The Bahrain GP delivered plenty of debris, some tight battles and another great win for Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton had a poor start from pole position before dropping down to seventh after colliding with Williams’ Valterri Bottas at Turn One. He recovered well despite bodywork damage and finished third behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
In another competitive race, there were close contests throughout the field and hints that Ferrari can still challenge Mercedes.
Early problems help Rosberg
The action began before the race even began with Jolyon Palmer’s Renault not able to complete the formation lap due to hydraulic problems.
Ferrari was also dogged with their ongoing reliability problems. Sebastian Vettel had a spectacular engine failure also on the formulation lap and couldn’t get to the start line.
With a contender already out of the race, Rosberg took advantage and made a storming start comfortably beating Hamilton into Turn One. But Valterri Bottas took too much speed into the corner and clipped Hamilton’s left side causing him to spin and lose bodywork.
Also getting away to slow start was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who dropped down to fifth place. He looked determined and worked his way past Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and the two Williams’ drivers of Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas to be second by lap seven but by that time Rosberg had already developed a comfortable gap and finished 10 seconds in the lead.
Can Hamilton bounce back?
Rosberg’s second win this season – and his fifth in a row – gives him a handy 17-point title lead over Hamilton.
Hamilton’s slow starts combined with reliability issues and mistakes from other drivers has almost gifted Rosberg his opening victories.
“I just didn’t get away as well as I needed to and that was down to me. If you start on pole and go backwards it quickly becomes a domino effect. It’s so easy to get clipped from there and unfortunately that’s what happened at Turn One.”
Hamilton showed in 2014 that he delivers under pressure but he will surely need to address his starts if he is to mount a successful title challenge this season.
Living “the American dream”
Grosjean from team Haas continued his momentum from the opening race to finish in an impressive fifth place.
Expectations for the rookie outfit were low coming into the season despite their cars ostensibly being re-badge Ferrari’s. And after being questioned about his decision to move from Lotus, Grosjean has shown that Haas may well be developing a strong package beating both the Williams cars and Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso. The back-to-back efforts have also put Haas fifth in the constructor standings only two points behind Williams.
“This is the American dream. It is unbelievable. I said we had to manage our expectations after we finished sixth in Australia, but here we finished fifth,” said Grosjean.
Rumours can be true
There have been rumours coming from McLaren for some time that their reserve driver – Stoffel Vandoorne – is the real deal. After all, he has managed to win in any car that he has driven.
Vandoorne finally received an opportunity in F1 on the weekend after Alonso was ruled unable to drive by stewarts because of a cracked rib sustained in his high-speed accident in Melbourne. Vandoorne delivered and finished in a solid tenth giving McLaren their first points of the season.
Elsewhere, Red Bull will be encouraged by another fourth place finish for Daniel Riccardo while Williams will quickly look to the next race in China following their disappointing eight and ninth places.