Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton cruises to victory at Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix despite a close challenge from Kimi Raikkonen as Mercedes won the desert duel with Ferrari.

Hamilton, who suffered braking problems on the final lap, won his third race out of four to take a 26-point lead in the Drivers' Championship ahead of Raikkonen and teammate Nico Rosberg.

Raikkonen got his first podium place since the Italian Grand Prix in 2009 but his Ferrari teammate could only finish fifth.

Mercedes had a different strategy to Ferrari and it was evident as all four drivers exchanged the lead throughout the early to middle stage of the race, however, Hamilton came out on top to lead for the majority of the race. 

Everyone thought Raikkonen had stayed out too long on the medium tyre but came back on new softs and over take Rosberg with two laps remaining after running wide on turn one.

Down to the wire on the final lap and Hamilton described a braking problem, dropping seven tenths on the first sector allowing Raikkonen to close to within five seconds, however the Brit held on to take his third win from four races this season.


There were three retirements in total during the race. Before the Grand Prix had even got under way Jensen Button was forced to abandon the race after technical problems meant the car wasn't drivable.

On lap 32, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz's race was abruptly ended when he was forced to pull off the track when he suffered a failed front left wheel nut. Toro Rosso's race was over completely on lap 37 as Max Verstappen retired in the pits.

Valteri Bottas was the highest finishing Williams in fourth, in front of the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Next was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, comfortably ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. Behind was Sergio Perez's Force India followed by Ricciardo's teammate, Daniil Kvyat.

Felipe Massa had to start from the pit lane when he failed to start the formation lap but recovered to finish tenth. Despite losing Button before the race, McLaren Honda's Fernando Alonso put in his best performance of the season to finish 11th, just ahead of Felipe Nasr in the Sauber.

Next up were the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Pastor Maldonado, who despite retiring late on, was registered in 15th. Bringing up the rear again were Will Stevens and Roberto Mehri in the Marussias.

Audacious move

At turn one on lap four, after losing third place to Raikkonen on the first lap, Rosberg made an audacious move coming down the inside of the Finn to regain his original position.

Verstappen made a quick pit stop on lap seven to replace damage to his front wing he incurred earlier on.

The battle for second place was heated as early as lap eight, as Rosberg tried to take advantage of a costly Vettel mistake and the Mercedes man got the place at turn one on the ninth lap when he dove down the inside, as he had done to Vettel's Ferrari teammate four laps earlier.

As of lap ten, Ericsson had impressively managed to make up four places from his qualifying position to ninth, whereas Massa, after his pre-race problems, had slipped to 14th.

Vettel struggles

After dropping to third place Vettel pitted for fresh soft tyres on lap 14, trying to undercut the Mercedes drivers, and was urged to "push now" by his engineer. Rosberg responded to Vettel's pit but wasn't quick enough and the Ferrari driver beat him to the first corner. Hamilton then came in a lap after his teammate and on exiting the pit lane beat both Rosberg and Vettel to keep first position, although less than a second now separated the three drivers.

Sauber's inexperienced 24-year-old driver Nasr over took Williams' 33-year-old Massa on lap 25, showing driving talent has nothing to do with age.

After Ericsson's excellent work to get into the top ten, it was all undone during his pit stop when the nut on his front left wheel wouldn't come off and the Swede dropped to 17th.

With 24 laps left Vettel pitted for the second time, this time changing to the harder medium compound tyre, going for a longer stint in his attempt to close down Hamilton's lead.

Nasr gained another place on lap 35 as he overtook the Force India of Hulkenberg, taking him one step closer to the points in 12th.

Despite his hopes of an uninterrupted final stint, Vettel had to come back into the pits to replace his front wing, which was damaged when he ran onto the curb and gravel coming round the final corner on lap 37.

Onto lap 40 and Hamilton regained his lead from Raikkonen after the Ferrari driver had stayed out for a long stint. Directly after being over taken, the Finn stopped for new soft tyres and set his sights on Rosberg and promptly set the fastest lap of the race.

Maldonado was forced into retirement 14 laps from the chequered flag, when his engine failed on entry into the pits.

The last few laps were fraught between Raikkonen and Rosberg, but after a mistake on the exit of turn one, Ferrari's 'Iceman' went ahead to finish second behind Hamilton who led for most of the race.

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