As the chequered flag fell after 71 laps at Interlagos, Nico Rosberg’s second consecutive victory continued to lay the foundations for a fascinating winter break and start t0 2016. There can be no doubt that a rejuvenated Rosberg is driving better than he has all season, and while we can continue to speculate as to the reasons, a continuation of this performance into the first part of next season could see Hamilton pushed much harder in a quest for his 4th World Championship.
Outside of the Mercedes camp, Ferrari enjoyed a solid race with Vettel securing another podium and Raikkonen enjoying his first incident free race since Suzuka. A strong, if not lonely drive for Bottas ensured Williams collected their second consecutive 3rd place finish in the manufacturers standings, which will no doubt provide valuable funding as the Grove squad continue their impressive resurgence after a torrid 2013. Both McLaren’s lasted the whole 71 laps (which given their torrid season represents somewhat of a significant achievement for F1’s fallen giants) and mature drive from Hulkenberg consolidated a fine 5th place in the constructors table for the vastly improved Force India.
In our report card, we mark the drivers who finished each race with a grade from A* to D depending on how we thought they performed during the race, let us know if you agree with our grades below!
Rosberg, (0) A* – A confident and professional drive from the German. Soundly outclassed by Hamilton for much of the season, pole position and an assured and controlled win is just the tonic Nico needs as he heads into the winter break. Showed great maturity and respect in his interviews all weekend (unlike at Austin) and seems a new man following the US Grand Prix.
Hamilton (0) A – Only his teammate could stop Hamilton taking his maiden victory at Interlagos, one which would surely mean so much considering the links to his idol, the great Senna. Looked like challenging Rosberg at the beginiing of their second stint but fell away when his tyres started to degrade. Nevertheless, a strong drive and you could argue that had Hamilton secured pole position, the result might have been quite different.
Vettel (0) A – Did the best job he could in the machinery available and bought home another podium for the resurgent Scuderia. Seems a new man this season and is clearly revelling the role of “team leader” over at Ferrari. We await 2016 with great anticipation.
Raikkonen (0) B- – Solid, incident free drive to finish in 4th place, however finishing over half a minute behind his teammate in the same car again raises questions about Kimi’s ultimate pace in what surely must be his penultimate season in F1.
Bottas (+2) B – A lonely race for the Williams driver but his assured drive help clinch 3rd in the constructors table once again, solid performance. The Williams didn’t have the pace to match Ferrari, but was clearly faster than Hulkenberg behind so a race in no mans land summed up Bottas’ afternoon.
Hulkenberg (-1) A* – Fantastic drive from the German who collected some valuable points for both himself and Force India. Best of the rest behind the usual front runners, Hulkenberg has a history of going well at Interlagos and 2015 certainly did nothing to change that.
Kvyat (-1) B – Showed no significant disadvantage considering his teammate was running Renault’s new power unit. Best of the Renault powered finishers, the six points collected here by Kvyat could prove valuable in his battle for inter team bragging rights at the end of the season. He now leads Ricciardo by 10 points.
*NOW EXCLUDED** Massa (0) C – Struggled to get on the pace of Bottas all weekend a drove a doggedly determined race to bring the sister Williams home in 8th. Unfortunate to have a rare off weekend at his home race, over the course of 2015 Massa has more than proved himself once again at the wheel of the Williams. Also unfortunate to be excluded due to high type temperatures pre race.
Grosjean (+5) A – Another great drive from Grosjean in his penutimate race for Lotus. 14th after a difficult qualifying to 9th place at the end will remind everyone at Enstone just what Renault will be missing next season as Grosjean’s impressive 2015 continues.
Verstappen (-1) A – Although finishing one place further down from his starting position, another eye catching drive for Verstappen bought home another point in the teenagers stunning debut season. His move on Perez at turn 1 was one of the highlights of the race and another fine example of his trademark overtakes which have lit up races this season. Long may Verstappen’s rise to the top continue.
Maldonado (+4) C – A clumsy clash with Ericsson going into turn one did nothing but sum up Maldonado’s season. Error strewn, off the pace and leagues away from his teammate Grosjean, the bosses over at Renault must surely be concerned about the Venezuelan leading their return to F1 next season. His occasional flashes of speed are far outweighed by his clumsiness and lack of pace, especially when you consider Grosjean has sat out the majority of FP1’s this season to allow Lotus new boy Palmer valuable time in the car,
Ricciardo (+7) B – Relatively uneventful race the likable Aussie. An early pitstop to try and mix up the strategy didn’t really pay off and he found himself stuck among the midfield for the majority of the race. The new Renault power unit gave him no real advantage over Kvyat in a straight line and surely Red Bull will arrive in Abu Dhabi with one eye already on Melbourne in 2016.
Perez (-2) C+ – Difficult race for Perez after a strong showing in recent weekends before Brazil. Running well at the start until a lack of pace in his second stint saw him locked in a race long battle with Ricciardo, ultimately to finish outside of the points. His recent form however shows he is very much a capable driver and in himself and Hulkenberg, Force India find themselves with a very strong driver line up indeed.
Nasr (-1) B- – The Sauber’s weren’t able to match the other midfield runners on pace so 14th was about the best Nasr could hope for at his home Grand Prix. Whilst the start of the season showed that Sauber have a fundamentally good car, a lack of development has hindered Nasr’s ability to show his talent as the season has gone on.
Button (+1) B – Finished ahead of his teammate and also finished the race. About the best Jenson can hope for at the moment. Bring on 2016.
Alonso (+4) B – Like Button, Alonso also managed to finish the race (no early sunbeds for him this time). Just getting that Honda engine to the finish is about as much as McLaren could hope for.
Ericsson (-5) C – Overshadowed by Nasr throughout most of the season, this weekend followed a similar format to the rest of 2015 for Marcus Ericsson. Unfortunate victim of hapless Pastor’s clumsiness at turn one.
Stevens (0) B+ – Finished ahead of his teammate Rossi, otherwise a relatively uneventful race for both Manor Marussia’s. With huge improvements predicted for next season, has Stevens done enough to keep his seat?
Rossi (-2) B- – Lost out to his teammate in what was Rossi’s final GP of 2015. The only real method to compare the two Manor drivers.
Sainz – DNF
Feel free to let us know if you agree with out Brazilian Grand Prix driver ratings in the comments below.