Nico Rosberg has won the Bahrain Grand Prix, leading the race virtually from start to finish. The German made an impeccable start to get ahead of Hamilton, and eventually finished in front of Raikkonen in the sole remaining Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton
Contrary to what happened at Australia, this time around the first start was the good one. Rosberg however had a difficult start in the warmup lap, but got a clean getaway when it really mattered.
Hamilton meanwhile had trouble getting off the line, and slotted in behind his teammate. Through turn 1, he got bumped into by Bottas - who would later get a drive-through penalty for that move, sending him off into a near spin and dropping down to 8th, to recovered to 6th in the same lap, even though claiming something was wrong on the back of his car.
The next lap, Perez tried an optimistic move on Sainz, eventually pushing his front wing into the latter's right rear tyre. Both mean had to pit at the end of that lap.
By that time, Vettel was already out of the race, as his engine went up in smoke on the warm-up lap.
On lap 6, Raikkonen got past Ricciardo and one lap later also past Bottas. Another lap later, as Ricciardo pitted, Hamilton got got past Bottas to progress into third place.
Button on the other hand ground to a halt with technical problems. Gutierrez also suffered an early retirement a few laps later, stepping out of his car in the pits.
By lap 15, all front runners made their first stops. Rosberg led 11 second over Raikkonen who was flying on the soft tyres since his pit stop. Kvyat was third and still running on his initial set of soft tyres, followed by Ricciardo, Hamilton and Massa. Of the front runners, only Hamilton and Massa did their second stints on the medium tyre. Grosjean interestingly went for the super soft tyres on his first stop and progressed past Massa on lap 18 who rapidly lost several places.
In the midfield, rookie Vandoorne still ran in 8th while Wehrlein in the Manor continued to go strong in 12th place. The latter's Mercedes engine is certainly helping Manor's chances this year, acknowledged by Magnussen who told his team he is unable to even attempt a passing move on the Manor ahead.
On lap 25, as the next series of stops started, Rosberg continued to lead the race, 15s ahead of Raikkonen and another 8s on Hamilton.
Of the provisional podium sitters, Hamilton pitted first, changing to a used set of super softs on lap 29 and returned to the track still in third place.. Grosjean did the same one lap earlier and rejoined the track in 8th position. Raikkonen stopped on lap 30, also to change to used super soft tyres. Some quick sectors from Hamilton however made sure that back out on the track, Raikkonen had only 4.3s left of his advantage to Hamilton.
Rosberg stopped another lap later and took on new soft tyres in a stop that was not troublefree and lasted 5.3 seconds.
The final quarter of the race turned out to be much less exciting than the rest, with positions more or less fixed at the front. Raikkonen did keep the pressure on Rosberg still, but will all three podium sitters completing their races on new soft tyres of approximately the same lapcount, the difference wasn't going to come from the tyres.
Ricciardo also didn't have anything to fear in the final part of the race, being 10s ahead of Grosjean in 5th. Verstappen did get ever closer to Grosjean in the closing stages thanks to a set of super softs, but saw the race and a handful of laps too early for him to get ahead of the Haas driver.
The spectacle had to come from Pascal Wehrlein who battled it out with Ericsson for 12th place.He eventually failed to get past the Sauber but nonetheless secured a nice 12th place finish for Manor.
|1||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:33:34.696|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||+30.148s|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||+62.494s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+80.929s|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||+1 lap|
|8||Felipe Massa||Williams||+1 lap|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||+1 lap|
|10||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||+1 lap|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||+1 lap|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+1 lap|
|13||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor||+1 lap|
|14||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||+1 lap|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1 lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India||+1 lap|
|17||Rio Haryanto||Manor||+1 lap|
|NC||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||DNF|