• Rosberg eases to his second straight win ahead of Raikkonen and a delayed Hamilon
  • Hamilton forced to fight-back after turn one collision with Bottas
  • Vettel fails to take the start after his Ferrari engine blows on the formation lap

Nico Rosberg has extended his early lead in the 2016 F1 standings with an untroubled run to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton could only manage third after a turn one skirmish and Sebastian Vettel failed to start altogether.

In a frantic beginning to the race, Mercedes driver Rosberg scrambled away best from second on the grid to grab the initiative around the opening bend and was never headed thereafter as clashes unfolded behind, the German proceeding to manage the margin behind to finish ten seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkkonen.

Indeed, Rosberg's fortunes were somewhat helped along by team-mate Hamilton suffering yet more turn one drama, this time being struck by an errant Valtteri Bottas as they rounded the right-hander and turned into a half spin as the field scattered behind.

Though Hamilton survived the strike - for which Bottas was given a drive-through penalty -, he was forced to claw his way back up from a brief low of ninth to eventually secure a fairly distant third at the chequered flag, behind the Ferrari of Raikkonen.

The race was also robbed of a factor in Vettel after a blow-out on his Ferrari forced him to park up on the formation lap, the German suffering a costly DNF and seemingly a power unit.

A second consecutive success for Rosberg, he was already clear of the competition at the end of the first lap as clips and clashes broke out behind him, triggered by the fast-starting Bottas, whose inside line would see him with nowhere to go when Hamilton came back across, the pair making contact.

More of a delay to Hamilton, Bottas - with a damaged wing - recovered to run behind his team-mate Felipe Massa at the end of the opening, the Williams pair in second and third, with Daniel Ricciardo, who also suffered wing damage in the concertina effect, fourth from Raikkonen, a slow-starter from the second row in the absence of Vettel.

With Hamilton down ninth briefly, he would recover to seventh by the end of the opening lap - behind Haas' Romain Grosjean -, and continued to pick his way up the order, his Mercedes still seemingly feeling no serious ill-effects from the impact.

Up front, however, Rosberg was stretching clear, 8.5secs ahead by lap six already and 12.3secs clear by lap 20 when Raikkonen ascended to second position ahead of the Williams and Ricciardo.

Though Rosberg offered a glimmer of hope for a battle when a laboured final stop allowed Raikkonen to get the gap down to less than five seconds, the Mercedes driver simply upped the pace again to stretch his advantage to the chequered to win by just over ten seconds.

Mirroring his result from twelve months ago and getting points on the board after his Australia DNF, Raikkonen brought it home for second place, Hamilton never quite getting himself into a position to mount a stronger challenge than third as he worked his way back up the order from his early delays.

The result means Rosberg has moved 17 points clear of Hamilton in the overall standings, while Mercedes is already 50 points clear in the constructors' reckoning from Ferrari, which has now suffered two straight DNFs.

Behind the top three, the tussle for the remaining points' positions proved entertaining, the different tyre strategic options playing out amongst the mid-pack teams.

In the end, despite his early wing damage, Ricciardo produced another noteworthy top four finish for Red Bull after moving clear in the closing stages, while Romain Grosjean built on Haas' landmark debut capitalising on his strategic options from starting ninth to make a great start and climbing to a superb fifth place finish.

Max Verstappen crossed the line in sixth after making swift gains in the closing stages in the super-soft shod Toro Rosso, passing Felipe Massa, who in turn was passed by Daniil Kvyat with three laps remaining, the Russian making good gains from 15th on the grid after going long on his first stint.

Having run second and third early on, it was a tough race for Williams in the end, Massa fading quickly to eighth in the closing stages after failing to make a two-stop strategy work, while Bottas - forced to serve a penalty for his Hamilton misdemeanour - laboured home in ninth.

Picking up the final point in 10th, Stoffel Vandoorne scores on his F1 debut, the Belgian keeping his nose clean - and pulling off some fine passes - to get McLaren on the board in 2016 at his first attempt.

Making up ground from his pit-lane start, Kevin Magnussen missed out on the points in 11th for Renault, ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who prevailed in an entertaining late race battle with Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor.

Meanwhile, Force India endured a torrid race, both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg suffering damage early on and never getting into the top ten hunt thereafter.

With his team-mate grabbing headlines, Jenson Button otherwise endured a troubled day by retiring after seven laps with mechanical problems, while Jolyon Palmer pitted into retirement at the end of the formation lap in the Renault.

Esteban Gutierrez, meanwhile, ran as high as seventh initially after gaining positions from the turn one skirmish, but would exit on lap ten with mechanical problems, as would Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard never recovering from an early collision with Sergio Perez that caused a puncture and damage.



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