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Hamilton triumphs in Bahrain, Räikkönen pips Rosberg at the last

Lewis Hamilton has won from pole in Bahrain, stretching his lead in the F1 title fight. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg lost second place to Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen in the closing laps after a combative outing.

Apart from a slightly slow first pit stop, which almost cost him his lead, Lewis Hamilton's race at the Sakhir International Circuit was relatively uneventful on Sunday. The Briton radioed in after rejoining the track just in front of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg to ask how his competitors had crept up on him.

"It was a little too close for comfort, that," Hamilton said. "What happened to my gap?"

Before long, however, Hamilton had reestablished a cushion and set about bringing home another 25 world championship points; the 30-year-old has only dropped seven all season.

Formel 1 - Großer Preis von Bahrain

Rosberg lost out off the line, then spent most the race grappling for position with the Ferraris

Behind Hamilton, the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg delivered a race-long scrap with the scarlet Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen.

Contrary strategy pays in the end for Kimi

Räikkönen, the only lead driver to save a set of faster, softer tires for the final stint of the race, ultimately won the battle for second. His tortoise-versus-hare strategy paid off, passing Rosberg with two laps remaining after the German ran wide into the first corner. What looked like an error under pressure from Rosberg, not his first in recent weeks, later transpired to be a braking problem late in the race.

"Sorry about the brakes, Nico," Rosberg's race engineer consoled after the German crossed the line in third position.

Räikkönen, on the podium for the first time this season, praised the "positive atmosphere" at Ferrari in 2015, following a tumultuous 2014 in which lead driver Fernando Alonso and a string of senior staff left the Scuderia.

Formel 1 - Großer Preis von Bahrain

Bahrain's podium was the first of the season not be filled by Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen was the new face

Sebastian Vettel spent most of the race fighting wheel-to-wheel with Rosberg for second spot, but the Tifosi's new favorite was forced to pit for a replacement front wing after running wide at Turn 15 and damaging his car. He rejoined the race behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and could not find a way past the Finn on slower, harder rubber in the final stint of the race.

Bottas holds Vettel at bay

Bottas came home in fourth, his best finish of the season, a day after saying that he was again competing without pain. He'd sustained a back injury that forced him to skip the first race of 2015 in Melbourne. "Back to your best," exclaimed Williams' chief engineer Rob Smedley when checking in with Bottas after he crossed the line.

Behind Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean both came home on the lead lap in sixth and seventh places. Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa rounded out the points-paying positions in eighth, ninth and tenth.

Fernando Alonso logged his best finish of the season for the struggling McLaren Honda outfit, but 11th position was not enough for the team's first points of the 2015 campaign.

Formel 1 - Großer Preis von Bahrain

So far in 2015, reigning champion Hamilton's knocking it out of the park

Sunday's win moves Hamilton 27 points clear of Rosberg in the drivers' championship, with Vettel a further point adrift for Ferrari. Räikkönen's podium propels the Finn into the top four after a slow start to the season. The two Williams drivers, Bottas and Massa, are next in line, with the points reflecting the current pecking order on the F1 grid: Silver Arrows out front, scarlet Ferraris leading the chase, with Mercedes-powered Williams "best of the rest," but not yet on par with the leading teams.

Bahrain marks the end of what most perceive as the first leg of the Formula One season. After a lengthy pause, the grid returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix near Barcelona on May 10. Many teams use this race as an opportunity to introduce major upgrades and improvements to their cars, making it a keenly-watched race on the calendar.

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