Nico Rosberg claimed victory in the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, his first of 2015, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after starting from pole.
Rosberg jumped out to a comfortable lead at the start and was never seriously challenged for the top spot.
Hamilton had a more eventful race.
The defending World Champion stumbled at the start and had to use a combination of pit strategy and pace to overtake Vettel for the runner-up spot on the podium, ultimately finishing over 17s behind Rosberg.
Ferrari struggled to find the pace to rival the Mercedes duo.
Vettel fought through lapped traffic to nab the final spot on the podium, but finished 45s behind the race winner.
Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s teammate, started the Spanish Grand Prix from the seventh spot and made quick work of the Toro Rosso duo in front of him, passing both on the opening lap and sliding up to fifth. The Finn reeled in Williams driver Valtteri Bottas in a battle for fourth, but not even the benefit of DRS could help Raikkonen get past his fellow countryman.
Bottas’ teammate Felipe Massa came home a quiet sixth.
After faltering in qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo ensured Red Bull Racing a top 10 result, finishing seventh just ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
One of the highlights from the weekend was the rookie duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen.
The Toro Rosso pair had a sensational qualifying session, breaking into Q3 and out-performing the senior team of Red Bull Racing, with Sainz Jr. leading the way with a fifth place grid start at his home circuit.
The two drivers battled all race long, with Sainz Jr. receiving an enormous applause along the main straightaway after passing Verstappen with the help of DRS in the closing laps.
On the final lap Sainz Jr. forced his way pass Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat, making contact with the Russian through Turn 1. Kvyat held his line and the Spaniard was forced across the rumble strips, but it wasn’t enough to hold the rookie back.
The FIA confirmed that the incident was under investigation after the checkered flag fell.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso had a promising start at his home Grand Prix, settling in the points early on, but a brake failure cut his day short as he was forced to retire just 26 laps in.
The win could prove to be the turning point of Rosberg’s season as Formula One heads to Monaco, a venue that the Mercedes driver has won at each of the last two seasons.
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Image: Mercedes AMG F1