Rosberg beats Raikkonen to win in Bahrain

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg took his second win of the season as he beat Kimi Raikkonen to win an entertaining Bahrain Grand Prix.

After Sebastian Vettel's engine failed on the formation lap, Rosberg made a good start to beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton off the line and escape a chaotic start to pull out a clear lead. Hamilton was hit by Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1 and dropped to seventh, while Raikkonen himself made a poor start and dropped in to the midfield.

The opening stint allowed Rosberg to establish a commanding lead which he would not relinquish, with Raikkonen and Hamilton climbing back through to second and third respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo was a distant fourth for Red Bull ahead of another hugely impressive drive from Romain Grosjean who better his sixth place in Australia to take fifth. Max Verstappen finished sixth ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who produced an impressive recovery drive.

Felipe Massa and Bottas were eighth and ninth as Williams failed to capitalise on a strong start, while Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten, with the young Belgian scoring a point on his grand prix debut for McLaren as team-mate Jenson Button retired.

The formation lap saw drama as Vettel failed to take the start due to an engine failure. With smoke pouring out of the back of his car from the straight before Turn 11, Vettel eventually stopped before Turn 14 and climbed out of his car before the race had even started.

Jolyon Palmer also pulled in to the pits to retire before the lights went out, and when they did the drama continued as Raikkonen slipped backwards and Hamilton was hit by Bottas at Turn 1. The Williams driver was handed a drive through penalty for the incident, which damaged the sidepod of Hamilton's car and dropped the pole-sitter down to seventh place.

There was more contact further back as Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz came together at the start of the next lap. The Toro Rosso driver was left with a puncture and fell a lap down before later retiring.

Rosberg established a strong lead ahead of Massa and Bottas, while Ricciardo and Grosjean were soon jumped by Raikkonen and Hamilton respectively. Raikkonen was on a mission to make up for his poor start and went round the outside of Bottas at Turn 1 and getting the better of Massa at Turn 3 immediately after his first stop.

By the time Raikkonen had worked his way up to second place after eight laps, Rosberg was 13 seconds up the road. It would prove crucial as the Ferrari showed the pace to match Mercedes but was too far adrift.

There were contrasting fortunes for the McLarens in the opening laps as Jenson Button pulled off the track at Turn 10 but rookie Vandoorne started to grow in confidence and pulled an impressive move on Nico Hulkenberg at Turn 4 as he went in search of points.

Williams had been well placed at the start of the race but Bottas' drive through penalty coupled with two stints on the medium compound tyre dropped them back in to the lower half of the top ten.

In a similar race to Australia, Haas was again delivering an impressive strategy as Grosjean ran on new supersoft tyres - saved during qualifying - throughout the first part of the race. The team was again left with one car, however, as Esteban Gutierrez pulled in to the pits and retired early on.

With Ricciardo running on soft tyres in the second stint, Grosjean had the pace on supersoft tyres to pass the Red Bull for fourth. The Frenchman also had to battle Kvyat during a race full of overtaking as the Russian pulled off a long first stint to climb from 15th on the grid to finish in seventh place.

The race at the front had appeared to stabilise until a slow second stop from Rosberg brought Raikkonen back within ten seconds. Ferrari then pitted early for a final stop to fit soft tyres and when Mercedes reacted, Rosberg emerged with a lead of less than four seconds.

Rosberg eased away through traffic in the closing laps to record his fifth straight victory, while Hamilton conceded he didn't have the pace to catch the leading pair due to the damage sustained on the opening lap.

With Grosjean having moved in to the top five, Verstappen then delivered a quick final stint on supersoft tyres to pass Massa for sixth - with Kvyat also following him through - and close on the Haas but ran out of laps to challenge.

Of the noteworthy performances further down the field, Pascal Wehrlein impressed on his way to 13th place as Manor raced competitively to beat a Sauber and the two Force Indias as Hulkenberg and Perez endured dismal afternoons.

Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 57 laps - 1h33m34.696s 3
02 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +10.282 3
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +30.148 3
04 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +62.494 3
05 Romain Grosjean Haas +78.299 3
06 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +80.929 3
07 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +1 lap 3
08 Felipe Massa Williams +1 lap 2
09 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 lap 3
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren +1 lap 3
11 Kevin Magnussen Renault +1 lap 3
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap 2
13 Pascal Wehrlein Manor +1 lap 3
14 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap 3
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1 lap 4
16 Sergio Perez Force India +1 lap 3
17 Rio Haryanto Manor +1 lap 3
18 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso DNF 3
19 Esteban Gutierrez Haas DNF 2
20 Jenson Button McLaren DNF 0
21 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNS 0
22 Jolyon Palmier Renault DNS 0

AS IT HAPPENED: Bahrain Grand Prix

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