German Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has won the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen of Finland finished second, ahead of Rosberg's Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton of Britain.
Rosberg, who had taken the Formula One season's opening race in Australia, coasted to victory in Bahrain, making it five wins in a row for the Mercedes driver.
Starting from second on the grid, Rosberg passed Hamilton, the pole-sitter, right at the beginning of the race. Hamilton's Mercedes then got tangled up with the car of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas as the Finnish driver tried to slip past the Briton on the inside at the first turn. Hamilton wound up dropping all the way back to ninth place before recovering for his third-place finish. The race stewards handed Bottas a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.
Vettel a non-starter
German driver Sebastian Vettel, who had finished third in qualifying and is seen as the main challenger to the two Mercedes studs, suffered an even worse setback, not even making to the start as his Ferrari suffered a mechanical failure and went up in smoke on the installation lap.
"It surprised us, we hadn't expected problems. I lost performance and then saw that smoke was coming out of the rear, and that was it," Vettel said afterwards.
This was the 16th Grand Prix win for Rosberg, who has won every F1 race since Hamilton clinched the drivers' championship with three races to go last season. Having taken the first two races of this campaign, Rosberg leads the standings with the maximum 50 points from the first two races, 27 more than Hamilton. The German is gunning for his first drivers' title after finishing second to Hamilton in 2014 and 2015.
Mercedes lead the constructors' standings with 83 points, 50 more than Ferrari. The Formula One season continues with the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17.
pfd/dv (dpa, SID, Reuters)