Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg took his second victory of the season under lights as the German extended his championship lead following a thrilling race at the Sakhir circuit.
Rosberg started the race from 2nd place however took the lead from team mate Lewis Hamilton going in turn 1 on the opening lap after the reigning world champion was hit by Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas which saw Hamilton drop down the order after sustaining damage to the car.
Nico Rosberg has now extended his lead in the championship to 17 points and speaking following the race Rosberg said:
Wow, what a weekend! I am so happy with how everything is working out at the moment. The start was definitely the key to my win – and that was a really great moment, as it was an area that we put a lot effort into before the race. Leading into Turn One was a relief, to be honest, as I could see in my mirrors that it was very busy behind me. But from then on I was able to control the pace and take the win. Strategy-wise we had to play it safe. It maybe wasn’t the quickest option – but we had to cover the risk of a safety car. It was an almost perfect weekend for me – only qualifying could have been a fraction better. What a great start to the season – a big thank you to the guys and girls at the factories for this amazing car! Now I look forward to China, where I won my first ever Grand Prix, so I have plenty of positive energy heading there.
Hamilton recovered well to end the race on the podium in third place behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Speaking following the race, Hamilton commented by saying:
I didn’t get a good start today – but it actually wasn’t as bad as the last one. They were completely different incidents – both painful, but this one probably more so! In Melbourne I had loads of wheel spin but this time I just didn’t get away as well as I needed to and that was down to me. If you start on pole and go backwards it quickly becomes a domino effect. It’s so easy to get clipped from there and unfortunately that’s what happened at Turn One. Nonetheless, I managed to climb back up there and at least get some points, so again it was good damage limitation. I could easily have not finished the race, so I’m glad it wasn’t more points dropped in the end. I had so much damage on the car that I couldn’t keep up with Kimi. I was fighting hard and did what I could with it – but it wasn’t quite enough to catch him, so in the end I had to just save the tyres in case of a safety car. A big thank you to all the fans who came out this weekend. I’ve got some incredible support here. I’ve been so well taken care of, so I look forward to coming back next year. Now I’ve got to wait until China for the next battle – but it’s a track that has been good to me for many years, so hopefully things will turn around a bit for me there.
Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff commented saying:
Congratulations to Nico first of all. He’s on a roll right now, with five race wins in a row, and he didn’t put a foot wrong today – a clean start, clean turn one and then the race was his to control. He was quick when he needed to be, without taking any unnecessary risks, and deserved another great win. On Lewis’ side, like in Melbourne he found himself P7 on the first lap – and, again, he used the fighting spirit we all know to get back to the podium. He got a poor getaway again – and we saw up and down the field that the new rules are causing much more variability in the starts, which was the intention. After that, he got hit by Bottas at the first corner in a pretty over-optimistic move, which damaged the car pretty badly on the front wing and the floor – it cost a good chunk of overall performance. From then on, it was about damage limitation and trying to get back through the field, even with a damaged car; Lewis did a great job at that. But it was clear in the middle of the race that he didn’t have the pace to challenge Raikkonen, so then we just played it safe and brought everything home. We’re just two rounds into a season of 21 races, so there are no trends to find in the results right now; as a team, we’re pleased to have made this strong start to the year, and that we are taking our opportunities when they come. But it’s clear that we would have seen a different race today if Sebastian had not been forced to retire before the start. So we will keep our feet on the ground and keep pushing for the next race in China.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) at the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team commented saying:
An eventful start to the race, with Sebastian dropping out and then the first corner incident for Lewis. There was a lot of damage to the car – particularly to the floor but also to the front wing – so we were very relieved to see that it still had enough performance to allow Lewis to start fighting back through the pack. We debated changing the front wing at the first stop but eventually decided that there was not sufficient damage to warrant the time loss in the box. Meanwhile, Nico made a strong start and had a good buffer after Kimi also lost out at Turn One, so it was a fairly straightforward race for him with no issues to report. For Lewis, he battled his way up to Kimi and we decided to try something different to get him past by taking the medium tyre and targeting a two stop strategy. Initially this looked promising, as he was gaining on Kimi despite running a slower compound after the first stops. However, it soon became apparent that the medium was degrading as badly as the soft, so that strategy unfortunately began to unwind quite quickly. We therefore converted him back to a three stop – but of course Ferrari shadowed and we then had to cover that in turn with Nico. At that point, with all three cars on the same tyres, we had to just hold position to the end. It was great for Nico to get the win and great damage limitation on Lewis’ side to recover good points – if a big shame for him that he couldn’t convert his amazing pole position into a win, through no fault of his own.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who qualified for the race in third place failed to make the start following an engine failure on the formation lap as the drivers made their way to the grid.
Kimi Raikkonen on the other hand had a fantastic day coming home in second place behind Rosberg and just ahead of Hamilton.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished the race in fourth place for the Milton Keynes based outfit having started the race from fifth place. The Haas F1 Team had another brilliant race, following on from his sixth place (which felt like a win) last time out in the season opening in Australia, Romain Grosjean started the race from ninth place and drove brilliantly to come home in fifth place just ahead of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen.
Daniil Kvyat ended the race in seventh place for Red Bull Racing having started the Grand Prix from 15th place on the grid
Williams Martini Racing Team had a frustrating day after Massa and Bottas ran as high as second and third in the opening stages they came home in eighth and ninth place respectively which for Bottas was a great result when you consider the Finn was handed a drive through penalty for causing an avoidable accident with Lewis Hamilton.
The stand out performance and Paddock Eye’s driver of the day award has to go to McLaren Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian who drove in place of the injured Fernando Alonso out-qualified team mate Jenson Button and then had a dream debut scoring a point in his very first Formula One race coming home in 10th place.
In Australia two weeks ago Renault Sport F1’s Jolyon Palmer missed just missed out on a points scoring finish, this time around in Bahrain it Kevin Magnussen who just missed out as the Dane, who started the race from the pit-lane worked his way through the field crossing the line in 11th place ahead of the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson.
Following a great qualifying performance for the Manor Racing Team on Saturday, Pascal Wehrlein drove a great race to end up in 13th place just ahead of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber.
It was a disappointing race for the Sahara Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez who following a mighty on track battle between the two came home in 15th and 16th place respectively with only Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto behind them.
In total there were four retirements from the race, McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button, Haas F1 Team’s Esteban Gutierrez, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Renault Sport F1 Team’s Jolyon Palmer who suffered a hydraulic issue pitting to retire at the end of the first lap.