F1 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix result: Rosberg wins as Hamilton’s hopes hit
PUBLISHED: 18:40 03 April 2016 | UPDATED: 20:52 03 April 2016
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton salvaged third place from an exciting 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix as Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg made it two wins from the season’s opening two races.
The 31-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire clawed back a podium finish at the Bahrain International Circuit following a dreadful first lap.
Silver Arrows colleague Rosberg took the chequered flag for back-to-back wins this year, followed by Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen in second and Hamilton in third.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull with Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean fifth in the provisional result at Sakhir.
Rosberg now leads the FIA F1 World Championship standings by 17 points from Hamilton with a maximum 50 points from the first two grands prix of 2016.
After Sebastian Vettel’s engine blew on the formation lap, forcing the Ferrari driver to retire before the race had even started, Hamilton suffered a torrid first lap.
On pole position, he lost the lead off the line to Merc rival Rosberg, and was then involved in a collision with Valtteri Bottas at Turn One, suffering damage to his Mercedes.
After his first-lap incident, Hamilton said: “We managed to get back up there and get some points. Today was about damage limitation.”
Williams driver Bottas was handed a drive-through penalty for his opening lap collision with Hamilton and eventually finished ninth behind team-mate Felipe Massa.
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said of Hamilton’s drive: “He got a poor getaway again, and we saw up and down the field that the new rules are causing much more variability in the starts, which was the intention.
“After that, he got hit by Bottas at the first corner in a pretty over-optimistic move, which damaged the car pretty badly on the front wing and the floor – it cost a good chunk of overall performance.
“From then on, it was about damage limitation and trying to get back through the field, even with a damaged car; Lewis did a great job at that.
“But it was clear in the middle of the race that he didn’t have the pace to challenge Raikkonen, so then we just played it safe and brought everything home.”
After claiming his 16th career F1 victory, and first at the Bahrain International Circuit, race winner Rosberg said: “Wow, what a weekend! I am so happy with how everything is working out at the moment.
“The start was definitely the key to my win – and that was a really great moment, as it was an area that we put a lot effort into before the race.
“Leading into Turn One was a relief, to be honest, as I could see in my mirrors that it was very busy behind me.
“But from then on I was able to control the pace and take the win.”
After stopping for tyres three times, on laps 13, 30 and 39, Rosberg said: “Strategy-wise we had to play it safe. It maybe wasn’t the quickest option – but we had to cover the risk of a safety car.
“It was an almost perfect weekend for me – only qualifying could have been a fraction better.
“Now I look forward to China, where I won my first ever Grand Prix, so I have plenty of positive energy heading there.”
Hamilton fought back on an eventful night in Bahrain to claim his 89th Formula One podium.
After a battling drive to P3, Hamilton said: “I didn’t get a good start today – but it actually wasn’t as bad as the last one.
“They were completely different incidents – both painful, but this one probably more so.
“In Melbourne I had loads of wheel spin but this time 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.
“Nonetheless, I managed to climb back up there and at least get some points, so again it was good damage limitation.
“I could easily have not finished the race, so I’m glad it wasn’t more points dropped in the end.”
Hamilton added: “I had so much damage on the car that I couldn’t keep up with Kimi [Raikkonen].
“I was fighting hard and did what I could with it – but it wasn’t quite enough to catch him, so in the end I had to just save the tyres in case of a safety car.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: “Congratulations to Nico first of all. He’s on a roll right now, with five race wins in a row, and he didn’t put a foot wrong today – a clean start, clean Turn One and then the race was his to control.
“He was quick when he needed to be, without taking any unnecessary risks, and deserved another great win.
“On Lewis’ side, like in Melbourne he found himself P7 on the first lap – and, again, he used the fighting spirit we all know to get back to the podium.”
Referring to Hamilton’s Silver Arrows, Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe said: “There was a lot of damage to the car – particularly to the floor but also to the front wing – so we were very relieved to see that it still had enough performance to allow Lewis to start fighting back through the pack.
“We debated changing the front wing at the first stop but eventually decided that there was not sufficient damage to warrant the time loss in the box.”
Lowe added: “Lewis battled his way up to Kimi [Raikkonen] and we decided to try something different to get him past by taking the medium tyre and targeting a two-stop strategy.
“Initially this looked promising, as he was gaining on Kimi despite running a slower compound after the first stops.
“However, it soon became apparent that the medium was degrading as badly as the soft, so that strategy unfortunately began to unwind quite quickly.
2016 Bahrain Grand Prix result
1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
3 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5 Romain Grosjean (Haas)
6 Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso)
7 Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull)
8 Felipe Massa (Williams)
9 Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
10 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)
“We therefore converted him back to a three stop – but, of course, Ferrari shadowed and we then had to cover that in turn with Nico.
“At that point, with all three cars on the same tyres, we had to just hold position to the end.
“It was great for Nico to get the win and great damage limitation on Lewis’ side to recover good points – if a big shame for him that he couldn’t convert his amazing pole position into a win, through no fault of his own.”
Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen took sixth place.
He said: “I’m very happy with today’s result! I think we bounced back very strongly from the first weekend and the whole team did a fantastic job – a great strategy, good pit-stops...
“It all worked out perfectly, including our tyre management. The car was just doing what it had to do and felt good, we had great pace.
“It was an action-packed race and I really enjoyed it out there.
“To finish P6 is a fantastic way to finish the weekend and I’d like to thank the whole team for their excellent work.
“Also, this is the first time ever that the team scores points here in Bahrain, so I’m very happy to have changed this statistic – as I said before coming here, that was one of my objectives!”
Stoffel Vandoorne scored McLaren-Honda’s first world championship point of the season after a faultless drive to 10th place on his grand prix debut.
The young Belgian, deputising this weekend for Fernando Alonso, started 12th, stayed out of trouble on the opening lap as the field bunched up and collected one another on the approach to Turn One.
Thereafter, he kept his nose clean throughout all four stints, pulled off some confident passing manoeuvres and drove cleanly and consistently to the chequered flag.
Stoffel said: “This result was more or less what I expected – I maximised the opportunity and I’m quite satisfied.
“The start was a little bit difficult. There was debris left and right – it was pretty hectic in fact – and there was a lot of fighting throughout that opening lap.
“This weekend was a big opportunity for me. I made the most of it, I showed what I’m capable of, and now I just need to wait and see what happens next.
“That’s not for me to decide – so let’s see what the future brings.”
McLaren colleague Jenson Button, however, had a short-lived race.
After running inside the top 10, he encountered a sudden power unit issue and was forced to pull the car onto the run-off and retire on lap seven.
Button said: “In the race I had a loss of power and then the car stopped. We don’t know yet exactly what the problem was – the car just cut out. I initially felt it out of Turn Two, and I eventually stopped at Turn 10.
“It’s a pity; I got a really good start, and made up lots of places, overtaking three cars at Turn 10 under braking, so I was pretty chuffed with that.
“So it’s a real shame, as I say: before I stopped, I was saving a lot of fuel, my tyres were in good condition, and I was just cruising behind the cars in front.”
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