Vettel quickly rose to 15th by passing the Manors on the opening tour and Felipe Nasr’s Sauber on lap 2. Vettel passed Sainz for 14th at the hairpin on lap 3.
Massa pulled a great move on Fernando Alonso through Turns 1 and 2 on lap 4, and Vettel towed past the Spaniard on the backstraight, despite overshooting the hairpin with a big lockup.
Massa got stuck behind Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber on lap 7, allowing Vettel right onto his tail but Vettel peeled into the pits – and suffered a slow stop on the left-rear.
Massa finally passed him at Turn 3 on lap 9, finishing a move he started into Turn 1 and included a slight brush of rear wheels through Turn 2.
Massa dispatched Ricciardo for 10th with DRS on lap 13 on the back straight, then passed Perez and Kvyat.
After his pitstop delay, Vettel – having brushed the wall on lap 19 – tried to pass Alonso around the outside of the chicane, but Alonso wouldn’t cede ground and they touched, sending Vettel across the kerb.
Vettel eventually passed Alonso at Turn 1 on the following tour, but only after Alonso had held him off again through the chicane.
By lap 26, Vettel was back in the points after tearing through the midfield runners, and his two-stop strategy (supersoft-soft-soft).
Max Verstappen charged up to 17th on the opening lap, and was up to 15th after passing Nasr with a great move into Turn 1 on lap 11. He finished 15th, unable to pass Ericsson.
Both McLarens were forced to retire again, Button (who served a lap-one drivethrough penalty) making it as far as lap 58. Alonso was already out, but not before a rant over the radio when asked to save more fuel.
|Pos||Driver||Car / Engine||Time/Gap|
|8||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India/Mercedes|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India/Mercedes|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault|
|15||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault|