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GP Week : Issue 214
This time, Nico Rosberg backed up his qualifying prowess with an equally proficient race drive to keep the world championship well and truly alive going to Abu Dhabi. Aided by a quick spin from Hamilton at a crucial moment, which cost the Brit seven seconds, Rosberg was able to effectively lead all the way (other than the early tyre stop), and cut the points margin to 17. If he can win again in Abu Dhabi, Lewis must finish second to take the title. In the meantime, the 1-2 makes 11 for the season, beating the Prost- Senna record from 1988. Apart from the string of early stops due to the rapid deterioration of the Soft option tyre, the key moment in the race came as Rosberg made his second stop, for a fresh set of Mediums. That was Hamilton's cue to try for the undercut but he just, just, locked the rears and spun (where he already had in practice). Did the seven seconds cost him the race? It certainly gave Rosberg a small breather but, in the end, could he have caught and passed? It's purely speculative... It was, however, Nico's day: "Austin was a tough day for me on Sunday, so yeah, it was important for me to just improve, because just didn't do a good enough job in the race in Austin. Today I managed to do that, so that I'm happy about. One race too late but, y'know, there's still all to play for. "I always needed to make sure that the gap was always such that there was no chance for him to go for the overtake - unlike Austin. And managed to do that, so that was good." Felipe Massa managed third despite a couple of mishaps along the way, mainly in pit lane: "So many mistakes in my race. I had the drive through, the five seconds for the penalty for the sped limiter. Also I stop in the McLaren [pit box] because it was similar and it just was prepared before my garage. But the car was fantastic, I'm so grateful for the pace ..." Jenson Button had one of his best races for some time, maintaining his grid spot in what was, in that sense, quite a 'static' race. After a tough opening lap, in which he was squeezed wide over the kerbs by Kevin Magnussen and lost two spots, Sebastian Vettal's race settled and, timing his tyre stops well, he regained fifth at the flag. Daniel Ricciard, though, had a rough day. Just over half distance, he felt something strange in the car as he braked for Turn 1. He pitted, and the team diagnosed a suspension failure: "When I went into Turn One, the car went to the right and I knew there was a problem. I came into the pits and the team told me it was suspension failure and we retired. It had been a bit of a boring race, we were close to everyone but not close enough to have many fights; I would have liked to have had a bit more fun, but it didn't really happen. It's a shame, but I had a pretty good run until now, so I can't be too greedy." The most excitement Fernando Alonso had during this race was fighting to pass his own team-mate. At that stage, late in the race, Kimi – who was trying a two-stop strategy and had already unsuccessfully fought to keep Buttion at bay, – had his three-stop team-mate looming large, but didn't necessarily seem to want to make it easy. Fernando eventually dived down the inside at Turn 1. It was inevitable – Kimi's tyres were starting to look a bit shabby ... Following his reaosnable qualifying effort, eighth place was a good result for Nico Hulkenberg. Starting on the alternate 'Medium' strategy, he had a reasonably lonely race, but in the end was closing on the Ferraris as the laps ran out. Magnussen (tyre deg) and Bottas completed the top ten, Valtteri having "one of those days" which included a first stint with loose belts, lolsing time at both the first and second stops. 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BRAZIL PARTNERS: