• Bahrain Grand Prix

Hamilton edges Rosberg in Bahrain thriller

Laurence Edmondson at Sakhir
April 6, 2014
Lewis Hamilton got the jump on Nico Rosberg into Turn 1 © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix after an enthralling race-long duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg, providing tactical and wheel-to-wheel thrills that will go some way to silencing Formula One's critics.

The Story of the Race

  • Shock: After starting from 13th, it was remarkable to see Daniel Ricciardo fight through the field. His pass on Sebastian Vettel seven laps from the end was sublime racing and a massive statement to a four-time world champion team-mate.
  • Shocker: Pastor Maldonado wins this by a country mile. What he was thinking coming into Turn 1 so hard down the inside of Esteban Gutierrez on lap 41 just after leaving the pits only he will know, but the ensuing crash was rather terrifying and the Sauber driver was very fortunate to walk away unscathed.
  • Best overtake: There are so many to choose from. Ricciardo on Vettel deserves honourable mention but Lewis Hamilton's pass on Nico Rosberg through Turn 1, and then how he held it through Turn 4, set the tone for the not only his race but the grand prix as a whole.
  • Best lap: Hamilton's two laps after the safety car period were absolutely superb. He was a bit of a sitting duck ahead of Rosberg on the slower tyre, but he kept his composure and his position and ultimately earned the victory.
  • Worst lap: Jenson Button, through no fault of his own, was going backwards on cold tyres after the safety car came in. Both Red Bull and Williams drivers swept past in quick succession.
  • Drive of the day: Hamilton, Ricciardo or Sergio Perez could all win this, all taking massive victories over their team-mates and doing so with some thrilling driving throughout.
  • Nate Saunders

The pair engaged in battle from the first lap when Hamilton took the lead at Turn 1 and was then forced to hold off Rosberg at Turn 4. It set the tone for the rest of the race as Mercedes let their two drivers engage in a high-speed duel that came within inches of disaster at times but gave Formula One a welcome shot of excitement to keep the doom-mongers at bay. The two Mercedes were well clear of the rest of the field, but an impressive drive by Sergio Perez secured Force India its first podium since 2009, albeit just 0.4s ahead of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull.

After the duelling on the first lap, Hamilton held a marginal lead over Rosberg and up until lap 18 the second Mercedes kept a respectable distance. However, ahead of the first scheduled pit stop the gloves came off and Rosberg attempted a move into Turn 1 with the help of DRS on the straight. Hamilton saw him coming and defended well, but Rosberg was back for more on the following lap and held the lead briefly on the run down to Turn 4 where Hamilton muscled his way back past.

Hamilton pitted first and stuck to a conventional strategy by sticking a second set of softs on the car, leading Rosberg's side of the Mercedes pit wall to opt for different tactics and fit mediums. The result was a multiple second gap between the two,, but with the promise that things would close up at the end when Rosberg could switch to softs and Hamilton would have to use the mediums.

However, the battle took another turn on lap 41 when Pastor Maldonado left the pits and flipped Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber clean off the ground at Turn 1. Maldonado's actions were inexplicable as he forced his Lotus into a gap that was always closing and Gutierrez stuck to his normal line. Gutierrez lifted himself out of the battered Sauber without assistance but a safety car was necessary to clear the wreckage.

Both Mercedes took the opportunity to pit under the caution period, putting Rosberg on soft tyres and giving him the opportunity to attack Hamilton on mediums. Just before the race restarted the drivers were told to get the cars to the finish by Paddy Lowe on the Mercedes pit wall and battle was rejoined.

Rosberg launched another attack on his team-mate at Turn 4 but Hamilton was able to hang him out to dry on the outside. Another opportunity emerged in the run down to Turn 1, but again Hamilton had an answer as he allowed Rosberg to outbrake himself and undercut him again to retake the lead into Turn 2. In the final laps Rosberg said his tyres were starting to fade and the two Mercedes crossed the line in formation to mark a memorable one-two.

In the battle behind, Perez held off a hard-charging Ricciardo for the final spot on the podium as both delivered impressive drives. After the safety car Ricciardo passed team-mate Sebastian Vettel for position with a bold move into the first corner with the help of DRS and then passed Nico Hulkenberg into the fast Turn 11, making use of the visible advantage in grip and downforce his car had over the Force India. He finished within a second of Perez and was convinced he could have found a way past if the race had lasted another lap.

Hulkenberg took sixth ahead of Vettel, who complained about a lack of power towards the end of the race. The two Williams finished seventh and eighth, even though Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas had been trading third and fourth position earlier in the race. Williams' strategy was hit particularly hard by the safety car but rear tyre degradation forced both drivers to make three pit stops.

Ferrari endured its most gruelling grand prix this year as both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen found themselves defending position for most of the race. In the end they finished ninth and tenth respectively, but the lack of power from the Ferrari engine was clear to see. Both McLarens failed to finish, with Kevin Magnussen retiring on lap 42 and Jenson Button pulling into his garage with just two laps remaining. Marcus Ericsson was the only other driver not to finish the race because of a reliability issue.

Pastor Maldonado was the undisputed villain of the day for causing this crash with Esteban Gutierrez © Getty Images
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