By Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Nico Rosberg won the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix for the second year in a row on Sunday and denied Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton a first success in the homeland of his late hero Ayrton Senna.
Triple champion Hamilton, who has now failed in nine attempts to win in Brazil, finished 7.756 seconds behind for Mercedes’s 11th one-two in 18 races so far this season.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third for his 79th podium finish.
“Yeah guys, awesome,” whooped Rosberg after controlling the race from pole to chequered flag.
“It was a good challenge from Lewis but I was able to control the pace,” added the German, who refrained from too much exuberance on the podium out of respect for the victims of Friday’s Paris attacks.
“We saw Lewis dropping off a lot with degradation and that confirmed it was important to take care of the tyres.”
The victory in the season’s penultimate race was Rosberg’s fifth of the year, second in a row and 13th of his career, and secured the German second place in a championship already won by his British rival.
“I had good pace, it’s just you can’t overtake here,” said Hamilton, who started on the front row alongside Rosberg but could not find a way past his team mate into the opening corner or at the subsequent three pitstops.
“I just killed my tyres. It’s such a great track but you can’t get close enough to race.”
The Briton, who clinched his third championship in Texas last month, had looked determined to take the fight to Rosberg but the harder he tried, the more he suffered from tyre degradation.
Hamilton still set the fastest lap as a consolation.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth with compatriot Valtteri Bottas fifth for Williams and securing that team’s third place overall for the second year in a row.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was sixth with Red Bull’s Russian Daniil Kvyat seventh and Brazilian Felipe Massa eighth for Williams, although he was summoned to stewards for irregular tyre pressures.
Frence’s Romain Grosjean was ninth for Lotus while Max Verstappen took the final point for Toro Rosso after some standout overtaking moves by the 18-year-old Dutch rookie.
Verstappen’s team mate Carlos Sainz started from the pitlane after his car broke down on the way to the grid and he then retired on the opening lap of a race without major incident.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)