Bahrain GP Race Report - Win number 22 for Vettel as Lotus ensure Renault-powered podium at Bahrain

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 31, 2012 17:34 hrs

A controlled drive from start to finish saw defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing take the chequered flag to win the Bahrain Grand Prix. Behind him was a charging and hopeful Kimi Raikkonen making a splendid comeback to F1 for Lotus. In third position was Romain Grosjean driving the sister Lotus.

Sebastian Vettel was denied any celebrations on the radio however, when he crossed the finish line. His team engineer ordered him to park his RB8 at the pit lane exit. This race was so heavy on the engines that even Mercedes and Ferrari did not bother driving a lap of honour. Vettel's win makes it four different winners from four different teams this season!

At the start, both Ferrari drivers and Lotus drivers quickly made up valuable places. Alonso was running in fifth by lap 2 and Massa had climbed up by six places making amends for his poor qualifying. Grosjean made up three places while Kimi Raikkonen took four cars in sequence.

The big loser in the start melee was Daniel Ricciardo who fell back to P13 from P6. After a disastrous grid position thanks to a gearbox penalty, Michael Schumacher starting from P23 had to fight long and hard with Mexican Sergio Perez for P12 in the early laps.

As the troubled desert race settled into a rhythm, the Lotuses began to come together. In successive laps they flew past the McLaren of Hamilton and the Ferrari of Alonso. By this time it was clear they both had the pace to keep up with race leader Vettel.

Down the order Lewis was engaged in a solid scrap with Rosberg who drove him off onto the sandy stretches that encase the circuit. Later, Hamilton was heard questioning Rosberg's move on the radio. The stewards will make an investigation into that manoeuvre. All the top runners started on Pirelli soft option tyres and therefore, were seen pitting as early as lap 9. It was interesting to see if the lone Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi on medium tyres would go the distance with fewer stops.

By lap 15 Kimi was setting fastest laps in succession. The Ferraris were clearly the fifth fastest team in terms of outright pace behind McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Lotus.

Lap 20 and the pecking order was temporarily established with four Renault-engined cars heading the Mercedes-engined ones. Paul Di Resta put up a strong fight ahead of Jenson Button and behind Mark Webber. He pulled off a great move whilst passing Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado together. Force India by this time were looking to their Scottish driver to finish high in the points.

On lap 25 the 'bad boy' of the race, Nico Rosberg, was seen pushing Alonso's Ferrari onto the sandy run-off again like he had done to the McLaren. Again the stewards have promised to investigate. Just like in China a fast train of cars was forming behind the front runners with Rosberg heading out Alonso, Massa, Hamilton and Perez.

No clear leader or dominating team, nor car has come forward so far this season and this is providing an unpredictable racing environment in Formula 1. No one, not even Red Bull Racing saw the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen eating into the lead Sebastian Vettel had built up, and it looked like he was soon going to pass the German through the DRS zone. Before that, he jumped his teammate for P2 after a slick pitstop.

On lap 32 Alonso pulled out a master stroke to stay in front of teammate Felipe Massa. He followed Kobayashi's Sauber quarter distance into the pit entrance lane so he would be within a second of the Japanese driver to enable DRS. Once the rear wing was enabled he swung back into the racing line and maintained the gap to the chasing pack. Pure genius from the two-time champion!

Back to the duel between Kimi and the leader. Lap 36 as it turned out was the Finn's only chance to try and slingshot the Red Bull. He did just that but found Vettel weave and block off the move at Turn 1. High speed drama but it didn't last for long. Sebastian decided to put his head down and drive off into the horizon.

The Lotus pit wall was seen urging the Finn to catch the German but by lap 50 the order was Vettel from Raikkonen, Grosjean, Webber, Di Resta, Rosberg, Button, Alonso, Hamilton and Massa. Schumacher was missing from the top ten. Only Button's misfortune with a rear puncture saw the German multiple world champion make it a points finish.

Frank Williams may not have a happy 70th birthday tomorrow after all with both Maldonado and Senna retiring from the race.

But ahead at the start-finish straight after recording his last victory at the Indian Grand Prix last October, defending champion Sebastian Vettel returns to winning ways. And with it he brings the winning finger!

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