The Bahrain Grand Prix has been won by Nico Rosberg for Mercedes, Rosberg’s second win in the two races of the 2016 Formula 1 season. It is also Rosberg’s fifth Grand Prix win in a row. The previous seven drivers to win five Grand Prix in a row have all gone on to become the World Champion for that year, so things are looking good for Rosberg in 2016.
As reported by USA Today, pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton came a disappointing third and Ferrari favorite Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make it to the grid.
Leading the race almost from the start, Rosberg came from second on the grid to first place on the podium. Rosberg’s Mercedes team-mate Hamilton made sure both Mercedes cars were on the podium as he struggled in behind Kimi Raikkonen.
The Bahrain Grand Prix got off to an exciting start when Hamilton’s car was clipped by Valtteri Bottas, who drives for British team Williams. Bottas attempted a passing maneuver but hit the right side of Hamilton’s car, sending debris flying across the track. Hamilton subsequently dropped to seventh place.
The stewards decided that Bottas was at fault for the incident and he was made to do a drive-through penalty in the pit lane. That didn’t help Hamilton much though as he scrambled through the field to end up in third place.
Watch the Grand Prix start with the Hamilton/Bottas collision in the video below.
Vettel qualified for P3 but didn’t make it to start, suffering a catastrophic engine failure on the set-up lap. Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen came in just behind Rosberg, but for Vettel his team’s second-place podium was bittersweet. Vettel’s official statement from Ferrari was downbeat.
“The problem came as a surprise, both for me and the whole team, as I was approaching Turn Eleven. Now we need to understand exactly the problem and learn from it. It is not ideal and we can’t be proud of it. But we had a good preparation over the winter, we are pushing very hard and we know that we can still improve…”
According to The Telegraph, “huge plumes of smoke billowed from [Vettel’s] Ferrari as the engine gave way while cruising around to take his mark on the grid.” It was an embarrassing false start for a driver widely regarded as one of the best in the sport, especially in a car which epitomizes Formula 1.
The Bahrain Grand Prix continues Hamilton’s lukewarm Formula 1 season. He got off to a poor start even before the Bottas collision, “the single-paddle clutch…is not yet to Hamilton’s liking.”
“But the point remains that if you fly off the line, no blundering Finns have the opportunity to ruin your race.”
Hamilton was reserved at the post-race press conference, complementing Rosberg but insisting that winning was impossible due to the Bottas crash.
“Congratulations to Nico. I had so much damage to the car, I couldn’t fight with Kimi.”
Hamilton said the Bahrain Grand Prix was “‘an easy race for him [Rosberg] I assume.'” The “little dig at his team-mate” notwithstanding, Hamilton was still hoping for a turnaround in performance.
Suffering from a poor start in Australia and yet again in Bahrain, Hamilton’s prospects for the World Championship are still good but his “blip [will become] a wobble if he fluffs the start again in China two weeks from now.”
Even though they didn’t win, the Bahrain Grand Prix was a spectacular success for American team Haas. In their debut Formula 1 season the North Carolina-based team are already up to 18 points. Driver Romain Grosjean scored an impressive 10 points for coming in fifth at Bahrain. Grosjean scored eight points at the Australian Grand Prix for sixth place.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was the second race of the 2016 Formula One season. The next race will be held at the Shanghai International Circuit in China during the weekend of 15-18 April. Practice begins on Friday and the race is at 2 a.m. EST on Monday 18 April.
[Photo by Luca Bruno/AP Images]