Sun, 3rd Apr, BIC, Sakhir – Nico Rosberg claimed his first-ever victory in the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix this evening at a brilliantly floodlit Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.
Following the conclusion of the race, Arif Rahemi, Chairman of Bahrain International Circuit, said:
“I congratulate Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes team on an outstanding victory in today’s race, which, yet again, showcased the very best of F1 under lights here at the BIC. With another record race day crowd of 32,500 today and 92,000 over the weekend, it has been a further demonstration that our night races are attracting a new breed of fans and offer a superb spectacle for the crowd here at BIC and television viewers alike. I thank all those who have made this week possible.
“As my first race as Chairman, it has been an honour to welcome all our guests to ‘The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East’ and I look forward to seeing you all here next year.”
Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of Bahrain International Circuit, added:
“In a weekend which broke the long-standing lap record at BIC, it reminds us of the incredible technology which sits within F1 in the new hybrid era. I offer my congratulations to all those involved and especially the outstanding engineering which has enabled that remarkable achievement.
“A huge amount of work goes into putting on an F1 race and I particularly thank my team here at BIC for their tireless efforts over countless months, ensuring a superb weekend of entertainment on and off the track. I also thank our partners and sponsors for their continued support.”
Rosberg put in a dominant drive as he claimed his second successive victory to start the 2016 Formula 1 season. He charged off the start line cleanly and immediately took over as the leader before enjoying a flawless and untroubled race from then on.
The win was Rosberg’s fifth in a row dating back to the final three races of last season and including Australia a fortnight ago.
“It’s been an awesome weekend,” said Rosberg. “The key was the start; I had a quick getaway and from then on I was trying to control the pace. It’s absolutely awesome to get the win.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished as the runner-up for the second straight year, while Rosberg’s Mercedes teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton completed the podium placers.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister was on hand to present the winning constructor’s trophy to Mercedes Engineering Director Aldo Costa.
Handing over the trophies to the top three drivers were Gulf Air Acting CEO Maher Al Musallam, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Hisham Al Jowder, and Bahrain Motor Federation President/Commission Internationale de Karting President Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Rosberg led much of the race by a comfortable margin and at the end of the 57-lap challenge was classified 10.2 seconds in front of Raikkonen. Hamilton was well behind the leading pair, finishing the race 30.148s behind the winner.
“Congrats to Bahrain; such a great race track here,” said Rosberg, who made his Formula 1 debut at BIC back in 2006.
Raikkonen had a poor getaway and did all he could to fight back. Hamilton, on the other hand, was behind Rosberg heading into BIC’s Michael Schumacher Turn (Turn One), but was T-boned by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. He dropped to ninth but put in a fine effort to make up for his lost places.
“I had a bad start,” Raikkonen explained. “After a few laps, I had gone straight behind Nico and it was pretty hard to recover. It was bad luck.”
Added Hamilton, whose two-year winning streak in Bahrain ended tonight: “A big thank you to the fans. I got some incredible support here; I’ve been so well taken care of.”
Ferrari ace Sebastian Vettel, who had qualified third and who was widely tipped to be the biggest threat to a third straight Mercedes win in Sakhir, was unfortunate not to even make the start. He suffered an engine failure on the formation lap, which was the beginning of an eventful and exciting start to the race.
Daniel Ricciardo (+62.494s) of Red Bull Racing finished in fourth place, while Romain Grosjean (+78.299s) continued the fine start to the season of Formula 1 debutants Haas by claiming fifth place.
Young Max Verstappen (+80.929s) finished sixth for Toro Rosso, while Daniil Kvyat (+1 lap) of Red Bull, Felipe Massa (+1 lap) and Bottas (+1 lap) of Williams, and Stoffel Vandoorne (+1 lap) of McLaren rounded out the top 10.
It was an impressive debut for Vandoorne in Formula 1. He took the place of superstar Fernando Alonso, who was not allowed to compete due to health concerns.
The rest of the final classification, from 11th to 17th (all of whom were also +1 lap), respectively, included Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, Force India pair Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, and Manor’s Rio Haryanto.
Not classified for different reasons were Carlos Sainz Jr of Toro Rosso, Esteban Gutierrez of Haas, Jenson Button of Mclaren, Vettel and Jolyon Palmer of Renault.