For Ferrari, finishing 45s back from Rosberg was a major disappointment, particularly as they’d come to Spain with a raft of changes that they hoped would enable them to take the fight to Mercedes. Worse still for the Scuderia, Kimi Raikkonen could not displace fellow countryman Valtteri Bottas, who drove a sterling race to fourth. Williams team mate Felipe Massa meanwhile climbed from ninth on the grid to sixth behind the red car.
Outside of the squabbles at the front, there was plenty of action in the midfield, where Daniel Ricciardo hauled his Red Bull to a lapped seventh and Romain Grosjean survived a brush with Lotus team mate Pastor Maldonado, and then an overshoot during a pit stop, to take eighth.
Local hero Carlos Sainz had an eventful afternoon in his Toro Rosso, slipping down the order in the opening half of the race before recovering to ninth by the chequered flag. The Spaniard’s last lap pass of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat at Turn 1 was the subject of a post-race stewards' investigation. Sainz had attempted to pass the Russian around the outside, but when Kvyat locked up the duo clashed forcing the Toro Rosso off the road. Sainz recovered to the track ahead of the Red Bull and held the position to the flag. It was subsequently deemed a racing incident by the officials.
Try as he might, Max Verstappen couldn't resist his team mate’s late charge so finished 11th ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, while Force India’s Sergio Perez led home a big four-car scrap for 13th as he, the other Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, team mate Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button were covered by 1.9s after 66 laps.
The Marussias took the final two places, Will Stevens finishing ahead of Roberto Merhi.
The other Spaniard in the race - Fernando Alonso - fared worst of all, retiring his McLaren with brake problems after dramatically overshooting his pit stop mark and almost running down his front jack man. Pastor Maldonado was the only other retiree, the Venezuelan having surged as high as seventh in the early stages before being delayed by a damaged rear wing - the consequence of that contact with Grosjean.
The result reduces Hamilton’s championship lead over Rosberg to 20 points heading to Monaco, with 111 to 91. Vettel has 80, Raikkonen 52, Bottas 42 and Massa 39.
In the constructors’ stakes Mercedes pull further ahead, with 202 to Ferrari’s 132 and Williams’s 81.