Five wins in a row for Nico Rosberg after taking the top step of the Bahrain Grand Prix podium.
57 laps in the lead ensured Rosberg continued his winning way, as Hamilton had to settle for third after heavy contact from Bottas sent the reigning champion down the order. Yet despite taking damage, Lewis kept going after Vettel failed to start following an engine failure.
The Bahrain Grand Prix had only seen the formation lap begin before the first car to retire was parking up. Unfortunately for a potential race-leading battle, it was the Ferrari of Vettel who was retiring following an engine failure. It was the second time in a the same amount of races that Ferrari suffered a failure in their power unit, with it this time causing Vettel not to start a Grand Prix for the first time in his Formula One career.
Only a matter of moments later, and still without the race underway, Palmer became the second driver to retire as he pitted at the end of his formation lap. A hydraulic failure with his Renault caused the Brit to retire and leave the grid with 20 cars as the five lights turned on.
By the first corner, the lead was Rosberg’s as Hamilton stuck to the outside of the track. Potentially looking for a greater cut back than Nico left Lewis with more of the track to turn in on, but at the same time the space was there for someone to attack. An option Bottas could not refuse.
Unfortunately for both, as the space closed up and Bottas locked up contact was inevitable between the pair. With Hamilton ending the engage facing the wrong direction and with heavy damage to his sidepod. While Valtteri would go on to receive a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.
Other drivers battling within their own positions were soon falling foul of debris with Carlos Sainz heading to the pits within the opening lap. At the time his only issue was a puncture, however the Spaniard would later be forced to retire.
But as Carlos retired yet again for Toro Rosso, Raikkonen was making his way up to third with overtakes on Bottas and Ricciardo. With just seven laps completed, Kimi overtook Bottas deep into turn one with a bold move around the outside and able to hold the inside of two as the Williams struggled for traction.
Turn one also became a favourable place for Hamilton as he too overtook Bottas just a few laps later. A pit stop by Massa was also enough to promote Lewis into the top three despite his damaged Merc. While a ERS failure cost Button his race and joined the list of drivers, along with Gutierrez, to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Meanwhile Kimi was continuing his charge back to the front following his pit stop. Upon exit he found himself behind Ricciardo and Massa as they fought for position, compromising Massa’s line through one and allowing Raikkonen to go side by side up the hill. The place was soon Kimi’s as the two entered turn four and next up the road sat Daniel Ricciardo. The Red Bull though was no match for the Finn as on the same lap he overtook the Bull and had another one in his wake moments later.
Meanwhile, in a battle not many expected before the season began, Romain Grosjean continued to show why the Haas’ Ferrari tie-up has left them with a car he described as the best he’s ever driven. Setting the fastest lap of the race while hunting the Williams of Massa for fifth, allowed Romain to charge through the field and often be the bane of the bulls.
Another car not many expected to be all that good in pre-season was the Manor belonging to Wehrlein and Haryanto. But, in the words of Magnussen, “there is no way I can pass the Manor, it’s like a rocket on the straight” as he fought with Wehrlein for 14th place. Pascal even spent time in the points as others fell away at the start of the race.
As Rosberg eased around at the front of the field while Raikkonen and Hamilton cemented their top three positions, Williams continued to fall down the point scoring positions. And on more occasions, Bottas struggled out of turn two allowing cars to overtake him without much defence.
However, as Bottas sat in eight place, Massa was hunting down Vandoorne as the McLaren rookie looked at points on his debut. Not long was spent between Massa catching the rear of Vandoorne and a chance to overtake presenting itself as Bottas pitted, putting Stoffel off as he entered the straight. A few laps later, Stoffel too was pitting as he fell to 12th place.
A change to supersofts for Vandoorne allowed him to move back into the points over the remaining laps. Likewise, a change for supersofts by Verstappen allowed the remaining Toro Rosso to close the gap to cars ahead. After leaving the pits in seventh place, Verstappen had Bottas in his sight and a fastest lap of his race allowed him to go on and catch Massa.
Fresher supersofts too were the aid of Wehrlein as the Manor made his way past Hulkenberg for 13th place. Out in front was a different matter though, as Rosberg lapped nearly all the remaining drivers. Nico lapping Massa who sat in seventh even allowed Kvyat a chance to go wheel-to-wheel up the hill.
Nico would only go on to win the race by a handful of seconds despite leading by a pit-stop window earlier in the race. And with the win, he matches Lewis’ best record of five Grand Prix wins in a row. He also marks two from two in 2016 while Lewis could only achieve a podium finish after his early race contact with Bottas.
Traffic had been coming to the aid of Kimi as he hunted Nico down, but the gap had been stretched enough earlier in the race to ensure Nico would win.
Grosjean would go on to finish the race behind the Red Bull of Ricciardo as the Australian saw out a smooth race. Fifth in Bahrain also marks Haas’ best result following on from sixth in their debut race where Gutierrez similarly retired and Romain went on to score the points.
After replacing Fernando Alonso for the weekend, Stoffel Vandoorne marked his Formula One debut with a sole-point for 10th place. A strong debut from the Belgian showed some of the signs of the talent which took him to the 2015 GP2 title and what the future could have in store should he get a permanent F1 drive in the future.
|7||Daniil Kvyat||1 lap||6|
|8||Felipe Massa||1 lap||4|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||1 lap||2|
|10||Stoffel Vandoorne||1 lap||1|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||1 lap|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||1 lap|
|13||Pascal Wehrlein||1 lap|
|14||Felipe Nasr||1 lap|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||1 lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||1 lap|
|17||Rio Haryanto||1 lap|
|R||Carlos Sainz Jr.||DNF|