Damage from a first lap clash with Valtteri Bottas left Lewis Hamilton to fight back to third place in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, losing more ground on Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the title race.
Hamilton started from pole in Bahrain, but made a poor start for the second race in a row to drop behind Rosberg on the run down to the first corner.
The fast-starting Bottas tried to slip up the inside of Hamilton into Turn 1, only for the two to make contact, leaving the Mercedes driver with damage and dropping him down to ninth place.
Hamilton was able to fight his way back up to third place after making his first pit stop, but damage on his Mercedes car meant he was unable to cut the gap to Rosberg or Raikkonen ahead.
“Damage limitations, congratulations to Nico, kind of an easy race for him I would assume,” Hamilton said on the podium after the race.
“I’m glad that it wasn’t more points [lost], obviously I could have not finished the race. The team was hoping for a safety car or something. I had so much damage that I couldn’t keep up with Kimi. I was fighting but the rear end was nowhere.
“I did what I could with it, and at the end was just trying to keep the tires in case I got a chance with the safety car.”
Hamilton has now suffered five consecutive defeats to Rosberg, and trails the German driver by 17 points in the drivers’ championship after two races of the 21-round season.