The 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix ended with the same top three finishers as last year as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took the race victory with the two Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finishing second and third.
Force India’s Paul di Resta equalled his best ever finish with fourth position ahead of the charging Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in fifth. McLaren’s Sergio Perez finished sixth with Mark Webber seventh, Fernando Alonso eighth, pole sitter Nico Rosberg could only finish ninth and Jenson Button took the last point in tenth place.
Vettel made the win in the first few laps of the race as he embattled Rosberg & Alonso in some scintillating passing and re-passing manoeuvres to emerge in the lead after four laps and eked out a sizeable lead to remain untouched by DRS. Fernando Alonso could have had the race pace to challenge Vettel but it was scuppered by a malfunctioning DRS flap that remained stuck open and he had to pit twice in the opening stages to fix it. The fix meant Alonso had to run the remainder of the race without DRS, effectively ruining his podium aspirations. Ferrari had a doubly misfortunate day as Felipe Massa suffered two inexplicable right-rear punctures and multiple excursions into the pits meant he could only manage a lowly 15th place finish.
Valencia has a history of producing boring processional races but that was not to be this year as an exhilarating grand prix saw Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso script a stunning victory from eleventh on the grid. He drove a stupendous race, passed those ahead of him like a champion and had lady luck smile upon him a tad, to become the first driver this season to win two races. Race leader Sebastian Vettel suffered an engine failure which ended his race just as Alonso had passed into second place after a race restart following a safety car period.
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen finished in second place having bided his time in the closing laps before passing Lewis Hamilton into second place. Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher finished a surprised third, after he pitted for a fresh set of tyres and scythed through the field towards the latter part of the race.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished fourth having duplicated Schumacher’s tyre change and following him as they hunted down other drivers in pairs. Fifth place went to the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Nico Rosberg in sixth and Paul Di Resta in seventh. Jenson Button finished eighth ahead of the Sauber of Sergio Perez in ninth and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado in tenth.
Apart from Alonso’s magnificent victory, the three other highlights of the race were the retirement of pole sitter and early leader Sebastian Vettel, ditto for Renault’s Romain Grosjean and a dodo move by Pastor Maldonado on Lewis Hamilton which wrecked the McLaren’s suspension as he banged into the wall whilst in third place.
The incidents were precipitated by a rookie mistake from Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne, who banged into the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen as he was passing him – puncturing the rear-right tyre of the Toro Rosso and the front-left of the Caterham. Vergne drove back to the pits shredding bits and pieces of debris all along the track, which brought out the safety car.
As was widely speculated in the media as well as in my previous post, ex-Renault F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen has been snapped up by McLaren-Mercedes to partner Lewis Hamilton for the 2008 season. So McLaren will have both one-year-old rookies in its team next year but given the pace of the car and the talent of both these drivers, they still can be a formidable threat. Kimi and Alonso may have the numero uno status in their team, but its not the case with McLaren and that can be a big advantage for Kovalainen – who showed us that he’s got the pace and the nerve for F1 – but it remains to be seen how his err…umm….partnership with Lewis pans out. Given McLaren’s undue fondness for the Briton.
P.S: Whats with Finnish drivers and McLaren? Keke, Mika, Kimi and now Heikki!
Reports: Formula1.com | BBC Sport | Grandprix.com