Nico Rosberg extends championship lead in Bahrain

Nico Rosberg currently sits 17 points clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the championship.

This lead is thanks to picking up maximum points at the first two rounds of the season. Following a 1-2 for Mercedes in Australia, Rosberg stood on the top step again in Bahrain although this time he finished ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton started the race from pole but it was a fast starting Rosberg who led by the first corner. As Hamilton swept across the track after realising he had lost his lead, there was contact with Valtteri Bottas – something the stewards felt warranted a drive through penalty for the Finn. This led to damage on his car which was something he had to contend with for the duration of the race.

While Rosberg romped away at the front, Hamilton once again found himself having to fight back from about fifth or sixth, something he had already endured in Australia due to a poor start.

Ferrari’s leading – and only – contender in this race was Kimi Raikkonen, a driver who has excelled in Bahrain in the past picking up seven podiums. Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make the race start when he suffered an engine failure on the formation lap. Raikkonen drove a good race and finished in second place, undoubtedly particularly welcome following a retirement in the opening race of the year.

Following the top three Daniel Ricciardo came home in fourth place in front of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, the latter picking up another solid points haul for the new team. It was once again a bittersweet event for Haas as their other driver Esteban Gutierrez retired, this time with a brake issue. Max Verstappen finished sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Daniil Kvyat in seventh, Felipe Massa in eighth and a recovering Bottas in ninth.

Rounding out the top ten finishers was late McLaren call-up Stoffel Vandoorne. Following the news that Fernando Alonso had been declared unfit to race by the FIA, McLaren’s test and reserve driver was rushed to the track to stand in for him. With Alonso watching his every move from the pitwall and offering guidance, Vandoorne raced to tenth place. It was a point on his debut and McLaren’s first points finish of the year.

Jenson Button was frustrated to pull off at the side of the track with a power problem, later suggesting he could have been on for a top five or six finish had he not retired. He joined Vettel on the sidelines along with Gutierrez and Jolyon Palmer, who also did not start. Carlos Sainz was the fifth retirement having picked up a puncture during the race and retiring a few laps later.

Outside of the top ten, Kevin Magnussen recovered from a pit-lane start to finish 11th, ahead of Marcus Ericsson and an impressive Pascal Wehrlein. After qualifying 16th, the Manor driver put in a strong performance in the race to finish 13th, having ran in the points. Felipe Nasr was 14th for Sauber ahead of the two Force Indias and Rio Haryanto.

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