Sakhir, Bahrain (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his third win in the first four races this season after putting on a dominating performance in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton started on pole and only relinquished the lead during this 57-lap race when he pitted twice. This event at Bahrain International Circuit was run at nighttime for the second year in a row. The Mercedes driver also won last year's Bahrain GP after starting second.
Hamilton crossed the finish line 3.38 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and six seconds in front of Nico Rosberg, who is Hamilton's teammate at Mercedes.
It was the 36th career F1 win for Hamilton, who widened his lead in the championship standings to 27 points over Rosberg. Hamilton has accumulated 93 points for the season compared to 66 for Rosberg.
"Big thank you to my team. They did an amazing job this weekend," Hamilton said. "Ferrari gave us a really good run for our money. Out there, it was really difficult to look after the tires in these conditions. Fortunately, I was able to keep the car together and keep the tires as healthy as possible. We need to keep pushing as a team."
Late in the race, Rosberg experienced a brake problem while running in second. Rosberg ran too wide in turn 1 on the penultimate lap, allowing Raikkonen to overtake him for the position.
"I lost my brakes two laps from the end, so I went straight on and that cost me the position to Kimi, which is very disappointing," Rosberg said.
Hamilton also had some braking problems in the closing laps, but it did not interfere with his pace.
"I think my brakes just got a bit warm when I was behind a few back markers, and when you get behind them, there's no cool air coming into the brakes, so they got a bit warm, but it wasn't really a problem," Hamilton said.
Raikkonen's second-place finish marked his 78th career podium in F1, but his first since the Korean Grand Prix in October 2013 when he drove for Lotus. Raikkonen rejoined Ferrari in 2014 after he had won the world championship with the Italian team in 2007.
"We came through very quickly in the end, but we ran out of laps," Raikkonen said. "I think we have to be happy where we finished after where we qualified (fourth)."
Sebastian Vettel, in his first season with Ferrari, started second and had been in contention to win this race until lap 36 when he went wide in turn 14 and damaged his front wing, forcing the four-time world champion to unexpectedly pit for repairs. Vettel ended up finishing fifth. He is now 28 points behind Hamilton.
"I felt like I let the team down a little bit when it was in reach," Vettel said. "Kimi proved with second it is possible, and he drove a good race. It would have been difficult to catch Nico and overtake him."
Valtteri Bottas from Williams placed fourth. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo took the sixth spot, followed by Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez from Force India.
Red Bull's Daniel Kvyat and Felipe Massa from Williams completed the top-10. Massa qualified sixth but had to start from pit lane after he had a problem with his car on the grid, prior to the formation lap.
Jenson Button did not start the race due to a technical problem with his McLaren. It was a disastrous weekend for Button in Bahrain, as he suffered electrical problems in both of Friday's practice sessions and then failed to set a lap time in qualifying when his Honda-powered car came to a stop on the track. He would have started the Bahrain GP from the rear of the field.
Button's teammate, Fernando Alonso, finished 11th.