Hamilton was ahead but on the harder of the two tires while Rosberg was on the softer rubber. While behind the safety car, both drivers were cautioned by team racing director Paddy Lowe to race fairly and ensure both cars made it to the finish.
Twice Rosberg was able to pull off passing moves at the end of the main straight, but both times Hamilton was able to get better drive out of the ensuing corners and narrowly stayed ahead in some enthralling wheel-to-wheel racing. Rosberg's tires began to wear out and he was not able to mount a challenge over the final three laps.
"It was the most exciting race I have done in my career," Rosberg said. "Lewis did a great job defending — it was a massive fight. I thought I'd got him about nine times but it didn't work out; he always got the run back on me."
Rosberg did have the comfort of staying ahead in the drivers' championship with 61 points compared to Hamilton's 50.
The safety car came out after Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado emerged from the pits and plowed into the side of the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez at the first corner, flipping the Mexican's car in a frightening accident, but Gutierrez was able to walk away.
Maldonado was judged by race stewards to have caused the incident and given a stop-go penalty.