Mercedes missed the 1-2 at the Gulf Air Bahrain GP, though both team drivers found the podium places. They can, however, derive solace from Nico Rosberg repeating his season-opening Australian GP’s winning performance at the Sakhir international circuit. 2015 champion and pole-winner Lewis Hamilton collided with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1 early in the race and dropped way back. To Hamilton’s credit, he made a lot of ground and still finished third, yielding the second place to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The worst fate befell Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who missed the event altogether, after plumes of smoke started billowing from his engine on the pre-formation lap. Meanwhile Rosberg pulled away literally unchallenged and beat Raikkonen by more than 10 seconds.
With Nico Rosberg scoring his fifth F1 win on trot and Hamilton getting involved in a collision early on, the German driver put paid to any aspirations that Hamilton might have had of recording his third consecutive win at Bahrain. Help to Rosberg also came from Sebastian Vettel, who couldn’t even make a start after an unfortunate engine trouble. After a confusion-ridden qualifying at Melbourne two weeks ago, some changes in qualifying format were expected but no consensus could be reached on returning to the old method. Everyone hoped Fernando Alonso could return to racing at Bahrain after his miraculous escape at Melbourne, but his medical scan showed some fractured ribs and damage to the lungs. In the qualifying on Saturday, it was once again the Mercedes dominance, followed by Ferrari. This is the third straight year, when the machine superiority is playing a major role and much less depends on the driver’s skill. Hamilton beat Rosberg and took the pole on Saturday. Behind Rosberg were the Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of two Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was eighth. Ninth place was taken by Haas Team’s Romain Grosjean while Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen brought up the rear at tenth place.
The main event took place in the floodlit Sakhir international circuit on Sunday night. Hamilton had a bad start at Melbourne and was plagued with the same problem at Bahrain. One reason could be attributable to a technical change from double-paddle clutch last year to the single-paddle types this season. Earlier, the drivers released the first paddle immediately on lights going out and the second one gradually later. But it seems, Hamilton is yet to adjust to the single-paddle clutch. Before he changed into race gear, Hamilton was still dressed in the paddock as an Arabian Prince but couldn’t translate those smart looks into a smart start. Hamilton’s bad start was compounded with his car being hit by Valtteri Bottas’ Williams at turn 1. It was a setback for both drivers but they continued to still finish in first 10. Rosberg, in the meantime, was already rollicking ahead of everyone else and didn’t even have Vettel to chase him. The Ferrari driver lost the chance to race, when his engine gave way much before the start. In Melbourne, it was Raikkonen, who couldn’t finish because of engine failure and in only the second race of the season, the engine problem has surfaced again. This is bad news for the Ferrari engineers and they have to take corrective measures straightaway. Well, all that went in favor of Rosberg, who just maintained his lead position from start to finish. Jolyon Palmer was another driver, who couldn’t start because of engine trouble. Palmer had made an impressive debut at Melbourne but stuttered in the second race itself.
Nico Rosberg was a runaway winner with Kimi Raikkonen following him more than 10 seconds later. Despite all what he had to face, Hamilton was third, followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who emulated the same-place finish as in Melbourne. Haas driver Romain Grosjean was fifth after his sixth place ending in Australia, Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso was sixth, Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat was seventh, Williams Felip Massa eighth, his teammate Valtteri Bottas ninth and McLaren’s Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne finished tenth.