SAKHIR, Bahrain — Nico Rosberg made it back-to-back wins to start the new Formula One season by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, capitalizing on a first-corner collision involving Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and an engine failure which prevented Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel starting the race.
Rosberg led throughout to win by 10.2 seconds at the Sakhir circuit from Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton recovering from the collision with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and finishing third. It was the fifth straight win for Rosberg, dating back to last season, and his first in Bahrain.
"The key was the start, I made a great getaway," Rosberg said. "I tried to control the race, I was very, very happy with the day, awesome to get the win."
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fourth and Romain Grosjean fifth in another encouraging performance by the new American-based Haas team. Toro Rosso teenager Max Verstappen was sixth and Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat seventh, ahead of the Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, with McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne in 10th to take a point on his F1 debut.
There was drama on the warm-up lap as smoke began pouring from the back of Vettel's Ferrari and he immediately parked the car. It was the second reliability failure for Ferrari already this season after trouble struck Raikkonen in Australia.
Pole-sitter Hamilton again got off to a poor start, like he did in Melbourne, as he adjusts to the new rule restricting drivers to a single clutch at the start. The Briton was running behind Rosberg at the first corner when Bottas made an ambitious move and collided with the right side of the Mercedes, dropping Hamilton down to seventh at the end of the first lap.
Bottas was blamed by stewards and was forced to do a pitlane drive-through penalty.
With his chief rivals out of the equation, Rosberg sailed away up front, and had pushed his lead out to 8.5 seconds after six laps and more than 14 by the first round of pitstops for the top cars, beginning on lap 12.
The top three matched tire strategy except for Hamilton being put onto the hardest-available medium compound for his middle stint while Rosberg and Raikkonen were on softs.
Raikkonen has finished on the podium in Bahrain eight times without winning.
"I had a bad start and after a few laps we were one straight behind Nico and it's hard to recover from that," Raikkonen said.
Hamilton carried damage on the right side of the chassis throughout the race after the first-corner collision.
"We still managed to get back up there," Hamilton said. "I had so much damage on the car I could not keep up with Kimi."
Chris Lines, The Associated Press