The Bahrain Grand Prix served up another Lewis Hamilton victory, his third victory in four races in 2015. But it could have been a different story if the race was one lap longer with both Mercedes having brake issues during the final 1 ½ laps. Nico Rosberg succumbed to the hard charging Kimi Raikkonen on the penultimate lap by going wide at turn one with race leader Hamilton just four seconds up the road.
It was bad news for Jenson Button who failed to take the start, his McLaren suffered an ERS failure for added disappointment after the disappointment of grinding to a halt in qualifying meaning he would have started in 20th and last place. Williams’ Felipe Massa also suffered issues, failing to get away on the formation lap, meaning the Brazilian had to start from the pit lane instead of his grid slot of sixth.
Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel got off the line well from the front row although the Ferrari driver had to move across to cover Rosberg which allowed Vettel’s team mate Raikkonen to get ahead of the Mercedes through turn one. But by the time the race reached lap four, Rosberg retook third place from Raikkonen, after which, the Finn appeared to lose pace and fell backwards towards fellow Finn, Valteri Bottas, meanwhile by lap six, Bottas’ Williams team mate and pit lane starter Massa was upto 13th from 19th.
On lap nine, Vettel outbraked himself going into turn one gifting Rosberg second place. But the four time champion retook second place after pitting before Rosberg and successfully undercut the Mercedes driver through pit strategy. But three laps later, Rosberg was once again in front of Vettel with his second overtake of the German on track at the first corner, showing a clear Mercedes speed advantage.
The midfield runners gave us a good show again with Felipe (or “Fred” as Martin Brundle called him) Nasr overtaking Massa for 10th place before the Felipe’s dived into the pits along with Pastor Maldonado and despite the Venezuelan being last in the pit lane queue, he managed to jump both Nasr and Massa by the pit lane exit with rookie Nasr losing two places, entering the pits in 10th and leaving in 12th.
Vettel successfully undercut Rosberg again during the second round of pit-stops, but the end result was the same, this time Vettel went wide at the final turn, damaging his front wing in the process allowing Rosberg to move back into second place down the main straight. Vettel’s damaged front wing required an additional stop which cost him 35 seconds, dropping him back to fifth place behind Bottas’ Williams.
As hard as Vettel tried, Bottas was too fast for him to make a serious overtaking move, even with DRS, so it ended in a stalemate. Bottas’ Williams’ team mate Massa finished the race in 10th place, falling from eighth place on degraded tyres, losing out to Sergio Perez, 8th and Daniil Kvyat, 9th in the closing stages.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean had anonymous races, from the race coverage. I hardly saw either of them holding onto sixth and seventh places, which has to be considered a good result for both drivers given their relative performance compared to Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams. But Ricciardo took the chequered flag in spectacular style with a massive engine blowup as he entered the final straight!
So overall, the race was much more exciting than China, last week, lots of movement throughout the field except for the lead, which Hamilton had control over at all times. I, personally would never have predicted (and I didn’t on the Forumula1 Forum Pool) that Raikkonen would have been up there within 3 ½ seconds of Hamilton at the end of the race. Which does beg the question, did Ferrari leave Raikkonen out too long in his second stint? he was definitely losing time to rivals at that point. Did he lose more than four seconds? could have been the difference between second and victory with Hamilton’s brake woes.
2015 Bahrain Grand Prix Results
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35:05.809
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +3.3
3. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +6
4. Valteri Bottas (Williams) +42.9
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +43.9
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +61.7
7. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) +84.7
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) +1 LAP
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP