Lewis Hamilton took his second consecutive win of the season, ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, the two of them joined on the podium by Sergio Perez for Force India. The other winner under the floodlights in the desert was the sport of Formula 1, as the race was absolutely spellbinding, with duels throughout the field from start to finish. Unfortunately, the two Ferrari drivers could only play supporting roles, Fernando Alonso coming home ninth, one ahead of Kimi Raikkonen as the F14 T showed up its Achilles Heel, namely a lack of top speed.
The first ever Bahrain night race got underway with Kimi ahead of Fernando on the grid for the first time this season and the the two F14 Ts were side by side soon after the start, with the Spaniard pushing past the Finn, so that they were 7th and 8th, until the Finn was hit by Magnussen in the McLaren and dropped to ninth. At the front, the two Mercedes duelled wheel to wheel, with pole man Rosberg dropping to second behind Hamilton. Massa shot up four places to third in the Williams, ahead of Perez in the Force India, with Bottas fifth in the Williams ahead of Button, the Englishman in his 250th GP, ahead of Fernando. On lap 5, Hulkenberg got his Force India ahead of Fernando, who in eighth spot, was leading the non-Mercedes powered championship. Raikkonen and Vettel were in close attendance, until Fernando extended the gap slightly on lap 9.
Both Ferrari men ran a three stop strategy, as did the majority of the field, going for Soft, Soft, Medium and finally Soft in terms of the tyres they ran. They made their last stops together on lap 41, during a Safety Car period, the other visits to pit lane coming on laps 12 and 28 for Fernando and 13 and 33 for Kimi.
Lap 19 and Fernando had to cede 6th place to Perez. One lap later and Kimi was passed by Button, so the Finn was now ninth. The race leader, Rosberg, came in on lap 21, taking on Medium tyres, while Kimi was clearly struggling as he had his mirrors full of Vettel. With the whole field having stopped, the order on lap 23 was Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas, Massa, Hulkenberg, Perez, Alonso seventh, Button, Raikkonen, ninth with Vettel tenth.
Then, a huge crash when Maldonado in the Lotus hit Gutierrez’s Sauber, tipping the Mexican right over, thankfully with the car landing on its wheels, brought out the Safety Car, so Fernando and Kimi came in on lap 41 for their third and final stops, fitting Medium tyres. Behind the SC, Fernando was tenth, with Kimi right behind him. Despite trying all they could to make up places, the fact that they were swamped from behind on the straights, while those ahead were out of reach, meant it was a lost cause today.
Fernando finally passed Button for ninth on lap 50, where he would stay to the flag, Kimi right behind him. For the Maranello squad, it was a very long night for 3 points. However, there is no rush to pack everything away, as all eleven teams will be testing here at the Sakhir circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday, as part of the relaxation of the in-season testing ban that had previously been in place.
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