for full race results.
- Hamilton leads whole race as pair scrap for lead until the flag
- Perez holds off Ricciardo for final podium spot
- Safety car for dramatic Gutierrez crash
Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back wins at the Bahrain Grand Prix after coming out on top in a thrilling battle with team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The two Mercedes cars fought for the lead in the final ten laps following a safety car period, and it was Hamilton who came out on top despite being on the slower medium compound tyre in the closing stint. The pair were separated by just one second over the line, while Sergio Perez took third place for Force India as he held of the charging Daniel Ricciardo by 0.4s.
Nico Hulkenberg finished fifth on an impressive day for Force India ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with the two Williams and two Ferraris rounding out the top ten.
Hamilton took the lead at the start of the race and held off Rosberg through Turn 4 before the two pulled comfortably away from the rest of the field as Felipe Massa slotted in to third place after a lightning start.
As the first stint settled down Ricciardo started to make progress, taking two goes to pass Kevin Magnussen before Perez took third from Massa by cutting back under the Williams at Turn 4.
Vettel started the race on medium tyres and was told that Ricciardo – on softs – was faster than him and told to let his team-mate through, which he duly did before pitting. Valtteri Bottas profited from an early stop to jump up to third place ahead of his team-mate, but then had to pit early again for a second time and his pace had allowed the two Force India's to close up, with Hulkenberg following Perez through on Massa.
The real action was happening at the front towards the end of the opening stint. Rosberg closed back in on Hamilton as the first pit stops approached and the two engaged in an exciting battle over the lead. Rosberg twice took Hamilton at Turn 1, immediately losing out on the first occasion while Hamilton retook the lead at Turn 5 the next time round.
With the two Mercedes running different strategies in the middle stint – Hamilton pulling a gap on soft tyres while Rosberg ran mediums - the race took another twist on lap 41. As he exited the pit lane, Pastor Maldonado hit the right rear of Esteban Gutierrez's car, sending the Sauber barrel-rolling across the track. Fortunately Gutierrez emerged unscathed but the following safety car wiped out Hamilton's advantage as both Mercedes pit for the final time.
The race had ten laps to run when it restarted and Hamilton was leading but on the slower medium tyre. Both drivers were told to make sure the cars finished the race, but battle was immediately rejoined as Hamilton had to defend vigorously in to Turn 4 on two occasions, while also twice seeing Rosberg attack down the inside of Turn 1.
As the lead two set a blistering pace in their fight, Ricciardo was making progress on soft tyres late on, passing Vettel in to Turn 1 and then Hulkenberg at Turn 11. The gap to Perez proved too big to close, however, as he finished less than half a second shy at the line.
With Mercedes having allowed their drivers to race, Rosberg opted against any desperate attempts in the closing two laps and came home a second behind his team-mate to see his championship lead cut to 11 points.
Vettel was unable to make the same sort of progress as Ricciardo and had to settle for sixth behind Hulkenberg, while the two Williams finished seventh and eighth having lost out on the safety car phase. Fernando Alonso pipped Kimi Raikkonen to ninth – ironically celebrating as he crossed the line – while both McLarens retired after the safety car with technical issues.