Defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in this year’s title race on Sunday when he drove to a near-flawless victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton, starting from the 42nd pole position of his career, led from lights to flag apart from two spells around the pits to claim the 36th win of his career and third in four races this year.
Hamilton came home 3.3 seconds clear of Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari who stole second from Nico Rosberg when the second Mercedes driver suffered a braking problem on the second last lap.
It had seemed the 29-year-old German would hold off Raikkonen’s late challenge, but both Mercedes lost their brakes in the final laps, Hamilton just hanging on to win.
Hamilton’s victory lifted him to 93 points in the championship, giving him a clear lead ahead of Rosberg, on 66 points.
Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams finished fourth after resisting a late attack from German Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Red Bull, his engine blowing up as he crossed the line ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India.
Russian Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull was ninth and Brazilian Felipe Massa was 10th in the second Williams.
After another sweltering day at the Sakhir Circuit, the race began as the floodlights replaced the sunshine with a calm Hamilton making a perfect departure.
At the other end of the grid, Briton Jenson Button’s wretched weekend was completed by his failure to start the race, McLaren-Honda having been unable to resolve their electronic problems.
Massa started from pit lane after failing to start the formation lap in his Williams, but he made light of that in the opening laps behind a field led in confident fashion by Hamilton.
Raikkonen made a fast start, as did Rosberg who attacked Vettel, and this lifted him into third when the Mercedes’ man slipped back after his failed assault on seizing second place.
But Rosberg fought back to regain third and squeeze inside Vettel’s Ferrari at turn one on lap nine.
With 15 laps to go, Hamilton led Rosberg by nearly five seconds and Raikkonen, clocking fastest laps, was adrift by 18 seconds in third.
The Finn cut into Rosberg’s advantage as the laps unfolded with Hamilton staying ahead of them both as the leading trio cut their way through lapped traffic on the closing laps.
Seeking his first podium finish for 26 races, Raikkonen became ever more animated. “Come on! Blue flags!” he shouted over the team radio. “They just don’t move those people.”