Getting squeezed on the inside of the tight turn 1 at the start of the race in Bahrain and then getting hustled onto the dirt by Kimi Raikkonen a few corners later made for a difficult first lap for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.

Starting from fifth place, he ended up demoted to ninth place and battling for the remainder of the race to make up for lost ground.

"I had a pretty bad first lap today, but after that I was able to recover and get the most of our race. We had a good strategy and the pace of the car was pretty strong," he said. "It was difficult to make progress as there were a lot of cars fighting for the same positions.

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"Overall I'm happy with our weekend as fifth place gives me a few more points and I can see that we are making progress," he added.

Rosberg had to visit the race stewards over two on-track incidents during the race, the first being between Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on lap 11 when the Mercedes appeared to force the McLaren off the track and onto the dirt after Hamilton's first pit stop, and a subsequent incident between Rosberg and Fernando Alonso while fighting for position after the second round of pit stops.

The race stewards cleared Rosberg of any wrong doing in the incident with Hamilton, deciding that the Mercedes had been far enough in front to make his wide line through turn 4 justifiable. Hamilton kept his foot down and completed the pass regardless,although he came dangerously close to clipping the barrier in the process.

The subsequent incident with Alonso was also declared a racing incident. The data showed that Rosberg had not blocked or changed his direction more than was allowed, and the stewards decided that no further action was required in that case either and no penalty would be applied.

Compared to Rosberg's up-and-down and controversial race outing, his senior team mate Michael Schumacher had a much quieter day of it as he overcame problems in qualifying and a penalty for an overnight gearbox change to creep into the points in tenth place by the end of the race.

"Considering where I started the race today, it's a positive that I was able to fight up to 10th place, score a point and finish a dry race this season," said Schumacher. "We had to adapt the driving style to keep the tyres together."

Team principal Ross Brawn described the Bahrain Grand Prix as a "tough but ultimately rewarding race" for Mercedes.

"We saw again today that if you get the car right on the day, it makes a great deal of difference, with Red Bull and Lotus clearly getting their cars in better shape than we did," he said.

"We will learn more lessons from today, however we made the best of what we had so I'm reasonably happy. Now we can look forward to some time back at the factory to improve the car before the next race."

Mercedes-Benz Motorsports' Norbert Haug said that the team was looking forward to the next race in Barcelona in mid-May, and the opportunity to "introduce upgrades which will be evaluated during the Mugello test."