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.
As Nico Rosberg predicted after Qualifying yesterday, Mercedes did have some pace but they were too hard on their tyres and Rosberg made four pit-stops, so bad was his tyre wear. Hamilton had a wretched opening stint but the medium tyre worked well for him in the closing stages and he made up some good places to finish 5th, having passed Webber on the final lap. McLaren too had a troublesome day with tyres as Jenson Button too had to stop four times to arrest the slide down the order but could only finish tenth. Sergio Perez had a far better race and his best so far with his new team as a determined drive saw him challenge his senior teammate Button a few times as well as pass Alonso on the last lap to wrest sixth place.
Lotus saw both their drivers on the podium and Kimi Raikkonen continued his consistency in the points with a two-stop strategy enabling him finish second with team mate Grosjean profiting from a late tyre stop to fit new rubber and climb up the order, demoting two-stopping Paul di Resta to fourth towards the closing stages of the race.
Vettel increases his lead in the drivers’ standings to ten points over Raikkonen. Hamilton moves into third place with Alonso fourth, now a good 30 points off Vettel. F1 now moves to Europe with the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks time, with all teams expected to bring in a raft of new updates. Roll on Europe…