Before the start there was disappointment for Ferrari as Sebastian Vettel, set to start from third, slowed on the formation lap with smoke billowing from the back of his car. His failure to start, the first of his career, meant a space opened on the grid beside Raikkonen and in front of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, starting from fifth.
The Australian couldn’t capitalise, however, and when the lights went out he made a poor start. That allowed Williams’ Valtteri Bottas to surge past. Hamilton too had started badly and as Rosberg powered into the lead and Raikkonen stole second Hamilton fell back towards Bottas.
The Finn tried to push past the champion on the inside of Turn One but they clashed. Ricciardo got involved too, losing part of his front wing. However, while Hamilton and Bottas, who would later be penalised for causing the collision, fell back, Ricciardo managed to hold position and he slotted into third.
At the front Rosberg began to pull away rapidly and he soon built up a sizeable lead over Raikkonen, with the Finn later commenting that the Mercedes driver was “a straight in front after a few laps”. That set the pattern for the top two positions as Rosberg managed his pace and comfortably kept Raikkonen at bay for the whole race.
Behind them, Ricciardo dived for the pits on lap six, but while he did take on new tyres, he chose not to take a new wing and he rejoined still nursing the damage but with greater pace thanks to hi new tyres. Across his first stint he battled back to third.
Hamilton, though, was also recovering from his earlier travails and despite sustaining debilitating floor damage, the champion rapidly made his way through the order on medium tyres, which he took onboard on lap 13. He passed Ricciardo on lap 17 and that spelled the end of any hopes the Australian had of a podium finish.
He settled into fourth spot and though he relinquished it twice as the strategies played out, his final stint on medium tyres, saw him solidify the result and he took his second fourth place in a row to score 12 points and to take third in the Drivers’ standings from the unfortunate Vettel.
Although Hamilton got to within five seconds of Raikkonen at one stage, he could not match the Finn’s pace and in the final stint he dropped back as he save his tyres in the hope of a safety car period that never came.
With Ricciardo fourth, fifth place went to Romain Grosjean, as Haas again surprised. The Frenchman worked his way through three sets of supersofts as he rose from ninth on the grid and though he couldn’t find the pace to challenger Ricciardo he still managed to better his opening result in Australia by one position. The new team now sits fifth in the Constructors’ Standings, ahead of Toro Rosso, Force India, McLaren, Renault, Sauber and Manor.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen took another good result for the Italian squad with sixth place, though there was disappointment for the Faenza team as Carlos Sainz failed to finish. Daniil Kvyat delivered an excellent performance. Starting 15th, the Russian ran two stints on soft tyres to avoid traffic and rise through the order before using two superbly aggressive stints on supersofts to claim seventh place. The run included a brave pass on Felipe Massa on the final lap.
Massa took eighth ahead of team-mate Bottas, while the final point went to McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne who drove a faultless race to the points from 12th on the grid. It was a less successful day for team-mate Jenson Button, with the veteran racer exiting the race with power loss on lap six.
BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX, BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, SAKHIR. 57 laps, 310.238 km., Weather: Dry.
Classification: P. DRIVER TEAM TIME/GAP 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG 1h33:34.696 2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari + 10.282 3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG + 30.148 4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull + 1:02.494 5. Romain Grosjean Haas + 1:18.299 6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso + 1:20.929 7. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull + 1 lap 8. Felipe Massa Williams + 1 lap 9. Valtteri Bottas Williams + 1 lap 10. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren + 1 lap 11. Kevin Magnussen Renault + 1 lap 12. Marcus Ericsson Sauber + 1 lap 13. Pascal Wehrlein Manor + 1 lap 14. Felipe Nasr Sauber + 1 lap 15. Nico Hulkenberg Force India + 1 lap 16. Sergio Perez Force India + 1 lap 17. Rio Haryanto Manor + 1 lap FASTEST LAP: Nico Rosberg - 1:34.482 - 2015 1:36.311 - 2014 1:37.020 NOT CLASSIFIED: Возач Тим Carlos Sainz JR. Toro Rosso Esteban Gutierrez Haas Jenson Button McLaren Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Jolyon Palmier Renault After 2 races: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Nico Rosberg 50 1. Mercedes AMG 83 2. Lewis Hamilton 33 2. Ferrari 33 3. Daniel Ricciardo 24 3. Red Bull 30 4. Kimi Raikkonen 18 4. Williams 20 5. Romain Grosjean 18 5. Haas 18 6. Sebastian Vettel 15 6. Toro Rosso 11 7. Felipe Massa 14 7. Force India 6 8. Max Verstappen 9 8. McLaren 1 9. Nico Hulkenberg 6 10. Daniil Kvyat 6 11. Valtteri Bottas 6 12. Carlos Sainz JR. 2 13. Stoffel Vandoorne 1