The driver championship remained on the line at the start of the race, 12 points separating Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. A Rosberg podium finish would clinch the title. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) had already clinched third in the championship. The race was also the last Formula 1 contest for Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) and Felipe Massa (Williams).
Hamilton took the lead at the start, Rosberg slotting in P2, and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) passing Ricciardo to move into third. Hamilton pitted during Lap 8, Rosberg and Raikkonen following one lap later. Rosberg returned to the track with Max Verstappen (Red Bull) between him and Hamilton. Verstappen spun in the race’s opening moments and had not yet pitted.
Rosberg passed Verstappen on track during Lap 20 (of 55), the Dutchman pitting the following lap, pursuing a one-stop strategy. Hamilton’s lead on Rosberg at Lap 25 was 4.1 sec. The Brit made his second stop in Lap 29. Rosberg followed the next lap. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) led the race during Lap 37, having only pitted once. He came in the following lap.
Hamilton, Rosberg, and Verstappen ran 1-3 at the 41-lap mark. Hamilton was running off the pace at the front, collapsing the field behind him. Vettel took third from Verstappen during Lap 51. Mercedes told Hamilton to pick up the pace to win the race. Hamilton responded that he was already in the lead and comfortable.
Rosberg finished second to take the title, following in the footsteps of his father Keke, who won the championship in 1982. Hamilton’s unwillingness to comply with team orders continued to the end. Vettel did not force the issue and finished third.
Driver standings (Top 10)
Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 385
Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 380
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – 256
Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Ferrari – 212
Max Verstappen (Netherlands), Red Bull – 204
Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari –186
Sergio Perez (Mexico), Force India-Mercedes – 101
Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 85
Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Force India-Mercedes – 72
Fernando Alonso (Spain), McLaren-Honda – 54
Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 765
Red Bull Racing (Ricciardo, Verstappen) – 468
Ferrari (Vettel, Raikkonen) – 398
Force India-Mercedes (Hulkenberg, Perez) – 173
Williams-Mercedes (Felipe Massa, Bottas) – 138
McLaren-Honda (Alonso, Jenson Button) – 76
Toro Rosso-Ferrari (Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniil Kvyat) – 63
Haas-Ferrari (Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez) – 29
Renault (Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer) – 8
Sauber-Ferrari (Felipe Nasr, Marcus Ericsson) - 2
MRT-Mercedes (Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon) – 1
Next event: Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne, Mar. 23-26, 2017