sport

Hamilton wins epic Bahrain GP

Lewis Hamilton emerged on top in a compelling race-long duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg in an epic Bahrain GP.

Hamilton claimed back-to-back wins as the gloves came off for the first time between the two championship favourites and F1 2014 definitively came alive.

After a build-up to the race dominated by debates and arguments in the paddock by some of F1's most influential figures over the sport's controversial new era of quieter engines and fuel efficiency, the thrilling action served up over the course over the 57 laps of racing around a floodlit Sakhir provided the first contrary evidence suggesting perhaps not too much is wrong with the sport's 'rules reset' after all.

In a race characterised by wheel-to-wheel duels between team-mates, Hamilton seized the lead from polesitter Rosberg into the first corner and then just about held on to the chequered flag despite several periods of concerted pressure from the sister Mercedes.

Despite the close nature of their combat, first on laps 17-18 when Rosberg twice briefly retook the lead only for Hamilton to swipe back in front and then late on after a Safety Car had wiped out Hamilton's mid-race advantage, the two W05s just about kept stayed clear of contact and Hamilton eventually took the chequered flag by exactly one second to secure his first consecutive wins since 2010.

Rosberg, with two second places since his season-opening victory in Melbourne, still holds the championship lead, but Hamilton has closed the deficit to 11 points and, with two victories over his team-mate inside a week, perhaps gained the early psychological edge in what is currently an exclusive battle for honours at the front of the field.

But while the two Mercedes drivers, as expected, were in a race of their own, the action behind was equally as thrilling as several other pairs of team-mates probably caused their respective pitwalls no end of angst.

That was certainly the case at Force India as Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, recovering from his Q2 exit on Saturday, waged their own duel for much of the race for third place. The scrap was eventually won by Perez as the Mexican, after a near anonymous start to 2014, secured just Force India's second podium finish - and their first since 2009.

Hulkenberg eventually finished two places behind his team-mate in fifth after he was overtaken by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo late on, the Australian making up for a succession of disappointments at the start of the season to finally officially register his first points for the World Champions with fourth.

Not only did the Australian recover from his 13th-place grid position, he overtook quadruple World Champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the position late on, the German complaining over the radio of a lack of straight-line speed from his RB10.

The Williams pair had, for much of the race, run higher up the order - largely thanks to a storming start from Felipe Massa while vaulted the Brazilian behind the Mercedes pair into Turn One.

But with the FW36 experiencing higher tyre wear to the cars ahead which necessitated that both drivers stopped three times, Massa and Valtteri Bottas eventually came home in seventh and eighth respectively.

As in Malaysia, the pair finished less than a second apart, but after the team orders row of seven days ago, Williams appeared to wisely let their drivers race to the chequered flag this time.

Completing the near-'Noah's Ark' nature of the top ten, Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen came home ninth and tenth respectively. On the day the team's President Luca di Montezemolo arrived in the paddock to air his grievances over the sport's new era, the result provided more depressing evidence for the Scuderia that its a formula they are a long way from mastering.