Sebastian Vettel took his first pole as a Ferrari driver, breaking Mercedes streak of 23 straight, the second longest ever in F1. Hamilton and Rosberg occupied Row 3, P5 and 6 respectively. Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen lined up third. Mixed into the front of the gird was Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo qualifying on the front row (the constructor’s first Top 3 start of the year) and Daniil Kvyat starting next to Raikkonen.
Alexander Rossi made his F1 race debut, the first American to compete in 7 years, starting last in one of the Manor entries.
Rosberg’s power unit failed following the reconnaissance lap due to driver error. He managed to refire the unit during the run-up to gird formation but initially couldn’t get it out of first gear. The team resolved the problem and Rosberg made it to the grid as scheduled.
The Top 6 remained intact through the opening 11 laps (of 61), Vettel’s lead reaching 4.9 sec during Lap 9 but down to 4.1 by Lap 11. The virtual safety car came out during Lap 13 when Felipe Massa (Williams) punted Nico Hulkenburg (Force India) into the wall while exiting the pits. Vettel pitted from the lead the next lap.
The actual safety car came out to allow track clean up, rebunching the field (the virtual safety car freezes the field in place, including gaps between the cars). Green-flag racing resumed to start Lap 19, with Kvyat having cycled down to P6 during the pit stops.
Hamilton partially lost power during Lap 26 but continued to run as the team’s engineers tried to sort out what was happening. He fell to P16 in a matter of minutes, Kvyat returning to the Top 5. Vettel, meanwhile, had built a 4 sec advantage on Ricciardo. Hamilton pitted in Lap 33. The safety car came out during Lap 37 due to a person on the track.
Vettel and Ricciardo pitted under the caution, leading a Top 5 that also included Raikkonen, Rosberg, and now Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Kvyat having once again lost ground during the pit cycle. The second caution increased the likelihood that the race would end at its 2-hr time limit instead of after 61 laps.
Live action resumed to start Lap 41. By Lap 44, Vettel had pulled out to a new 2.5-sec lead over Ricciardo. Lap 55 saw the lead at 3.1 sec.
The final Top 5 remained intact as Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Rosberg, and Bottas. The win was Vettel’s 42nd career victory, moving him ahead of Ayrton Senna into third on the all-time list. Raikkonen’s podium finish moved him into fourth in the driver standings, with Bottas rising to fifth. Both passed Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, who DNFd and fell to sixth. Ricciardo also moved up, trading places (7 and 8) with teammate Kvyat. Sergio Perez (Force India) rose to ninth, passing Romain Grosjean (Lotus).