Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) took pole by 0.706 sec, teammate (P10) Lewis Hamilton having made it to the final round of qualifying before a power unit failure sidelined him early in the session. Ferrari continued to suffer reliability issues, Sebastian Vettel getting a five grid-spot penalty for a transmission change to line up seventh. Russian Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) qualified eighth.
Rosberg came into the race having won six-straight and carrying a 36-point lead in the driver standings. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) started next to the German, with Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Felipe Massa (Williams) make up Row 2 and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Sergio3 Perez (Force India) Row 3, and Max Verstappen (Toro Rossa) P9
Raikkonen jumped Bottas for second at the start, with Vettel crashing out at Turn 3 of Lap 1 after twice getting hit from behind by Kvyat and the safety car deploying. Bottas retook second on the Lap-4 restart, the sparring between he and Raikkonen allowing Rosberg to open up a 3-sec lead in the first lap back under green. Hamilton passed Raikkonen for third during Lap 7.
Kvyat served a 10-sec penalty during Lap 10 (of 53) and rejoined the race at the back of the pack. Rosberg’s lead was 12.4-sec during Lap 16. Bottas pitted from second two laps later. Hamilton followed during Lap 18. Bottas initially retained P2, but Hamilton made it around him. Raikkonen pitted three laps later and came out ahead of Bottas. Rosberg pitted from and retained the lead, followed by Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Hamilton cut Rosberg’s lead down to 8.5 sec during Lap 34 as the leader navigated through traffic. A Sector-1 caution came out the next lap as Verstappen stopped on track with an engine failure. Hamilton was told he had a water pressure issue during Lap 39 but continued to run second. Rosberg, meanwhile, set a circuit-record racing lap, pushing the lead back out to 11.6 sec.
Hamilton’s situation stabilized by Lap 42, 13 sec behind Rosberg. By the final lap Rosberg held a 20-sec lead on the way to his seventh-straight victory, joining Alberto Ascari (1952-53), Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013) as the only drivers to win that many in a row. Hamilton came in second, Raikkonen third, Bottas fourth, and Massa fifth. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) finished P6 and teammate Jenson Button (P10). Romain Grosjean (Haas) finished eighth.
Raikkonen’s finish moved him into third in the driver standings, leap-frogging Ricciardo and Vettel.
Driver standings (Top 10)
Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 100
Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 57
Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari – 43
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – 36
Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Ferrari – 33
Felipe Massa (Brazil), Williams-Mercedes – 32
Romain Grosjean (France), Haas-Ferrari – 22
Daniil Kvyat (Russia), Red Bull – 21
Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 19
Max Verstappen (Netherlands), Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 13
Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 157
Ferrari (Vettel, Raikkonen) – 76
Red Bull Racing (Ricciardo, Kvyat) – 57
Williams-Mercedes (Massa, Bottas) – 51
Haas-Ferrari (Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez) – 22
Toro Rosso-Ferrari (Carlos Sainz Jr., Verstappen) – 17
Force India-Mercedes (Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez) – 8
McLaren-Honda (Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button) - 6
Next event: Grand Prix of Spain – Catalunya, May 13-15, 2016