Nico Rosberg took an easy win in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, as pole man Lewis Hamilton came to grief on the first lap.

The reviled elimination-style qualifying system was still in place for the race (a meeting to come up with an alternative failed) and reigning champ Hamilton set the pace, albeit with a slim margin to teammate Rosberg.

As happened last time out in Australia, Rosberg got the holeshot away from the line and slipped into the lead by the first corner. He never looked back, romping to victory having only relinquished the lead for a single lap as he made a pitstop.

Hamilton had a much more interesting race. Williams pilot Valtteri Bottas got a lightning start, vaulting from sixth on the grid to challenge Hamilton for second at the first corner. But the Finn misjudged the move and clattered into the Mercedes. Both cars tumbled down the order, but Hamilton set about fighting his way back through the field, despite bodywork damage which reduced downforce and caused a nasty vibration.

Hamilton admitted the race was a damage limitation exercise and his third place finish means he is only 17 points adrift of Rosberg in title race. With 19 races remaining, the championship battle is shaping up nicely.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen split the Mercedes, his second place finish a welcome boost to the Italian squad after Sebastian Vettel’s engine expired in spectacular fashion before the race had even started. Heads will no doubt be knocked together in Maranello after two engine failures in two races.

Daniel Ricciardo had a lonely race to fourth, while Romain Grosjean continued the Haas team’s spectacular run in its debut season with fifth place.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the race, however, was that of debutante Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian got a late call-up to replace the injured Fernando Alonso at McLaren and only arrived in Bahrain on Thursday. The weekend got off to a flying start as he outqualified teammate Jenson Button, then he put in a solid performance in the race to finish tenth, claiming McLaren’s first point of the season. Button, meanwhile, retired with an engine issue after six laps.

The next stop on the Formula 1 trail is Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix on 17 April.

Bahrain Grand Prix results after 57 laps

  1. Nico Rosberg — Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team/Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid — 1:33:34.696
  2. Kimi Raikkonen — Scuderia Ferrari/Ferrari SF16-H — +10.282
  3. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team/Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid — +30.148
  4. Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull Racing/Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 — +1:02.494
  5. Romain Grosjean — Haas F1 Team/Haas-Ferrari VF-16 — +1:18.299
  6. Max Verstappen — Scuderia Toro Rosso/Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR11 — +1:20.929
  7. Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull Racing/Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 — +1 lap
  8. Felipe Massa — Williams Martini Racing/Williams-Mercedes FW38 — +1 lap
  9. Valtteri Bottas — Williams Martini Racing/Williams-Mercedes FW38 — +1 lap
  10. Stoffel Vandoorne — McLaren Honda F1 Team/McLaren-Honda MP4-31 — +1 lap
  11. Kevin Magnussen — Renault Sport F1 Team/Renault RS16 — +1 lap
  12. Marcus Ericsson — Sauber F1 Team/Sauber-Ferrari C35 — +1 lap
  13. Pascal Wehrlein — Manor Racing MRT/MRT-Mercedes MRT05 — +1 lap
  14. Felipe Nasr — Sauber F1 Team/Sauber-Ferrari C35 — +1 lap
  15. Nico Hulkenberg — Sahara Force India F1 Team/Force India-Mercedes VJM09 — +1 lap
  16. Sergio Perez — Sahara Force India F1 Team/Force India-Mercedes VJM09 — +1 lap
  17. Rio Haryanto — Manor Racing MRT/MRT-Mercedes MRT05 — +1 lap
  18. Carlos Sainz Jr. — Scuderia Toro Rosso/Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR11 — DNF (crash)
  19. Esteban Gutierrez — Haas F1 Team/Haas-Ferrari VF-16 — DNF (brakes)
  20. Jenson Button — McLaren Honda F1 Team/McLaren-Honda MP4-31 — DNF (engine)
  21. Sebastian Vettel — Scuderia Ferrari/Ferrari SF16-H — DNS (engine)
  22. Jolyon Palmer — Renault Sport F1 Team/Renault RS16 — DNS (hydraulics)

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By Only Motors