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  European Grand Prix: Lights-to-flag victory for Nico Rosberg

European Grand Prix: Lights-to-flag victory for Nico Rosberg

AFP
Published : Jun 20, 2016, 6:33 am IST
Updated : Jun 20, 2016, 6:33 am IST

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (centre) celebrates his European Grand Prix win in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday. Also seen are second-placed Sebastian Vettel (left) of Ferrari and Force India’s Sergio Perez, who finished third. (Photo: AP)

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Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (centre) celebrates his European Grand Prix win in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday. Also seen are second-placed Sebastian Vettel (left) of Ferrari and Force India’s Sergio Perez, who finished third. (Photo: AP)

Nico Rosberg increased his lead in the drivers’ championship when he returned to winning ways with a smoothly comfortable lights-to-flag victory for Mercedes in Sunday’s European Grand Prix.

 

The 30-year-old German, who had seen his advantage cut to nine points after three poor races, came home comfortably clear of second-placed compatriot Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

His Mercedes team-mate and defending champion Lewis Hamilton came home a frustrated fifth after a race dogged by technical problems on the tricky new Baku street circuit as Azerbaijan hosted its maiden Formula One race.

After two successive wins had lifted him back into contention for a fourth title, Hamilton slipped back to 24 points behind Rosberg whose return to form brought him his 19th career victory.

Four-time champion Vettel took full advantage of an off-form day for Red Bull and drove steadily to finish ahead of Sergio Perez of Force India who passed Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari on the final lap.

 

Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for Williams ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen with Nico Hulkenberg ninth for Force India and Felipe Massa 10th in the second Williams.

Rosberg now has 141 points in the title race and Hamilton 117.

“The weekend went perfectly for me, an awesome day,” said Rosberg.

“An incredible circuit,” said Vettel. “High speed corners and very close — and for us, a great recovery and now I’ve had two second places in a row. We are coming along ok now.”

Perez said: “Yesterday, when I hit the wall in qualifying I was very frustrated with myself, but the team did a great job to repair the car.

 

“And today after starting from P7 it was a fight all the way. It was very nice to take Kimi on the last lap!”

On a hot afternoon, with a track temperature of 49 Celsius, the race began without major drama, Rosberg pulling clear at the start ahead of Ricciardo once his car kicked into acceleration.

Hamilton held steady in tenth for two laps before swiftly rising to eighth before the first round of pit-stops. Rosberg built a lead of nine seconds in the opening six laps as Ricciardo followed Verstappen into the pits, switching from super-softs to softs.

Final standings 1. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1hr 32min 52.366sec, 2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) at 16.696sec 3. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) 25.241 4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 33.102 5. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 56.335 6. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 1:00.886 7. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1:09.229 8. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:10.696 9. Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Force India) 1:17.708 10. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1:25.375

 

Location: Azerbaijan, Baki, Baku