Hamilton holds on for Bahrain GP victory

Lewis Hamilton survived a last-lap brake issue on his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS machine to take his third victory in four races in 2015 in Bahrain, with Kimi Raikkonen taking advantage of similar issues to Nico Rosberg to take second place.

Hamilton led from start-to-finish at Sakhir, and won by 3.380s from Raikkonen’s Ferrari, with the Briton and third placed Rosberg both suffering with apparent brake-by-wire issues over the closing laps.

Rosberg was set for second and another Mercedes 1-2 but ran wide at the first corner with just two laps to go with his braking problem, allowing Raikkonen through, with the Finn finishing on the podium for the first time since his return to Ferrari at the beginning of the 2014 season.

Rosberg had shown a good turn of speed and aggression early in the race after initially falling to fourth place behind Raikkonen, but passed both the Finn and Sebastian Vettel into the first corner to move behind his team-mate into second.

Rosberg would then have to negotiate Vettel a second time after the Ferrari jumped ahead of the Mercedes during the pit stop, making a move again into turn one with sparks flying spectacularly out of both cars heading into the corner.

Vettel managed to once again get ahead of Rosberg in the second and final round of stops, but the Ferrari driver made it much easier for the Mercedes driver this time around as Vettel made a mistake exiting the final corner, running wide and allowing Rosberg an easy run down the front straight back into second position.

Vettel was forced to pit again the following lap after suffering apparent damage to his front wing, which ultimately saw him finish the race down in fifth position, behind the Williams Martini Racing machine of Valtteri Bottas, who withstood the pressure from the Ferrari driver for the last fifteen laps or so.  It was a disappointing day for Vettel, who made at least three unforced errors.

Daniel Ricciardo had a relatively quiet race to sixth for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but was lucky to finish as his Renault power unit let out a huge plume of smoke as he crossed the finish line.

Romain Grosjean was the final driver not to be lapped in seventh, as the Lotus F1 Team driver secured his second points finish in two races. His team-mate Pastor Maldonado had been on course for eighth, but he was forced into the pits for an unscheduled pit stop with an engine issue, and although the Venezuelan was able to resume on track, he could only finish fifteenth.

The Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, a podium finisher at this circuit twelve months ago, was able to climb into the points in eighth, just ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat, who recovered from his disappointing qualifying session in which he could only qualify seventeenth to finish ninth.

The Russian was able to pass the second Williams of Felipe Massa with a few laps remaining, with the Brazilian having to climb from the back after failing to get off the line on the parade lap before the race and starting from the pit lane.

Fernando Alonso was less than four seconds away from McLaren-Honda’s first points of the season in eleventh, but team-mate Jenson Button was unable to start as the problems that saw him grind to a halt in qualifying were still evident on the telemetry before the race begun, meaning only nineteen drivers took the start.

The two Sauber F1 Team drivers were both inside the points at various stages of the Grand Prix, but Marcus Ericsson’s impressive race was let down by his second pit stop where he lost almost half a minute as the team struggled with the left front wheel nut. Up until that point he was on course for a certain top ten finish but ultimately ended fourteenth.

Team-mate Felipe Nasr had a scruffy opening lap and lost a handful of positions, and despite fighting for positions throughout the race, could only finish twelfth, with the second Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg also falling away from the points paying positions to finish thirteenth.

Both Manor F1 Team drivers once again saw the chequered flag, with Will Stevens once again dominating the inter-team battle with Roberto Merhi by almost forty-five seconds.

The only two in-race retirements were the two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen retiring within five laps of one-another, although neither had been in contention for points up to then. Sainz retired just after his pit stop with a potentially loose front wheel, while Verstappen cruised back into the pits a few laps later.

Sainz also had the honour of starting the race with a five-second penalty hanging over him when he was found guilty of driving too slowly on the reconnaissance lap on the way to the grid before the race begun.

Hamilton’s victory increases his championship lead to 27 points, with team-mate Rosberg now in second place, a point clear of Vettel, while Raikkonen’s podium finish sees him fourth, a further 23 points behind his team-mate.

Bahrain Grand Prix Race Result

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes57 Laps
27Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari+3.380s
36Nico RosbergGERMercedes+6.033s
477Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes+42.957s
55Sebastian VettelGERFerrari+43.989s
63Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault+1m01.751s
78Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Renault+1m24.763s
811Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes+1 Lap
926Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault+1 Lap
1019Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes+1 Lap
1114Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda+1 Lap
1212Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari+1 Lap
1327Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes+1 Lap
149Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari+1 Lap
1513Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Renault+1 Lap
1628Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari+2 Laps
1798Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari+3 Laps
RET33Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault35 Laps
RET55Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault30 Laps
DNS22Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda0 Laps