Formula 1

Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to win Brazilian Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg ended Lewis Hamilton's run of five consecutive wins with a hard-fought victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The German beat his team-mate by just over a second as he held the hard-charging Briton at bay in a great showdown in the final stint.

Felipe Massa overcame a penalty to claim the third and final place on the podium for Williams much to the delight of the home crowd.

Tyres dictate in blazing Brazil

As the forecast rain again stayed away the focus switched back to the durability of the Pirelli tyres as temperatures marginally lower than those on Friday again saw the soft compound struggle.

Indeed as Rosberg led away from the start with Hamilton behind, the leading cars, who started the race on the set they produced their best time in during Q2 in qualifying, could only go seven laps into the 71-lap race before needing to switch to the harder medium tyres.

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As the newly resurfaced track reached 55 degrees Celsius in the blazing sun, even the more durable white-striped Pirelli's struggled with the higher fuel loads.

This meant a three-stop strategy was used by all but certainly the Italian supplier may ignore the advice of the drivers, who called for the more aggressive approach, when F1 returns in 2015.

Massa leads best of the rest

For Felipe Massa, a man who always goes well at his home race, this year was no different as the Brazilian led the battle for 'best of the rest' despite a poor race for Williams.

After putting up a strong challenge to the works Mercedes in qualifying, Massa was 40 seconds behind the two Silver Arrows by the chequered flag, as a five-second penalty for speeding the pit-lane and going through the wrong pit-box prior to his second stop meant he had to work much harder than he otherwise would.

Jenson Button had a strong race producing some good overtakes and showing he is still worthy of a seat in F1 to claim fourth for McLaren ahead of Sebastian Vettel who also enjoyed one of his better races of the season to take fifth.

Ferrari land a bombshell?

One of the interesting stories of the race came towards the end as Kimi Raikkonen, one of only a few drivers to use a two-stop strategy, was not told to let team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was on the more common three-stop, past despite being the much quicker of the Prancing Horse's.

The reason this could be significant is because not only was it the first time we have seen the two former world champions battle each other for quite some time, but also the lack of team orders where traditionally a call would have come from the pit-wall could indicate that indeed Alonso is on his way out and the preferential treatment is over.

While that might be reading too much into one situation, and particularly given team boss Marco Mattiacci has previously said he was not there to "make Alonso happy", it certainly was an incredible sight to see the Spaniard having to fight his team-mate.

The two Ferrari's would finish in sixth and seventh in the end after Alonso had too much grip for the Finn and made an easy pass into turn one using DRS.

Rest of the top ten

Nico Hulkenberg used a different strategy to those in front starting on the medium compound tyres from outside the top ten and, after the early stops for those in front, lead for a few laps before being overhauled by the Mercedes, but by race end the different approach reaped reward as he claimed eighth ahead of Kevin Magnussen with Valtteri Bottas completing the top ten after two very slow pit-stops ruined his race.

Along with Lewis Hamilton's five-race winning streak another streak was broken in Brazil as Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire.

The Australian had scored points in 15 straight races since his retirement in Malaysia but a front-left suspension failure ended what had been a quiet race after just 24 laps.

Abu Dhabi awaits

Back at the front, however, and it all comes down to this. Nico Rosberg's victory sees him reduce Lewis Hamilton's championship lead to 17 points heading to the season finale in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time.

With double points on offer, Hamilton will have to finish directly behind Rosberg if the German wins at Yas Marina to claim a second championship by three points and as the Mercedes team break several of McLaren's records from their dominant 1988 season with their 15th win and 11th one-two finish it would take something out the ordinary to expect anything different under the lights in the UAE, but in Formula 1 you just never know.

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