Sebastian Vettel claimed an emphatic win at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has claimed an assured victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, emerging clear in an early race battle with Fernando Alonso and polesitter Nico Rosberg before cruising to win the 57-lap race.

The German finished over nine seconds clear of Lotus duo Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean, who completed the same podium line-up as the year before. Alonso and Rosberg, meanwhile, both had disastrous races.

Polesitter Rosberg converted pole into the lead on the opening lap, but it was soon immediately apparent that he was set for a torrid afternoon.

Fellow front-row starter Vettel made an excellent getaway from the dirty side of the grid, but found himself boxed in behind Rosberg on the dash to Turn 1 and slipped behind Alonso. Undaunted, the Red Bull driver quickly swept by the Spaniard with a brave move at Turn 4, before charging past Rosberg on Lap 4.

After forcing his way past Alonso, Vettel soon overtook the struggling Rosberg for the lead.
After forcing his way past Alonso, Vettel soon overtook the struggling Rosberg for the lead.

He quickly began to pull clear of the chasing pack, while Rosberg’s tyres rapidly began to fade. Despite some aggressive defence, second place was soon lost to Alonso.

Alonso had a disastrous race, his DRS jamming openBut the Spaniard faced his own dramas. On Lap 7, his DRS jammed open, and he was forced to make an early pit stop to have it fixed.

Barely a lap later and the problem repeated itself, and so he was back in again, putting him almost at the tail of the field and with a massive task of trying to salvage some points without the use of the overtaking aid.

That he was able to climb into eighth place and claim four precious points was a huge achievement, and it spoke volumes about his ‘never say die’ attitude, although he was nonetheless frustrated that a possible win went begging.

It was a trying day for teammate Felipe Massa as well, who incredibly suffered two debris-induced rear punctures during the race. He finished fifteenth, almost a lap adrift.

Tyre wear was again one of the major talking points of the race. Despite seeming to have gotten on top of their tyre wear woes and with all signs indicating that the car’s long-run pace was good, Mercedes’ bogey issue returned in dramatic fashion on Sunday.

Rosberg was the principal victim, tumbling down the order to finish ninth after chewing his tyres through a four-stop race. It must have been gutting to see such a reversal in form after qualifying on pole.

Webber celebrated 200 Grands Prix with a cake, but that was as far as his celebrations went in the raceTeammate Lewis Hamilton had a very quiet race for the most part, and one that differed from his usual race-long charges that we have grown accustomed to. The former McLaren driver opted to play the long game, managing fuel loads and tyre wear until his final stint, at which point he turned up the wick and started to charge. In the closing laps, he enjoyed a great battle with Mark Webber for fifth, with the pair racing wheel-to-wheel and the Briton ultimately coming out on top.

Paul di Resta delivered the best drive of his career to net fourth placeOn the flip side, two drivers – Räikkönen and Force India’s Paul di Resta – opted for two-stop strategies. Both showed hugely impressive pace over their long stints, with the pair looking set to complete the podium until di Resta was overhauled by the fresher-shod Grosjean in the final laps. Nonetheless, it was easily the best drive in the Scot’s career, and put paid to many critics – us included! – who had doubted his ability to race wheel-to-wheel with the frontrunners.

Fourth place was a sensational result for he and the team, although tempered with another troubled race for Adrian Sutil, who sustained opening lap damage after a tangle with Massa. Despite running at the pace of the race leaders after his repairs, he could not scramble into the points.

Button and Perez went toe-to-toe in the race, with Perez coming off bestSergio Pérez also managed to overtake Mark Webber on the final lap, with the Mexican’s sixth place finally delivering a healthy points haul and some measured aggression on the race track.

The Mexican showed no quarter, especially not to teammate  Jenson Button, with whom he engaged in a fierce battle that had the Englishman enraged.

The tactic worked, as Button spent too much time watching his mirrors and chewed through his tyres. Forced to make a fourth pit stop in contrast to Pérez’s three, Button claimed the final point in tenth place.

Williams’ point-less season continued, with neither Pastor Maldonado or Valtteri Bottas showing the sort of pace necessary for the Grove team to realistically be within a sniff of a top-ten result. The pair finished eleventh and fourteenth respectively, although Maldonado’s finishing position was flattered by the dramas that befell Sutil and Massa, in particular.

It was also another troublesome day for Sauber, with its radical C32 failing to threaten the points as Nico Hülkenberg uncharacteristically struggled with tyre wear issues of his own en route to twelfth place.

Gutierrez lost his front wing, but that is no longer news...The less said about Esteban Gutiérrez, the better. The Mexican again had an appalling weekend.

With a five-place grid penalty in his pocket from the Chinese Grand Prix, he again failed to break out of Q1 and then compounded his misery with a positively amateurish lunge on the opening lap that ensured an early pit visit for another front wing.

Racecraft and pace are sorely lacking in this youngster, and the team must surely be considering the wisdom of his appointment…

Toro Rosso also failed to finish in the points, with Jean-Éric Vergne retiring after an early collision with Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham, while Daniel Ricciardo suffered a mysterious lack of pace en route to finishing sixteenth, which will have the Faenza team urgently investigating the cause before the next Grand Prix in Spain.

Charles Pic took his heavily-updated Caterham on its most impressive drive of the season to finish clearly in front of the backmarker scrap in seventeenth place, even managing to finish ahead of Gutiérrez as he crossed the line in seventeenth place.

The Frenchman beat home the Marussia duo of Jules Bianchi and birthday boy Max Chilton, while van der Garde was the last of the finishers, two laps adrift, after losing his front wing against Vergne’s sideways Toro Rosso.

Red Bull Racing sent its head of electronics, Jill Jones, onto the podiumBut it was all celebration at the front of the field, with Red Bull Racing electing to send Jill Jones – its head of trackside electronics – as its representative on the podium.

This marked the first time since 1986 that a woman has been given the honours of the collecting the Constructors’ trophy for the racewinning team. And at Bahrain of all places…

Vettel’s 28th career win moved him to sixth on the all-time winners list ahead of fellow three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart and eases his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings to a ten-point margin over the consistent Räikkönen, while Hamilton lies a further 17 points adrift in third.

2013 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (57 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 57 1:36:00.498
2. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 57 + 9.111
3. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 57 + 19.507
4. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 57 + 21.727
5. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 57 + 35.230
6. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 57 + 35.998
7. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 57 + 37.244
8. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 57 + 37.574
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 57 + 41.126
10. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 57 + 46.631
11. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 57 + 1:06.450
12. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 57 + 1:12.933
13. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 57 + 1:16.719
14. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 57 + 1:21.511
15. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 57 + 1:26.364
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 56 1 lap behind
17. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 56 1 lap behind
18. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 56 1 lap behind
19. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 56 1 lap behind
20. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 56 1 lap behind
21. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 55 2 laps behind
Not Classified   Laps Result
DNF. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 18 Damage

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.