Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Hamilton takes Bahrain GP

Published:Monday | April 20, 2015 | 4:00 AM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car in front of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen (second place) and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, yesterday.

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP):

Lewis Hamilton's bid for a third Formula One title is gathering momentum after another convincing win in yesterday's Bahrain Grand Prix, while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg's status as his main challenger is under threat from a resurgent Ferrari team.

Hamilton won the race from pole position to strengthen his overall lead in the standings with his third win in four races, and 36th of his career. He is already 27 points ahead of Rosberg and 28 clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - the only driver to beat Hamilton so far.

"It doesn't matter who it's against, you try and beat everybody out there," Hamilton said, underlining how the F1 title race looks far from being the two-horse contest between Mercedes teammates it was last season. "It's great to be having a fight with the Ferraris."

The British driver started from pole for the first time in the desert race under floodlights and was largely untroubled, finishing ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Rosberg, whose braking problem with two laps remaining let in Raikkonen for his first podium in two years.

'run for our money'

"Ferrari gave us a really good run for our money, and we will need to keep pushing as a team," Hamilton said. "We're trying to win both championships. So we won't be 100 per cent happy because we wanted to finish 1-2."

Rosberg, meanwhile, has no wins and no poles so far and has only won one race in the past 15.

"(Hamilton) had good speed today, so it was impossible to get by him," Rosberg said.

Vettel looked set for a podium position until a late front-wing change ended the four-time F1 champion's chances, and he placed fifth behind Valtteri Bottas.

Jenson Button, last in Saturday's qualifying, did not start due to a technical problem, while Brazilian driver Felipe Massa stalled his car on his formation lap due to an electrical problem and started from the pit lane.

A late brake problem slowed Hamilton down a little on the final lap, but he crossed the line 3.3 seconds ahead of Raikkonen and 6 seconds clear of Rosberg - last year's runner-up. Hamilton stood on his Mercedes and pumped his fist in the air, before leaping into the arms of his crew. He then jumped up and down in delight as he climbed on to the podium.

Raikkonen was 1.1 seconds behind Rosberg, but overtook him on the outside after Rosberg went far too wide on a turn, prompting jubilant cheers in the Ferrari garage.

Rosberg said he lost his brakes at that moment, and team principal Toto Wolff said the team would analyse why both cars lost brake power.

sixth place

Meanwhile, Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo just about got over the line in sixth place, as his engine blew near the end of the final lap.

With sparks lighting up the night sky, Hamilton started well, holding off Vettel on the inside, while Raikkonen got ahead of Rosberg after the first turn.

Vettel was the first of the front-runners to go into the pits on lap 14 to change to soft tyres, by which point Hamilton was six seconds clear of Rosberg, who came in for a tyre change on lap 15, and Hamilton followed on the next lap.

With 20 of the 57 laps completed, Rosberg was 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen, who did the opposite in switching from soft to medium tyres, was 12 seconds behind Hamilton at the halfway stage. But the strategy worked for him late.

With some 20 laps remaining, a rare mistake from Vettel, running much too wide on a turn, allowed Rosberg past him.

Vettel came in shortly after to change a front wing.

Raikkonnen was still out on medium tyres with 40 laps gone.

He switched to the quicker softs on the following lap and gained huge time. With 10 laps to go, the 2007 F1 champion was only eight seconds behind Rosberg, who curtly told his engineers, "Please don't tell me the gap anymore."