Hamilton fends off Rosberg challenge to win at Bahrain

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Lewis Hamilton has won the Grand Prix of Bahrain, fending off an exciting challenge from team mate Nico Rosberg who started from pole. Sergio Perez was overjoyed with finished third as the Mexican completes the podium.

The first Bahrain Grand Prix in the dark kicks off with Nico Rosberg on pole, ahead of Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Raikkonen, Button, Massa, Magnussen, Alonso and Vettel. Hamilton and Button got slowly off the line for the formation lap, but both managed to get pick up quickly, retaining their starting positions. In general though, Rosberg leads the field extremely slowly through the formation lap, taking more than 4 minutes before everyone is arranged on the grid.

As the lights went out, Mercedes kept the lead, but it's again Hamilton who took the best start and took the lead. Felipe Massa meanwhile, starting from 6th moved up to third, ahead of Perez, Bottas, Button and Hulkenberg. By the end of that lap, a mistake by the latter is easily used by Alonso to move up into 7th. Raikkonen is 9th after he got slightly touched from behind by Magnussen while Vettel retained his 10th position from the starting grid.

Jean-Eric Vergne on the other hand pits at the end of lap 1 with a right rear puncture.

On lap 4, Hulkenberg re-passes Alonso for 7th place thanks to his higher top speed and DRS. Alonso reckons via the radio that his Ferrari simply does not have the power to keep the Mercedes-powered Sahara Force India behind. Raikkonen and Vettel meanwhile are closely behind Alonso, with Vettel having an interesting card to play as he has started this race on the medium tyres, contrary to the options of all cars ahead of him.

Out of the points scoring positions in the initial phase of the race are Magnussen in 11th place, ahead of Ricciardo, Kvyat, Maldonado, Gutierrez, Grosjean, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Ericsson, Sutil and Chilton. Sutil however decided to pit at the end of lap 7, moving him to the back of the field, as at the start.

On lap 10 Button moves into 5th by passing Bottas. Hulkenberg also managed to get past the Finnish Williams driver 2 corners further down the road, making Bottas drop from 5th to 7th in 3 corners. His advantage to Alonso though is more than 2 seconds. Bottas pits at the end of that lap, taking on another set of options and rejoining the race in 16th place.

Tyre degradation is clearly starting to make a difference after 10 laps. Ricciardo finally gets past Magnussen while Perez moves up into 3rd following a pass on Massa. This makes Perez the closest challenger to the Mercedes cars, albeit already 15 seconds behind the leading duo who are still very close behind each other.

On lap 14 Bianchi attempts a very opportunistic passing move on Sutil at the end of the main straight. He gets past but overshoots his braking, tangling up with the Sauber and causing a puncture on his own Marussia. As if Adrian Sutil's weekend could still get worse...

One lap later Vettel is ordered to let Ricciardo past. The Australian is clearly quicker on his option tyres while Vettel is at the end of his first stint with the mediums. The World Champion pits on lap 17 after reporting to his team that his rear tyres are completely gone.

Meanwhile at the front, Rosberg has another go at Hamilton through turn 1 but gets re-passed through turn 1. Hamilton somewhat aggressively forced Rosberg to avoid a collision, triggering a complaint to his team over the radio. One lap later, Rosberg makes the move stick through turn 2 but half a lap further down Hamilton takes the lead again, before pitting to take on a new set of options.

Behind the leaders, Bottas now runs third, ahead of Massa. Hulkenberg is 4 seconds behind in 5th and just ahead of Perez and Alonso. Raikkonen is another 4.4 seconds behind Alonso and had Button on his back. Vettel is 10th, two seconds behind the fighting duo.

Two laps after Hamilton, Rosberg pits and takes on a set of mediums, contrary to his team mate. By the time Rosberg came out of the pitlane, Hamilton was already past, having gained 3 seconds on his brand new options.

By lap 24, the Force India duo have come back onto the Williams cars. Two laps later, Bottas pits and Hulkenberg has a go at Massa in turn 3. The German had to back out of it early to avoid an incident. Perez thanked his team mate for his attempt and took 4th. Another two laps later, both Force India's get past Massa.

On lap 29, Massa, Alonso and Grosjean all pit. Massa stays on softs whilst Alonso and Grosjean switch to medium.

On lap 40, Maldonado bumps into Gutierrez when coming out of the pits, sending the Sauber into a double flip, fortunately not causing personal harm to the Mexican. His Sauber however is ruined and a safety car is deployed for the marshals to clear the debris. Maldonado was later handed a 10 seconds stop and go penalty for causing that collision.

The Safety Car is bad news for Hamilton though as his 10 seconds advantage is now eliminated with a 13 lap stint left to do. The problem for Hamilton is that he had to fit mediums on his final stop during the safety car whereas Rosberg completed his second stint on the mediums.

Third behind the SC is Perez, followed by Hulkenberg, Button, Vettel, Ricciardo, Massa, Bottas, Alonso, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Grosjean, Maldonado, Kobayashi, Chilton and Bianchi. Magnussen and Ericsson both abandoned a few laps earlier with technical issues.

On lap 46 the racing is on again with Hamilton narrowly retaining the lead through turn 1. Perez gained a position in that same turn, putting Hulkenberg back into 4th. The next laps are a close fight with Button notably moving backwards.

On lap 50, Ricciardo makes a DRS-move on his team mate and gets past, moving up to 5th and soon challenging Hulkenberg who himself is unable to keep up with Perez.

Meanwhile at the front, Rosberg is doing all he can to get past Hamilton, but the latter fights back, repeatedly keeping the advantage through the outside of turn 1 and then opting to take the inside of turn 3.

On lap 54, Ricciardo gets past Hulkenberg and takes fourth, allowing Vettel to have a go at the Force India as well. Vettel though failed to make a decent enough attempt and soon got under fire from the Williams cars who themselves are closely followed by the Ferrari duo.

In the penultimate lap, Button retired from the race also with technical issues.

In the end though, a great race from Hamilton who cleanly fought off his team mate Nico Rosberg. Sergio Perez completes the podium, overjoyed with this result after being ousted from McLaren just months ago.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG57Winner225
26Nico RosbergMercedes AMG57+1.0 secs118
311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes57+24.0 secs415
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault57+24.4 secs1312
527Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes57+28.6 secs1110
61Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault57+29.8 secs108
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes57+31.2 secs76
877Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes57+31.8 secs34
914Fernando AlonsoFerrari57+32.5 secs92
107Kimi RäikkönenFerrari57+33.4 secs51
1126Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault57+41.3 secs12
128Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault57+43.1 secs16
134Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari57+59.9 secs21
1413Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault57+62.8 secs17
1510Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault57+87.9 secs18
1617Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari56+1 Lap19
1722Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes55+2 Laps6
Ret20Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes40+17 Laps8
Ret21Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari39Accident15
Ret9Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault33+24 Laps20
Ret25Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault18+39 Laps14
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari17+40 Laps22


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