Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has finished fifth at the Mexican Grand Prix won by Nico Rosberg from pole position ahead of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg survived a late safety-car phase to clinch his fourth win of the season on Sunday and 12th of his career, with the German relieved to convert pole to victory unlike the previous three races when he was beaten by Hamilton.
Hamilton, who clinched the Formula One championship last week for the third time by winning the US Grand Prix, was unable this time to mount an early challenge from the lights in F1’s return to Mexico after 23 years.
With only two victories from his last 10 poles, Rosberg took the chequered flag 1.954 seconds ahead of Hamilton in a win which puts him back to second in the drivers’ standings with two races remaining.
Valtteri Bottas in a Williams was third, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo.
Felpie Massa in a Williams finished sixth, Force India’s Nico Huelkenberg was seventh, while there was a big cheer for local favourite Sergio Perez in a Force India, who was eighth ahead of Max Verstappen in a Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean in a Lotus.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel dropped back to third behind Rosberg in the standings after an error-strewn race which ended with him veering head on into a barrier on lap 53.
Hamilton is on 345 points, with Rosberg moving to 272 while Vettel stays on 251.
Vettel’s race was compromised early on by a puncture in a contact shortly after the start with Ricciardo.
His attempts to fight his way back up the field were then thwarted by a spin on the 18th lap and a later wide turn, before the four-time world champion crashed out.
Ferrari also lost Kimi Raikkonen who retired with a broken suspension after a collision with Bottas in a battle for sixth place which the stewards assessed as a normal racing incident.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was meanwhile an early casualty of the high-altitude race, retiring on the first lap with a loss of power.
The first pit stops saw Rosberg retain his lead over Hamilton, and the German remained untroubled at some three seconds ahead around the half-way stage of the 71 laps at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Rosberg had to pit a second time for new tyres on lap 47, and in what could be a contentious issue for the team the order then came for Hamilton to pit for new mediums – but the world champion was clearly reluctant.
“Can I ask why,” Hamilton said on team radio.
“It is down to wear on the tyre. It is down to safety reasons. Box this lap,” came the reply.
“You need to check his (Rosberg’s) tyres, but mine feel good,” said Hamilton before pitting.
Vettel’s exit into the barriers led to the safety car, with Rosberg losing his advantage of some 3.5 seconds, but for the final 13 laps he managed to keep Hamilton at bay.