Round four of the 2015 F1 season took place earlier today, under the floodlights of the Bahrain International Circuit, and having delivered a pole lap nearly half a second faster than Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton was largely untroubled as he took his third win of the season. His race was uneventful, save for one slightly hairy moment when, after the first pit stops, Rosberg was right on his tail. Aside from that, he once again controlled the race, opening up a 27-point lead at the top of the standings in the process.
Not everyone had a race that was quite so straightforward. Vettel had split the Mercedes’ by qualifying second, and he held on to second at the first corner, whilst Raikkonen squeezed his Ferrari into third. Rosberg, beleaguered after being out-raced three races in a row, had to show some fight today, which thankfully he did, passing both Raikkonen and Vettel on the track in the first few laps, before passing Vettel again after the first stops, and again after the second stops (which saw Vettel make an error and run wide at the final corner, damaging his front wing enough to necessitate a change). However, Rosberg once again could not get close to Hamilton.
Raikkonen was on a different strategy to Vettel and appeared quicker, even before Vettel’s error. He closed in hard on Rosberg in the final stages of the race (aided in the final couple of laps by a brake problem for the Mercedes driver) and got by the German when he ran wide at turn 1.
Williams suffered at the start when Massa’s car wouldn’t move off the grid for the warm up lap, but he battled his way to 10th and a points finish, whilst Bottas got ahead of Vettel after the latter’s wing change, and used the power of his engine to keep Vettel at bay, taking a credible 4th place.
The Red Bulls both came home in the points, with Ricciardo in 6th (albeit crossing the line with a smoking engine) and Kvyat in 9th, whilst Grosjean took a credible 7th for Lotus and Perez took 8th for Force India, despite an initial charge from Sauber that suggested points were possible. Alonso came 11th for McLaren, a sign of ongoing improvements for the team, though Button couldn’t even start the race, thanks to an ERS problem.
Neither Toro Rosso finished, both having to retire due to mechanical problems.
A shout out has to go to Will Stevens of Manor, finishing some 40 seconds ahead of teammate Roberto Merhl, an impressive difference between the two today.
So Vettel, having raised his stock in recent weeks, has dented it a little today. Raikkonen impressed and Rosberg showed some spirit, but it was Hamilton who took 25 points. Will anyone stop him from winning in Spain on the 10th of May?