James Allen's key moments, as they happened
With the longest run to turn 1 of any track in the season, the Teams will have done a lot of preparation this weekend for the race start, with the laps to the grid being critical for optimising the start process. This will be an interesting race strategy wise, as the circuit is very aggressive on the tyres, especially the front left tyre. The Teams will be closely monitoring the early stages of the race to decide on whether to go with the safer 3 stop strategy or the potentially faster but more risky, from a tyre degradation perspective, 2 stop strategy.
Poor start for Rosberg, who trails Hamilton in 2nd place. Bottas has a great start moving easily up into 3rd. At the end the lap it is Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Räikkönen, Alonso, Massa, Hulkenberg, Perez with Vettel in 14th position.
Hamilton is 7.8 secs ahead of 3rd place Bottas, pulling away at nearly 1.5 seconds a lap from the other teams.
Race control flag that the stewards are investigating an incident between Maldonado and Ericsson – Maldonado gets a 5 sec stop/go for causing the accident.
After failing to overtake Bottas, Ricciardo is told to drop back from Bottas to hold a 2 second gap to protect the tyres and cooling. Despite this call Ricciardo has another go at Bottas and almost manages to overtake him but is forced to drop back, albeit not by the 2 seconds which Red Bull have requested. He needs to make this move work quickly or he will damage his tyres due to accelerated tyre energy and ultimately impair his finishing position.
Hamilton is 23 seconds ahead of Perez in 10th position which is approximately a pit stop.
Hamilton is driving supremely and is 2.8 seconds ahead of his teammate Rosberg.
Vettel is the first to pit on to the hard compound tyre. Bottas continues to frustrate Ricciardo with the Red Bull clearly having more ultimate pace.
Rosberg’s radio comment is very interesting, mentioning that there is no graining on the option tyre and starts to push harder.
Ricciardo pits effectively undercutting Bottas; with their better pitstops and a very aggressive pit entry by Ricciardo, the Red Bull should take the place from Bottas. Williams need to try and stick to their original plan as they will lose the place if they stop this lap.
Alonso pits to try and undercut his teammate Räikkönen but hits traffic and the undercut just fails with Räikkönen staying ahead.
Hamilton told to push hard in readiness for his stop which is the next lap.
Hamilton’s stop is relatively slow (3.8 seconds) due to a delayed front left, but he should have enough time in hand to Rosberg that it shouldn’t matter, albeit with Rosberg just setting the quickest race lap.
Hamilton responds with a new quickest lap – there will be a lot of discussion on the pitwall on how to beat to him.
The 2-stopping Bottas pits and comes back out 12 seconds behind Ricciardo who may be 3 stopping (but can still do a 2 stopper).
Rosberg pits for hard tyres (different to Hamilton who went out on the medium tyres) coming out 3.5 seconds behind Hamilton.
Vergne has to retire with an exhaust issue.
There is a great battle for 5th between Grosjean and Räikkönen, with Räikkönen eventually taking the position. Unfortunately for Lotus, Grosjean looks to be having a Power Unit issue with his car as Alonso also takes Grosjean on the straight.
Hamilton requests for help to reduced oversteer. His race engineer immediately replies to adjust his differential settings (closing it on exit) in turns 4 or 5.
Alonso pits and gets out just ahead of Massa and immediately successfully attacks Magnussen, whilst Räikkönen stays out. Race control flags up that Ericsson is being investigated for ignoring blue flags on Räikkönen – will this impact Räikkönen’s lead over Alonso?
The gap between the two Mercedes stays unchanged and Hamilton realises that it will be a close fight at the end with Rosberg when Rosberg puts on the quicker medium tyre compared with Hamilton’s hard tyre during the last stint.
Mercedes call Hamilton to box but Hamilton doesn’t react so the pit crew have to put the tyres back in blankets – which is bad news for both tyre temperatures and pressures.
Hamilton pits and the stop is relatively slow at 4.3 seconds – this could be enough of a delta to give the lead to Rosberg.
Rosberg pits with a 3 second stop, with Rosberg rejoining the track 6 seconds behind Hamilton but on the quicker, medium compound tyre, so they should be fighting for position closely at the end of the race.
Bottas pits after Ricciardo does, to effectively cover both Ferraris for 4th position as they are too far behind Ricciardo.
Hamilton’s radio traffic highlights that he is clearly frustrated in the car, querying the slow pit stops, front wing settings and strategy choice, even though he is leading the race.
Hamilton is 40 seconds ahead of 3rd place Ricciardo and 73 seconds ahead of 10th place Perez!
With 13 laps left the order is Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Bottas, Räikkönen, Vettel, Grosjean, Perez, Hulkenberg
Alonso pits on his 3 stop strategy, coming out behind the Vettel which is also on a 3 stop strategy. Vettel had started from 15th and is now in 6th and is the fastest car on track.
Vettel takes Räikkönen for 5th place and will be hunting down Bottas for 4th place, albeit with Bottas 5 seconds up the road. If Vettel can maintain this pace he should catch Bottas in the closing stages of the race. Vettel told on the radio to “close the gap progressively” to maintain some tyres for the overtake move.
Hamilton is struggling with his front tyres.
There are interesting fights for position throughout the race. Räikkönen and Alonso are fighting for 6th position and Bottas and Vettel are fighting for 4th position.
Alonso takes Räikkönen for 6th and Vettel takes Bottas for 4th – fantastic racing and driver control.
With 2 laps left both Mercedes are fighting hard as they approach to lap the two Ferraris.
Hamilton does very well to hold onto the race win – the Mercedes has a great Power Unit as well as fantastic chassis and aero package. Final top 10 order: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Vettel (drive of the day), Bottas, Alonso, Räikkönen, Grosjean (welcome first points for Lotus), Perez, Hulkenberg.