SAO PAULO (AP) — Nico Rosberg is dominating the tail end of the Formula One season, cruising to his second straight victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Too bad it's a bit too late.
Rosberg led from start to finish at Interlagos to beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who already wrapped up the season-long drivers' title last month in Texas. Rosberg has won both races since then, also finishing first in Mexico, and has grabbed the last five pole positions.
"I pushing now just as I was at the beginning of the season," Rosberg said after his fifth win of the season. "I don't have an exact explanation for why it's going so strongly now. But I just want to keep it going."
He can make it three in a row in the final race in two weeks in Abu Dhabi, although this victory was enough to clinch second place in the standings.
Pressed repeatedly to explain his form, the German had a simple explanation.
"I think I've just raised my game," he said. "That's it."
The race itself had little excitement as Rosberg and Hamilton spent the entire afternoon 1-2, remaining that way through three pits stops. Hamilton turned some of the fastest laps near the end but couldn't catch his teammate and rival.
Rosberg finished in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 9.090 seconds, 7.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished third and teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, exactly the way the top four racers started on the grid.
"I love this track," Hamilton said. "It's such a great circuit but it's so difficult to overtake. ... I guess for the fans, it's probably not too exciting to watch."
Four-time champion Vettel agreed.
"For sure, it was not very exciting," Vettel said. "But if you look at 10 years ago, 20 years ago it wasn't like there was an awful lot more overtaking in the race."
It was Hamilton's ninth race in Brazil, and he has yet to win. He often compares his struggle to that of Brazilian great Ayrton Senna, who needed eight attempts to win his home race.
Drivers wore black armbands as a sign of mourning for those killed in deadly attacks in Paris. In addition, a French flag decorated with a black ribbon was displayed on a truck used during the drivers' parade before the race.
The race at Interlagos was run on a dry day free of rain, which is often a feature of the Brazilian GP outside Sao Paulo.
It made for a race with few incidents, little excitement and didn't help the sport in Brazil where a deep recession and the lack of a star driver is taking a toll on interest.
Rosberg safely protected his lead at the start with Hamilton right behind. Both pitted early and Rosberg managed to hold the lead by 0.9 seconds after the first round of stops with Vettel and Raikkonen right behind.
A third of the way through, Hamilton was closing on Rosberg — cutting the gap to 0.4 seconds — with Vettel slipping seven second behind the leaders. But that was as close as Hamilton ever got.
"I'm faster but I can't get close," Hamilton said over the team radio as he began to slip further off the lead in second place.
That summed up the day. Two more pits, and the positions held with almost no passing in the entire race.
"It's shame," Hamilton said. "It's such a great track but you just can't get close enough to race unless you have a huge (speed) advantage over the guy in front."
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP