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Five in a row Nico Rosberg wins Bahrain Grand Prix and extends championship lead

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Five in a row Nico Rosberg wins Bahrain Grand Prix and extends championship lead
Apr 3, 2016, 5:37 PM

Nico Rosberg joined an exclusive club of drivers who have won five consecutive Grands Prix, with victory in the Bahrain GP today, six seconds ahead...

Nico Rosberg joined an exclusive club of drivers who have won five consecutive Grands Prix, with victory in the Bahrain GP today, six seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and a distant Lewis Hamilton.

That club contains his team mate Lewis Hamilton but not Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

He moved 17 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship and 35 ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who retired before the start. Perhaps most soberingly, he finished over a minute ahead of fourth placed Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

Rosberg's cause was helped by a first lap tangle between Hamilton and Valterri Bottas, after the world champion had another poor getaway off the line. But Rosberg again managed the race perfectly.

It was another example of how the new rule providing three different tyre options for the race has greatly improved the racing and the intrigue. Without the supersoft being available, this would have been a very different race.

One of the main talking points was the pace of the Haas F1 car of Romain Grosjean, who finished in an impressive 5th place; he took advantage of two new sets of supersoft tyres to run an attacking strategy, that became a thought leader for the leading teams.

Mercedes and Ferrari both made the switch to supersofts around Lap 30, rather than take the conservative approach with medium tyres. Williams were forced to take that approach by not having any new soft tyres for the race, the error Ferrari made in Australia.

The medium tyre was about as popular in Bahrain as a new qualifying format proposal.

The race got off to a controversial start as Valtteri Bottas collided with Lewis Hamilton in Turn 1, sending the world champion down to 9th on the opening lap. Bottas was given a drive through penalty for it.

Rosberg got the better start and led the race, with Felipe Massa in second, Bottas third and Ricciardo fourth. Raikkonen got a poor start and was only 5th in the opening stages.

Sebastian Vettel's challenge was over before the race even started when the engine failed on the formation lap. Raikkonen and Hamilton both worked hard to recover from their poor starts, passing cars in the opening stint. Button retired on Lap 8 when his ERS failed.

Button

Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull went aggressive on the strategy, being the first to pit on Lap 7 for soft tyres, triggering a response from Williams, who pitted Massa first onto softs and Bottas onto mediums. Bottas was undercut by Ricciardo in the process and then lost further places when he had to serve his drive through penalty.

By lap 10 Rosberg had a lead of 13.4 seconds over Raikkonen, with Hamilton up to third and Grosjean fourth, having started on new supersofts.

In the midfield battle, Hulkenberg was forced into an early stop after a collision, Grosjean pitted on Lap 12 onto new supersofts while Verstappen pitted a lap earlier onto soft tyres, but was behind Grosjean in the second stint. Vandoorne had pitted and was ahead of the pair.

Raikkonen pitted on Lap 13 and dropped back into the Ricciardo and Massa battle. He managed to repass Massa.

The Mercedes pair pitted on the same lap, Rosberg going onto soft and Hamilton onto the medium tyres, as Mercedes split the strategies. Hamilton's strategy being shifted to a two stop to race Raikkonen for second place.

Hamilton passed Ricciardo for third on Lap 17, with Rosberg almost 20 seconds ahead in the lead, with Raikkonen 10 seconds behind him. Grosjean on a second set of supersofts passed Massa for fifth on Lap 17.

It was clear Williams was paying the price for having no new soft tyres available, as Verstappen passed Massa on Lap 20.

At the front Rosberg measured his pace to Raikkonen in second place, with a 12 second margin between them.

Romain Grosjean

Grosjean's stellar progress continued as he passed Ricciardo for fourth place on Lap 25, the Australian pitted soon after for soft tyres.

Verstappen pitted for mediums, while Grosjean took another set of supersofts as he continued his attacking strategy.

Hamilton triggered a sequence of stops among the front runners onto supersofts, having seen the pace of Grosjean on those tyres. Raikkonen reacted a lap later and then Rosberg a lap after that.

On Lap 32 Rosberg led Raikkonen, with Hamilton closing fast on the Ferrari, the pace was quite hot in the 1m 34s range. All three pitted for soft tyres to go to the finish, Rosberg's two slow pit stops had brought Raikkonen closer to the lead, just 4.8s behind. Hamilton was 16 seconds behind, as the Ferrari benefitted from the softer compound tyres.

But Rosberg had tyres that were two laps fresher, which was to his advantage.

In the closing stages, Verstappen caught and passed Massa in their battle for 6th place, while Pascal Wehrlein passed Hulkenberg for 14th place and finally battled Marcus Ericcson for 13th.

On his debut Stoffel Vandoorne did a solid job to bring the McLaren home in 10th place to score a point.

Starting tyres

The top eight all started on used supersoft tyres, while the notable decisions were Grosjean in 9th and Verstappen in 10th on new supersofts, Sainz on new softs, along with Kvyat, Wehrlein, Ericsson, Haryanto, Nasr, Magnussen, Vandoorne started on used supersofts.
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