Rosberg Content With 2nd As Hamilton Forces Title Showdown
Lewis Hamilton won Sunday’s rain-delayed Brazil Grand Prix at Interlagos, and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg again settled for second. It’s the third straight race that Rosberg has been the runner-up behind Hamilton.
Is Rosberg frustrated? Not likely.
If he finishes second again to Hamilton in the season finale on Nov. 27 in Abu Dhabi — or even third —it will be enough to bring him his first drivers’ title.
“I can live with second today,” Rosberg said, ceding the stage again to the Englishman, whose victory was his first in Brazil after failing in nine other attempts. “I was hoping for the win, but second is OK.”
The German, whose father Keke Rosberg won the title 34 years ago, still leads the overall season standings with 367 points to 355 for Hamilton.
Drivers get 25 points for a victory, 18 for second, 15 for third, and 12 for fourth. The awards go all the way to 1 point for 10th place.
Sunday’s race was stopped twice by crashes in driving rain during the first 28 of 71 laps. All but a half-dozen of the early laps were run behind a safety car with drivers struggling to see through tire spray and struggling to avoid hydroplaning in standing water.
The second half was less eventful, but still was slowed by another crash and another spell under the safety car.
Hamilton, the three-time series champion, said it looked tougher than it actually was.
“This was one of the easier ones,” he said of his victory.
Hamilton said he was in “the zone” for the entire race, despite the stops and starts.
“I was chilling up front,” Hamilton said. “When it rains, it’s usually a good day for me.”
“I’m hunting,” he added. “All I can do is what I’m doing now. Abu Dhabi is usually a good track for me.”
The victory was the 52nd of Hamilton’s career, pushing him to No. 2 ahead of Alain Prost with 51. Michael Schumacher leads with 91.
The race was run behind a safety car for the first seven laps with raining pounding down and drivers trying to navigate through spray and puddles.
It didn’t take long for problems to arise as soon as the safety car pulled off.
On the 13th lap Marcus Ericsson of Sauber went into a spin and crashed, forcing the safety car to come out again.
The safety car stayed on until the 20th lap. But just seconds after it pulled off and racing resumed, Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari lost control in a spin. This time the race was stopped under a red flag.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, talking on his radio, said conditions were too dangerous. He suggested the crashes could have been worse under the treacherous conditions.
“We need to stop the race,” he said. “It doesn’t work. How many people do you want to crash?”
Hamilton led through the first 20 laps, followed by Rosberg, Max Verstappen of Red Bull, which was the final finish.
The race resumed after a 30-minute delay. But again it didn’t last long. After eight laps, officials stopped the race under a red flag, seeming to anger Hamilton.
“It’s not even that wet now,” he said on the radio, adding these were “normal” wet conditions.
Brazilian fans seemed to agree, with thousands in the stands giving the thumbs-down sign as the race was stopped again.
The race resumed after another 20-minute stoppage, which Rosberg said he filled by “eating some spaghetti.”
Compared to the first third, the second two-thirds was tense but smoother as the rain kept coming.
The safety car appeared for the final time on the 48th lap in a crash by hometown hero Felipe Massa.
Massa, who is leaving F1 at the end of the season, walked off the track with a Brazilian flag wrapped around his shoulders in his final race at home.
“I’m leaving with my head up and my heart aching,” Massa said afterward in the paddock, in tears and embraced by wife Anna Raffaela and young son Felipinho.