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Nico Rosberg wins 2016 European Grand Prix

SB Nation logoSB Nation 19/06/2016 James Brady

© Mark Thompson/Getty Images Nico Rosberg of Mercedes won the Formula 1 European Grand Prix on Sunday.

The inaugural race at Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan was a great success, with surprisingly few incidents on race day.

It was surprising given how many drivers struggled in practice and in qualifying with the lack of run-off areas and the narrow but fast course.

Rosberg took pole position for the race and never looked behind him.

He built up a one-second lead by the end of the first lap and was quickly out of range for the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Both of them occupied the podium spots for much of the race, though things got interesting as Sergio Perez of Force India pushed on Raikkonen near the end of the race.

Raikkonen was forced to serve a five-second penalty due to crossing the line on pit entry, and with Perez pushing him at the end, he was guaranteed to finish fourth.

Perez didn't rely on the time penalty though, overtaking Raikkonen on the final lap to claim a podium.

It was an excellent weekend for Perez, who qualified in second but had a five-place grid penalty and started the race in seventh.

Rosberg's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, finished the race in fifth.

Hamilton won the previous two races and closed the championship points gap to his temamate to just nine points, but that gap has grown once again with Rosberg's stellar drive.

As expected, it was a very exhilarating start, and as expected, there was contact around the first turn.

But it wasn't among the leaders, as Haas' Esteban Gutierrez lost a front wing with some contact that also involved Nico Hulkenberg.

Nearer the front of the pack, it was Perez who managed to get a jump on the drivers in front of him.

He moved up from seventh to fifth over the course of the first two corners.

Rosberg managed to hold off Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Vettel on the start and by the end of the first lap had built up a one-second lead.

Hamilton, interestingly enough, made no overtaking on the first lap.

Hamilton started from 10th due to a crash in the third qualifying session and after a weekend in which he looked great in Baku overall, at least as far as practice was concerned.

There has been a lot of talk lately about Hamilton panicking and making mistakes, and it stands to reason that he wanted to take things a bit slower this time around.

Ricciardo was the first among the top cars to pit, going in on lap seven for super soft tires.

He came out back onto the track in 13th position. Raikkonen got first dibs on the pit stop from Ferrari, going in at lap nine.

Ferrari called Vettel in but he came back over the radio and suggested that his pace was good and that he didn't need to go in.

That was when Raikkonen went in, though Vettel's pit wall did tell him again to come in due to the undercut.

Vettel didn't go in though, not in lap nine when they called him and not in lap 10 after that.

Either he disobeyed a team order or he convinced them that he had the right idea.

After their first pit stops, Perez crucially came out just ahead of Hamilton, setting up an interesting battle. 

A frustrated Hamilton stopped his overtaking once he reached fifth position.

There was a setting on his Mercedes that was not correct, and his team on the pit wall knew about it but was unable to tell him what the issue was during the race due to Formula 1 rules.

Daniil Kvyat was the first driver out of the race, as his Torro Rosso had a suspension issue an he parked it within the first 10 laps.

Then his teammate, Carlos Sainz, was also out of the race several laps later.

Sainz pulled off the track with what looked like a similar suspension issue on lap 33 and became the second car to retire.

Fernando Alonso and Pascal Wehrlein were the next drivers to retire closer to the end of the race.

Below are the top 10 finishers for the race:

1. Nico Rosberg

2. Sebastian Vettel

3. Sergio Perez

4. Kimi Raikkonen

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Valterri Bottas

7. Daniel Ricciardo

8. Max Verstappen

9. Nico Hulkenberg

10. Felipe Massa

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