Sao Paulo: Nico Rosberg took full advantage of one mistake by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix and keep alive his hopes of winning this year's world championship.
Rosberg's triumph ended Hamilton's run of five straight wins and reduced his lead in the championship from 24 points to 17 with one race remaining, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 23 where double points will be awarded.
Nico Rosberg is ecstatic after his win as Felipe Massa (r) looks on. Pic/ AFP
The 29-year-old German, who had dominated every practice session and started from his 10th pole of the season, came home 1.457 seconds ahead of the Briton who wasted his only chance to take the lead when he spun off the track on lap 29.
"I made a big mistake in the middle of the race," admitted Hamilton, who was trying to 'put the hammer down' in a bid to take advantage of Rosberg's second pit stop. "But otherwise the car was superb and everyone did a great job." Hamilton's error came when he stayed out for a second 'hammer' lap following a communications misunderstanding with his team. "It was only a small mistake," he said of the error that cost him seven seconds.
"But it cost me the win." He explained: "I was much quicker up to that point. I went a second quicker on the next lap. I thought I was going to pit on that lap, used all my tyres -- and on the next lap there was nothing left. "I locked the rear and went wide. It was no-one's mistake, but mine. It was a great race pushing right to the finish, which is what motor racing's all about."
The result gave Rosberg his first win and podium finish in Brazil, his first victory in eight races since triumphing on home soil in Germany in July, the fifth of his season and eighth of his career. "I am very happy with the whole weekend," said Rosberg.
"I was able to attack and control the gap to Lewis in the race. It all worked out so that is great and the support has been excellent." - Massa delights home crowd - Rosberg added that he felt confident that even if Hamilton had not had his spin, he had done the work to cover his attack and his speed. "I learned my lesson from the previous race in Austin (where he started on pole only to be passed by Hamilton)," he said. "I kept my lead and I kept him away from me so he could not make an attack.
"I knew I had to do that and to raise my game. Why? You know, my team-mate knows quite well how to drive a car. I knew I could not afford to make a mistake." For Mercedes, it was their record 11th one-two finish this year, beating the previous record held by McLaren who had scored 10 one-twos in their triumphant 1988 season with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
It also extended Mercedes' total of podiums to 30 for the season, one more than Ferrari's 2004 record of 29. Brazilian Felipe Massa came home third for Williams ahead of Jenson Button in what may have been his penultimate race for McLaren and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
"I am so happy for the race, there were so many mistakes," said Massa who inadvertently had stopped in the McLaren garage when he pitted. "I had a five-second penalty and I stopped in the wrong garage, but the car was terrific. I was so pleased with it today." Two-time champion Fernando Alonso finished sixth for Ferrari after a tense battle ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who was seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Force India, Kevin Magnussen ninth in the second McLaren and Valtteri Bottas 10th in the second Williams.
The result leaves Hamilton out in front with 334 points in the title race ahead of Rosberg on 317. Even with double points, Hamilton knows he will be champion for a second time if he can finish second in Abu Dhabi, no matter what Rosberg achieves.