Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel appeared to be back on form as he crossed the finish line to take victory in the FIA Formula One 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.
The reigning World Champion may have missed out on the pole position spot yesterday, but managed to redeem himself when it mattered most on race day and snatched the lead from Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg on lap two which he went on to maintain until the end.
“It was good fun at the beginning with some very tight wheel to wheel racing," said Vettel.
The race winner added, "I love to be in clean air, so I was pushing hard to get into the lead and, with the speed we had mid-race, it was quite comfortable today. Well done to the whole team, to everyone here, to the factory in the background and especially to those who were working on the strategy today; it worked just as we expected, so we obviously got the numbers right.”
Vettel is known for being a fan of statistics and as a result of winning today’s race, the German has achieved his 28th career victory and 36th one for the team as a whole.
Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen was too far behind to catch Vettel for the race win, but he picked up an impressive second place finish for himself in any case. The Finn admitted, “You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get."
"I drove to the maximum and the car had the pace that we missed in qualifying yesterday so it was a pretty good result. We didn’t have the speed to challenge Sebastian [Vettel] today but we did have the pace to get both cars on the podium so I’m happy for the team," added Raikkonen.
Raikkonen’s team mate, Romain Grosjean completed the trio of drivers on the podium after he passed the chequered flag at the end of the race. “It’s great to be back on the podium and it’s a fantastic result for the team. It hasn’t been an easy start to the season for me, but we made good progress through the weekend and are now back to where we should be," Grosjean said.
The French man pinched third place from Force India’s Paul Di Resta in the latter stages of the 57 lap marathon. Grosjean’s last minute position change means that it is the same top three line up that occurred after last year’s Grand Prix at the Sakhir Circuit.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations commented: "A great result for all at Renault Sport F1, with a clean sweep of the podium for the second consecutive year in Bahrain. It’s also the first time in a year that an engine manufacturer has done this so we can be really proud of the result."
Di Resta was very pleased with his fourth place finish as he said, “It’s great to round off the fly-away races with a fourth place and a race that was probably my strongest Grand Prix. A big thanks to the whole team because it’s been an excellent weekend and I feel we managed to get 100% out of the car.”
Rosberg’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton had some misfortune after qualifying yesterday when his penalty for a gearbox change was applied and began the race from ninth place. The Englishman climbed his way back up the field though and he finished in fifth place.
Said Hamilton "I'm really happy with our result today. It's been a tough weekend for us but we got through it and finishing in fifth place was some good damage limitation."
However for Rosberg having an extra pit stop saw his hopes fade. "A tough day for me. As nice as it was to start from pole this afternoon, it was just as hard to finish in ninth place," he said.
McLaren’s Sergio Perez showed a more competitive side today than in the first three races of the season with his new team. The Mexican driver not only battled with many of the midfield runners but also gave his own team mate, Jenson Button a run for his money mid-way through the Grand Prix.
The pair had an exciting in-team scrap for position on lap 30 which saw Perez get a little too close for comfort to the back of Button’s car. Perez ended up losing part of his front wing but both drivers carried on racing until the end. Perez had the upper hand over Button though as he finished the race in sixth place and Button had to settle for the 10th and final point scoring position where he started off.
Button was pipped to a ninth place finish by pole sitter, Rosberg who appeared to struggle for grip with his tyres during the race, which saw him swiftly lose his lead at the front and drop down the field.
Vettel’s team mate, Webber appeared to still be suffering a run of bad luck as he progressed through another up and down race this season. The Australian had contact with Rosberg during the race and the incident caught the attention of the stewards. It was reported on lap 44 that it would be investigated afterwards for the reason of causing a collision. It is still to be confirmed as to what the stewards will decide regarding this.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso did not have the best start to his race when he encountered problems with his rear wing, which would not close after he tried to operate his DRS in the first few laps. The Spaniard was forced to make two unexpected pit stops for the team to resolve the issue, but he swiftly dropped down the field and had to work hard to get back up again with the rear wing still not functioning properly. The former double World Champion still picked up some points though after securing an eighth place finish for himself.
Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa also had a miserable start to his Grand Prix when he had contact with Force India’s Adrian Sutil on the first lap. Massa ended up with a damaged front wing and the pair carried still on in the race. Massa then had further problems on lap 37 with a right rear tyre puncture, which led him into the pits to repair the damage before he could get out again. Massa and Sutil both finished out of the top 10 and accompanied the rest of the drivers in the same situation.
The stewards not only had the incident between Webber and Rosberg to investigate after the race, but also Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde for an unsafe release from his pit box on lap 52. It is still to be confirmed as to whether or not the stewards will take any further action with this.
The only retirement from the race of the 22 drivers was for Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne. The French man had contact with van der Garde’s team mate, Charles Pic before the race had barely begun, which left Vergne with a right rear tyre puncture and further damage saw him being lifted into the garage in his car on lap 18 and out of the race.
Vettel may have been knocked off his perch after Alonso took last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix victory, but Vettel has shown today that he is currently the driver that still reigns in Bahrain. Despite the top three line up remaining unchanged from last year’s race, there were many battles for position between the midfield runners, which led to some nail biting overtakes mid-way through and as the action came to a close caused a shakeup in the final results.
Vettel has resumed his position in the lead going into the short break until the Formula One fraternity face their next challenge in the form of the Spanish Grand Prix. As the results so far this season have proved, Vettel has not always been pole sitter or even race winner. He has the upper hand as they head to the Circuit de Catalunya on 12th May, but it is certain that his closest Championship rivals will not let him run away with the Drivers’ Championship lead too easily without having to fight for it first.