Sakhir - Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in this
year's title race on Sunday when he drove to a near-flawless victory in
the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton, starting from the
42nd pole position of his career, led from lights to flag apart from two
spells around the pit-stops to claim the 36th win of his career and his
third in four races this year.
Hamilton came home 3.3 seconds
clear of Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari who stole second ahead of Nico
Rosberg when the second Mercedes driver suffered a braking problem on
the penultimate lap.
It had seemed that the 29-year-old German
would hold off Raikkonen's late challenge, but both Mercedes lost their
brakes in the final laps, Hamilton just hanging on to win.
Hamilton's victory lifted him to 93 points in the championship, giving him a clear lead ahead of Rosberg, on 66 points.
Valtteri Bottas of Williams finished fourth after resisting a late
attack from German Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari.
Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Red Bull, his engine blowing up as
he crossed the line ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus and
Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India.
Russian Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull was ninth and Brazilian Felipe Massa, was 10th in the second Williams.
another sweltering day at the Sakhir Circuit, the race began as the
floodlights replaced the sunshine with a calm Hamilton making a perfect
departure from the 42nd pole position of his career.
At the other
end of the grid, Briton Jenson Button's wretched weekend was completed
by his failure to start the race, McLaren-Honda having been unable to
resolve their electronic problems.
Brazilian Felipe Massa started
from the pit lane after failing to start the formation lap in his
Williams, but he made light of that in the opening laps behind a field
led in confident fashion by the Mercedes of world champion Hamilton.
made a fast start, as did Rosberg who attacked Vettel, and this lifted
him into third when the Mercedes' man slipped back after his failed
assault on seizing second place.
But Rosberg fought back to regain third and squeeze inside Vettel's Ferrari at turn one on lap nine.
opened up a six-second lead before Vettel was the first of the leading
group to pit for new rubber after 14 laps, swiftly followed by Rosberg.
Hamilton pitted, two laps later, Raikkonen led until he followed suit
on lap 18. This gave the lead back to Hamilton, but Mercedes' need to
give Rosberg the first stop had clearly reduced the Briton's control and
lead at the front.
This was shown when Hamilton rejoined from his first stop just ahead of Vettel as Rosberg passed the Ferrari to take second.
lap 24, a lead that was six seconds was trimmed to just 2.2 with Vettel
less than a second adrift and Raikkonen, on the 'harder' medium tyre,
Hamilton pushed to extend his lead to 3.9 seconds by lap
30 with Vettel a further 4.3 adrift and Raikkonen, 4.1 seconds further
back, holding a strong fourth on mediums ahead of Bottas.
made his second stop to switch to the medium tyre after 33 laps.
Hamilton followed a lap later for the same and then Rosberg, who lost
his place to Vettel, who clocked a fastest lap of 1:37.547 to regain
All this left Raikkonen, running a different strategy, out
in front of Hamilton with one more stop due, as Rosberg fought back
against Vettel, taking second again as Vettel ran wide at Turn 14,
damaging his front wing. Vettel had to pit for a new nose and re-joined
As Raikkonen struggled on his worn tyres, Hamilton swept
past to lead at the start of lap 40, both men avoiding an incident with
Hulkenberg's Force India as the German came out of the pits.
finally called Raikkonen in for lap 41, putting him on soft tyres for a
closing dash after the Mercedes men and a potential podium finish.
15 laps to go, Hamilton led Rosberg by nearly five seconds and
Raikkonen, clocking fastest laps, was adrift by 18 seconds in third.
Finn cut into Rosberg's advantage as the laps unfolded with Hamilton
staying ahead of them both as the leading trio cut their way through
lapped traffic on the closing laps. Seeking his first podium finish for
26 races, Raikkonen became ever more animated. "Come on! Blue flags!" he
shouted over the team radio. "They just don't move those people."
Results from the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1hr 35min 05.809sec, 2. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) at 3.380sec, 3. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 6.033, 4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 42.957, 5. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 43.989, 6. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1:01.751, 7. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus) 1:24.763. 8. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) 1 lap, 9. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Red Bull) 1 lap, 10. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1 lap, 11. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren) 1 lap, 12. Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber AG) 1 lap, 13. Nico Hlkenberg (GER/Force India) 1 lap, 14. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber AG) 1 lap, 15. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Lotus) 1 lap, 16. Will Stevens (GBR/Marussia) 2 laps, 17. Roberto Merhi (ESP/Marussia) 3 laps
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 93pts, 2. Nico Rosberg (GER) 66, 3. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 65, 4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 42, 5. Felipe Massa (BRA) 31, 6. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 30, 7. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 19, 8. Felipe Nasr (BRA) 14, 9. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 12, 10. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 6, 11. Max Verstappen (NED) 6, 12. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 6, 13. Sergio Perez (MEX) 5, 14. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 5, 15. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 4
1. Mercedes 159pts, 2. Ferrari 107, 3. Williams 61, 4. Red Bull 23, 5. Sauber AG 19, 6. Toro Rosso 12, 7. Lotus 12, 8. Force India 11