Nico Rosberg finished fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix, his ten points enough to ensure that Mercedes clinched second place in the constructors' championship.

The German snatched the lead off the line, getting underneath polesitter Sebastian Vettel into turn one but, carrying more rear wing than the Red Bull, was easy prey for his countryman at the start of lap two. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber followed Vettel through in quick succession, as Rosberg complained about a loose rear end. With rain always a possibility, the Mercedes team appeared to delay the German's first tyre stop, swapping him from the medium Pirelli to the hard, but the dye was cast, and Rosberg could only finish fifth, sandwiched between the McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

"It was certainly an interesting race today," the two-time race winner admitted, "I had a perfect start, but then I struggled a lot with my rear tyres in the opening stint and lost a few positions. We could have cleared Jenson in the pits, but it was better for us to be conservative and focus on our battle with Ferrari."

Related Articles

That battle was won despite Alonso finishing on the podium, as the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa was hit with a drive-thru' penalty for exceeding track limits. Although the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was also penalised - for causing an accident with Valtteri Bottas - the combined twelve points was enough to keep the Three Pointed Star comfortably out of reach of its rival.

"Today is a great day for the team and to finish in second place in the constructors' championship is a huge step forward for us," Rosberg claimed, "My thanks to everyone who made our success possible and congratulations to the team here at the track and back at our factories.

"I'm so happy that we have achieved our aim and now everyone can look forward to a break and the new challenge of 2014. It's a huge project and there's a lot of work ahead over the winter, but I'm very much looking forward to working with the team to put us in the best possible position for next season."

Second overall was more than Mercedes had anticipated for 2013, but holding on to the spot made for a tense finale for team principal Ross Brawn.

"I've certainly got a few more grey hairs after that race!" the Briton admitted, "Both cars made fantastic starts, but it was soon clear that we hadn't found the sweet spot with the car balance for Nico and he was struggling for rear-end grip.

"Lewis was stronger in the opening stint and showed good pace before and after his first stop, but our race obviously turned on the two drive-through penalties for Felipe and Lewis. Our drivers had been reporting that Felipe was consistently crossing the white line at pit entry with all four wheels and, when the FIA eventually took action, that obviously helped us. Then we had Lewis' unfortunate incident with Bottas...

"But the key thing today is that the team secured second position in the constructors' championship, even though we made rather hard work of it. That was done on the basis of a very good step forwards and one we made for good reasons. Red Bull have been extremely dominant in 2013, and congratulations to them, but our progress is the first fruits of the technical team we began building two years ago and I am optimistic that the trend of progress will continue in 2014."