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GP Week : Issue 231
of the race. Tucked up behind those ahead of him under the safety car, and with conditions ever improving, Vettel bought himself a tactical advantage - all he really needed to do was stick somewhere close to the leading Mercedes and he would gain the advantage when they eventually stopped. A combination of the virtual safety car for Nico Hulkenberg's car, after the German clashed with Daniel Ricciardo, and the safety car for Kvyat's crash, ruined that plan. Under the virtual safety car the penalty for Nico Rosberg's second stop wasn't as great as it might have been, and while the Mercedes emerged in fourth he was close enough to Vettel to pose a threat. Rosberg also had far better pace, and quickly caught the Ferrari to retake second on lap 42. With the chance of victory gone, and clearly struggling for pace on the medium compound tyres, Vettel headed to the pits under the final safety car, just as Hamilton did. While it firmed up his third place finish it also ended his slim hopes of the world championship. Rosberg's strategy looked the most sound. Stopping a lap after Hamilton for slicks, he then dived for the pits under the virtual safety car on lap 38 for what would be his final stop. It meant fresh tyres, a limited loss and a pit stop advantage over Hamilton, who had yet to stop again. It was Rosberg's race to lose, but that he did with a mistake the lap after the safety car was withdrawn, running wide and opening the door for Hamilton to cruise by. Mercedes didn't have the race all its own way though, with Daniel Ricciardo and Kvyat posing a strong challenge in wet conditions at the start. The two Red Bull's clearly switched their tyres on better, and made them last longer, allowing the pair to go wheel to wheel with the two silver cars. After swapping places a few times, Ricciardo finally took the lead on lap 15, opening a six second advantage. It was short lived as in the drying conditions the Red Bulls were no match for the Mercedes', which both began struggling for pace as the race wore on. A clash with Hulkenberg not only ended the Force India drivers day but forced Ricciardo into the pits, dropping him to 11th. Another stop with a handful of laps to go cost the Australian again; as the race wore on he'd dropped from race leader to tenth by end the day. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz had aggressive races, Sainz in particular moving for ward early having started from last on the grid. Verstappen played his strategy well to end the day fourth while Sainz crossed the line sixth before a five-second penalty for pitlane speeding demoting him to seventh behind Jenson Button. The win for Hamilton means he cannot be beaten in the world championship, making him out as the first British driver to defend his world championship. 20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> UNITED STATES PARTNERS: