2014 BAHRAIN F1 GRAND PRIX
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes continued their dominance of the 2014 championship, finishing one-two with Nico Rosberg for the second race in a row.
Daniel Ricciardo staged a measured, strategic race during which he battled for pace, to end up fourth after starting thirteenth.
The race came alive late in the evening after Pastor Maldonado triggered a safety car after dumping Gutierrez into a roll.
The race was filled with overtaking moves and strategy, which made for a busy night for all the drivers.
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
Merecedes dominated the practice sessions, and not just the works team Mercedes AMG.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg kept popping up in the timesheets right up in the top five. Feranndo Alonso showed some form while Kimi Raikkonen struggled.
Qualifying turned into a thrilling battle between the two Mercedes, with Rosberg denying Hamilton the British record for most pole positions.
Daniel Ricciardo did a stellar job to qualify third before being dumped back to thirteenth, behind Vettel who could only manage tenth.
The Williams team finally got a dry qualifying session to show their form, Bottas making the second row with fourth before promotion to Ricciardo's P3.
The last traces of sunlight were fading in the sky as the cars lined up under lights for the first night race in the decade-long history of te Bahrain Grand Prix.
The lights went out and the 900th F1 race began with Rosberg losing his first place to Hamilton at the first corner. Rosberg argued the point through the first corners, almost ending up off the road at turn four.
Alonso got a great start, passing his teammate all the way back from ninth. Vettel took Magnussen and Hulkenberg rocketed into eighth. Turn four almost claimed Raikkonen who again had a moment with McLaren's Magnussen.
Felipe Massa got a massive start, rocketing into third and past his teammate who fell to fifth.
Ferrari's race wasn't looking good already - Nico Hulkenberg was able to breeze by Alonso who endded up with his his teammate right behind.
Vettel held his tenth place, which was actaully impressive as he was on the medium tyre whre all around him were on the faster soft tyre.
Ricciardo had a heart-stopping moment at turn one as he tried to pass Magnussen. The car stepped out to the left and he had to take to the outside of the track and let Magnussen pass again.
Jenson Button and Hulkenberg took Bottas' fifth place on lap ten, the Williams looking like it was in trouble. Bottas took to pit lane at the end of the lap, grabbing a quick adjustment to his front wing while he got new tyres.
Ricciardo resumed his attack on Magnussen and sold him a dummy around the outside. Magnussen braked as late as he could, but the Australian was able to dive down the inside at the change of direction.
The other Williams came under attack from Sergio Perez. A multi-corner battle ensued, with Massa arguing the place by locking up and coming back at Perez.
Alonso pitted on lap 10 to cover Bottas, but the Finn blew by as Alonso emerged from the pits in a clutch of backmarkers.
Adrian Sutil's miserable weekend ended on the grass after a touch with Marussia's Jules Bianchi. Bianchi dive-bombed at turn one and Sutil just didn't see him coming through and the German turned in on the Frenchman, making a mess of his front wing.
Sebastian Vettel had lost his DRS, leaving him vulnerable to attack from Ricciardo. The Australian seemed reticent to attack and Vettel was finally radioed to allow him past without drama.
Perez and Huleberg pitted within a lap of each other. The German Force India driver won the pit stop battle, dropping out in front of Perez who had to get past a Ferrari.
At the beginning of lap 18, Rosberg pulled off a huge move into turn one on his teammate Hamilton. The Brit patiently adjusted his line and fired back through. Rosberg did it again on the next lap triggering a multi-corner battle. They never touched but it was tremendously close.
Ricciardo pitted on lap 19, with a lightning 2.5 seconds stationary. Hamilton pitted on the following lap for the strategic edge. Rosberg's engineer urged him to push to cover Hamilton's stop.
As the pit stops shook out, Bottas emerged in third place, perhaps the biggest winner in the opening round of pit stops, but with tyres that were significantly older than those around him.
Jenson Button took Jenson Button at turn one on lap 21, taking eighth place from the Ferrari driver.
Rosberg pitted on lap 22 and fitted the slower medium tyre. Rosberg's in-laps were to no avail as Hamilton was quite some distance down the road.
By lap 24, the first six cars were running Mercedes engines, with Bottas, Massa, Hulkenberg and Perez following the two works cars.
On lap 25 Vettel squeezed by Kimi Raikkonen while Massa tried to push past Bottas. Bottas was on old tyres and struggling, asking the team if he could pit which he did at the end of lap 26.
Felipe Massa withstood a concerted attack from Hulkenberg. Massa rebuffed the Force India who then lost his place to Perez, who nearly knocked him off the track. He was less than pleased with his Mexican teammate.
Ricciardo and Alonso were locked in battle for several laps before attempting to pass the Spaniard a the beginning of lap 28. The RB10's left front was locked up but Raikkonen calmly held his line and stayed ahead.
Ricciardo continued to pressure Raikkonen on lap 30 but the Ferrari driver seemed implacable. The Finn was unable to fight off a charge on lap 33, losing not only to the Red Bull driver but also to Valtteri Bottas. He lost to Massa a lap later.
Bottas then marched past Ricciardo on lap 34 as Kimi Riakkonen pitted for new tyres. Massa passed Ricciardo a lap later.
Vettel was having an impressive race despite his problems. He passed Magnussen on lap 37 and shouldered past Maldonado in his ailing Red Bull.
Ricciardo had less mechanical trouble but more Ferrari trouble after his seocond stop. Ricciardo was on a mission, quickly passing Kevin Magnussen as well.
Massa pitted for the third time on lap 39, fitting the medium tyre. Magnussen retired the following lap and Button joined him just two laps from the end.
On lap 41 the race got a shake-up. Maldonado came out of the pits and tanked into the right rear tyre of Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber. The Sauber rolled twice with a twist after Maldonado. The Venezualan was awarded a ten second penalty.
Bottas leapt into the pits, as did both the Mercdes cars as the Safety Car was scrambled. This vaporised Hamilton's thirteen second lead setting up an epic battle for the win - Rosberg was on soft tyres, Hamilton on the mediums. Rosberg had slightly more fuel, too.
At the restart, the order was Hamilton, Rosberg, Perez and Hulkenberg. The Mercedes pulled away and the Force Indias squabbled, with Perez taking third, a position he would hold until the end.
The Mercedes fought hard, running wheel to wheel, while the Red Bulls and the Williamses all attacked Jenson Button and got past.
Within a handful of laps, the Mercedes were nine seconds away from the pack, running at one hundred perecent.
On lap fifty Daniel Ricciardo did the unthinkable and passed his teammate at turn one. Vettel didn't give up easily and shrugged off the German's determined fightback and passing the Force India of Hulkenberg.
The Mercedes traded lap times as they extended their lead by a second a lap. Rosberg was on the better tyre but Hamilton was absolutely on it, holding off some serious challenges, the pair seemingly ignoring Paddy Lowe's request to keep it clean.
Vettel wasn't keeping it clean either, all but ramming Massa off the road as the Williams fought for the German's sixth place.
Hamilton prevailed in a helter-skelter ten laps, and he knew he was lucky to be on the top step.
"What an incredible day. That was a really tough race tonight and I am absolutely delighted to have come home with the win. It's a long time since I had a race like that! My weekend started off well but I didn't really have great pace for qualifying and the race," Hamilton said.
"I knew that I needed a good start and to go into the first corner in the lead was crucial to my race this evening. From there, it was such a battle. Nico drove fantastically well and, in all honesty, he had the pace on me today but I managed to hold on."
Ricciardo came home in a surprising fourth place after an action-packed race, almost nicking third from Perez.
"The car came to me as the race went on and I was happy with how I moved up through the pack, so a good day. It was good fun to race Sebastian, it was hard but fair and we left each other room," Ricciardo said.
"That's what we want from each other and we discussed it beforehand, we're racers and that's what we enjoy doing."
Formula 1 returns in two weeks for the Chinese Grand Prix.
- Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1h38m42.743s
- Nico Rosberg - Mercedes +1.085s
- Sergio Perez - Force India-Mercedes +24.067s
- Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull-Renault +24.489s
- Nico Hulkenberg - Force India-Mercedes +28.654s
- Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull-Renault +29.879s
- Felipe Massa - Williams-Mercedes +31.200s
- Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes +31.800s
- Fernando Alonso - Ferrari +32.500s
- Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +33.400s
- Daniil Kvyat - Toro Rosso-Renault +41.300s
- Romain Grosjean - Lotus-Renault +43.100s
- Max Chilton - Marussia-Ferrari +59.900s
- Pastor Maldonado - Lotus-Renault +1m02.800s
- Kamui Kobayashi - Caterham-Renault +1m27.900s
- Jules Bianchi - Marussia-Ferrari +1 lap
- Jenson Button - McLaren-Mercedes +2 laps
Kevin Magnussen - McLaren-Mercedes - 40 laps
Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber-Ferrari - 39 laps
Marcus Ericsson - Caterham-Renault - 33 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso-Renault - 18 laps
Adrian Sutil - Sauber-Ferrari - 17 laps