Another dismal start from Lewis Hamilton gave Nico Rosberg the opportunity he needed to extend his early championship advantage in Bahrain It might not be quite where Nico Rosberg left off in 2015, but with two wins in two races, it’s safe to say the German will be pleased with his start to the 2016 F1 season. Conceding pole once again to teammate Lewis Hamilton, Saturday’s setback did nothing to hinder Rosberg’s Sunday performance, as the German lead into the first corner and never looked back on his way to a dominant victory. It was a comfortable drive that flew in stark contrast to that of his teammate, who was doomed from the start after a collision with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, fighting back to finish third behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. So as the F1 circus heads to China with Rosberg enjoying an early 17-point championship advantage, the German must be starting to believe that this could be his year. Read on for a break-down of the early title fight, as well as some of the other big stories from the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton his own worst enemy as Rosberg romps to victory For all the change supposedly coming to F1 in 2017, it might be easy to overlook the winds of change already blowing in 2016. A new team on the grid, new regulations for team radio, tyre choice and start procedures, and a new qualifying format to complain about (more on that later) – Nico Rosberg is hoping to add a change at the top of the driver’s standings to that list. And while it’s definitely premature to list the German as the championship favourite, you could argue this is the best championship position he’s ever found himself in. In 2014, Rosberg had an 18-point lead over Lewis Hamilton after two races, but had split the victories. This year, he’s 2-0 with a noticeable advantage in one key area – race starts. Because for as much as the story of Hamilton’s race is highlighted by his first corner incident with Valtteri Bottas and subsequent stellar recovery drive to third, there’s no mistaking that just as in Australia, this was misfortune of his own doing. He was decisively beaten into the first corner, never getting even a wheel alongside Rosberg. Forget Bottas, we’ve seen the advantage a Mercedes leading out of turn one can have over its sister car time and again, and so crash or not, Hamilton’s alarm bells should be ringing. Twice he’s had pole, and twice he’s thrown it away. Of course, there’s still a long way to go in what will be an especially long season, but don’t underestimate the importance of confidence for both drivers. Hamilton will undoubtedly see the biggest obstacle to regaining the initiative in China as himself, but at the same time, this isn’t a two-race outlier, but a five-race trend. The Rosberg who lost the championship so easily last year might as well be a different person, and the difference is clearly showing. Vandoorne delivers in Grand Prix debut It’s a rare occurrence in life when expectation is matched by reality – Stoffel Vandoorne just gave us one of those occurrences. In a debut that’s been a long time coming for the 2015 GP2 champion, the 24-year-old Belgian was right at home mixing it up with the big boys, as he scored McLaren’s first point of the season with a tenth-place finish. Starting 12th after out-qualifying teammate Jenson Button, he showed some real racecraft in moving up the field, with a lovely pair of moves on the Force Indias in the early going, before settling into a battle with the Williams’ that belied his Honda-powered car. Whether we see more of him in the coming races depends either on Fernando Alonso’s fitness and/or Ron Dennis’ ability to growl at the FIA doctors into letting him race, but if this is the only time we see him all year, it will serve as proof enough that he should’ve been doing this full-time ages ago. Vandoorne (or King Stoffrey, as I like to call him) has had to sit by and watch many of his less-accomplished peers get drives up-and-down the grid in the past few years, but he seemed almost instantly at home in the MP4-31. He clearly deserves a spot, and he looks set to get it, as Jenson Button probably makes way for him next year… well, unless Johnny Herbert actually is onto something. Qualifying drama continues – once again just not on track Oh, boy. Much like the Kardashians, skinny jeans and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, when it comes to F1’s new qualifying system, the only question left to ask is “how is this still a thing?” As if Saturday in Australia wasn’t bad enough, fans were given a second dose of the format that no one wanted in the first place. Surely, twice is enough? Well, maybe not. An emergency meeting on Sunday did nothing to resolve the issue, with the FIA and FOM remaining firmly against a return to 2015-style qualifying, with reports stating they feel it would be too confusing for the fans. Another meeting is set to go ahead on Thursday, with rumours of a proposed two-lap aggregate system being put on the table. This would seem pretty counterintuitive if the purpose of any change from the current system is to simplify things further for the fans, and watching a lap in real time would be much less exciting as sector times wouldn’t really mean much until the two laps are completed. If there’s any positive to be taken away from this whole debacle, it’s that it’s brought into the spotlight just how badly F1’s governance needs reform. Few decisions will ever be as open-and-shut as the teams’ unanimous vote to revert to the old system, and yet Bernie and co. still found a way of shooting down that proposal. For all the talk in recent years of getting fans back into the sport, it’s ironic that what has done the most to kill viewership is something solely of their own doing. Maybe there’s another format out there that is the answer, and that’s okay. By all means, try things out, but what we saw in Bahrain was not that, it was failure on purpose, and it’s unlikely there’s much more of that the sport can take. Who’s the form man between Rosberg and Hamilton? How would you rate Vandoorne’s debut? Do you trust the sport’s power-brokers to fix qualifying before China? Sound off in the comments below.