Lewis Hamilton rued a “boring” Brazilian Grand Prix after he finished behind Nico Rosberg for the second race in succession.
After ending his near five-month streak without a victory at the last race in Mexico, Rosberg rubber-stamped second place in the championship with his fifth victory of the campaign.
I had good pace, but you cannot overtake here. It is such a great track, but you can’t get close enough to raceLewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel, now consigned to finishing third in the standings, completed the podium places
Hamilton secured his third title in Austin last month, but the Briton’s wait for his inaugural victory at the home of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna will now be extended into a tenth season.
While pole-sitter Rosberg turned in a flawless display at the Interlagos track, Hamilton was on the team radio desperate to stretch the tactical imagination of his Mercedes team. “Can you get me on a different strategy somehow?’’ he asked. “I’m faster but it’s impossible to overtake.’’
His team, however, refused to break from their mantra of running identical strategies for both of their drivers. As such, Rosberg and Hamilton pitted on three occasions – a lap apart – and a rather tepid race ensued.
“I had good pace, but you cannot overtake here,” said Hamilton. “It is such a great track, but you can’t get close enough to race. I am here to race and when you are both in the same order it is like it is already set from the beginning.
“If there are any other strategies, let’s do it, let’s take a risk, let’s do whatever, and I am told to look after the tyres.
“I am like, ‘No I am racing’, and I think that is what people want to see, but unfortunately today I could not get close enough to be able to put on a great race so it was relatively boring.”
Hamilton had a sniff at passing Rosberg when the German missed the apex at Turn One midway through this penultimate race of the season – but that was largely as good as it got for the world champion, whose build-up to yesterday’s race had been disrupted following his early-morning car crash in Monaco on Tuesday.
Rosberg claimed Hamilton was never close enough to pass him, which provoked his team-mate to say: “Contrary to what Nico was saying, at one point I was all over him, but inside one second, I just couldn’t get by. I had the pace today.”
Rosberg will be wondering why he did not start the season like this. He has been on pole at the last five races, and since Hamilton claimed the title, he has won both grands prix with relative ease.
“I’m pushing now as I was pushing at the beginning of the season,” said Rosberg, who lapped the field up to fourth and crossed the line almost eight seconds clear of Hamilton.
“I don’t have an exact explanation for why it’s going so strongly now, but I’ll just keep it going.
“Lewis put up a good challenge, but I was able to control it and I never gave him a chance so I am pleased with that.”
The FIA controversially chose not to honour the at least 132 people who died as a result of Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris with a one-minute silence ahead of the race.
Instead the drivers gathered at the front of the grid to pay their respects to road traffic victims, but Frenchman Romain Grosjean used the opportunity to unfurl his country’s flag in tribute.
Meanwhile, another painful weekend for McLaren culminated in Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso finishing 15th and 16th respectively.
Home favourite Felipe Massa, who finished eighth, was later excluded from the race after a tyre breach. The decision from the stewards resulted in Grosjean taking his place, with Max Verstappen ninth and Pastor Maldonado rounding out the top ten.