Mercedes expect more of a fight from Ferrari
By Alan Baldwin
MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One champions Mercedes can rack up their eighth successive victory on Sunday but even if they do, a winning streak must end for either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg in Bahrain.
Rosberg is chasing his fifth win in a row after starting the season triumphantly in Australia to follow the three victories he racked up at the end of 2015.
Hamilton, the triple world champion who finds himself behind his German team mate in the standings for the first time since 2014, is on for a hat-trick after winning in Bahrain for the past two years.
The Briton is the favorite at a circuit that has yet to witness a Rosberg victory but Ferrari, who roared into the lead at the start in Melbourne with Sebastian Vettel followed by Kimi Raikkonen, also fancy their chances.
Had the race not been halted by Fernando Alonso's massive crash, with the McLaren driver now rested and raring to go again, Ferrari might have won and they certainly narrowed the gap to the champions.
In Melbourne last year, Mercedes finished one-two with Vettel third and 34 seconds off the pace. This time, Vettel was just 9.6 seconds behind Rosberg and 1.5 adrift of Hamilton.
Sunday's race at the Sakhir circuit, in the desert sands south of Manama, could be even closer.
"Bahrain is a track that should suit Ferrari, so we expect even smaller gaps and a very close match this weekend," said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff. Continued...