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Duels in the desert - 5 brilliant Bahrain battles

30 Mar 2016

Regardless of whether the race has been run under the heat of the desert sun or the electric glow of floodlights, Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit has developed a reputation for producing wheel-banging tussles. We look back on some of the best…
Hamilton vs Rosberg, 2014

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"We were on the knife edge - and when you're on the knife edge, the risk increases," Lewis Hamilton said of his pulsating battle with Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix. "But I was not letting up. He was doing 100 percent, so I was doing 100 percent - I couldn't be doing 95 percent. He drove fantastically well, he was fair and I like to think I was as well. It was close. But we didn't damage each other's races - and the team put that trust into us, which was great." Hamilton eventually beat Rosberg across the line by just over a second, much to the relief of Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe on the Mercedes pit wall who'd seemingly spent the race with their hearts in their mouths...

 

Heidfeld vs Coulthard, 2006

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The 2006 race saw a tense head-to-head battle for victory between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, but lower down the order the action was no less fraught. BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld and Red Bull’s David Coulthard found themselves pitted against each other twice during the course of the 57-lap event. On the first occasion Coulthard used all of the road and more to try to keep Heidfeld behind, but eventually had to admit defeat. The second time around he was just as robust, but much more successful, eventually going on to finish two places ahead of the German in tenth. 

 

Alonso vs Massa, 2004

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As team mate to Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, Felipe Massa would infamously be asked to cede position to the Spaniard in the midst of a tight title battle, but back in 2004 the young Brazilian did everything in his power to keep the then-Renault driver at bay. A valiant defensive effort would eventually come to an end when the upwardly mobile Alonso sent one up the inside of the Sauber at Turn 11. It wouldn't be the only move the future double world champion would make that day...

 

Button vs Perez, 2013

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Having been encouraged by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh to ‘get his elbows out’ and be more ‘robust’ after a tentative start to the season, Sergio Perez incurred the wrath of Jenson Button at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix by indulging in a decidedly ‘tactile’ scrap with his erstwhile team mate. The unrelenting approach led the Mexican to an eventual sixth place finish.

 

Raikkonen vs Rosberg, 2015

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After his thrilling battle with Lewis Hamilton in 2014 (see above), Nico Rosberg was once again in the thick of the action last year, scrapping it out with the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen over second place. After dropping to fourth at the start, Rosberg completed a superb lunge on Raikkonen on Lap 4 to retake third place, but the Finn’s stubborn resistance to that move was a sign of things to come. Two laps from the flag, after a tremendous pursuit of the German on fresh tyres, Raikkonen took full advantage of Rosberg’s failing brakes to snatch P2.