Vettel avoids drama to triumph at Sakhir
21 April 2013 – Sebastian Vettel claimed an emphatic victory in Sunday afternoon’s Bahrain Grand Prix, coming out on top in an early battle with Fernando Alonso and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg before pulling clear of his rivals. The German, who strengthens his lead in the championship standings, finished comfortably clear of Lotus duo Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean to form a podium identical to 12 months ago.
As the lights went out, Rosberg made a strong start from the front of the grid and held on to his lead at the first corner, while a boxed-in Vettel slipped behind Alonso. A thrilling fight ensued, with Vettel overtaking the Ferrari driver around the outside of Turn 4 on the second tour, before finding a way past Rosberg just two laps later.
Vettel settled into a rhythm and pulled clear at the head of the field, while Alonso disposed of Rosberg for second. But drama followed for the Spaniard on the sixth lap, when his DRS stuck open along the back straight and forced a premature pit-stop. The problem reoccurred soon after and another visit to his mechanics was required, leaving the Spaniard at the back of the order and with a massive task ahead.
As the race wore on, Vettel's lead was never in doubt and he cruised to victory ahead of Räikkönen, who was one of only two drivers to pull off a two-stop strategy. Di Resta was the other man to opt for fewer pit lane visits, narrowly missing out on a podium finish when Grosjean surged through the field on fresher rubber in the late stages.
Fifth place went to Lewis Hamilton after a relentless battle with Mark Webber, the latter ultimately slipping behind Sergio Pérez in the final sequence of corners. Alonso, racing without the use of DRS for over three quarters of the race, pulled off one of his finest drives to claim what could turn out to be vital points in eighth, while Rosberg was forced to make four stops amid high degradation and slipped back to ninth.
Jenson Button was another man to change his tyres on four occasions, struggling for grip after intense battles with McLaren team-mate Pérez. The 2009 World Champion, who shouted over his team radio that the Mexican needed to "calm down", could only claim the final point. Adrian Sutil and Felipe Massa should have been in this group, but the pair collided on the opening lap. The Force India driver picked up a puncture and was forced to pit, while the Brazilian raced on with a damaged front wing before his troublesome afternoon was compounded by a right-rear tyre delamination.
At the back of the field, Charles Pic continued Caterham's resurgence in 17th place, edging out Sauber rookie Esteban Gutiérrez who lost his front wing on the first lap. Marussia duo Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were next up, while Giedo van der Garde completed the finishers. Jean-Éric Vergne was the only retiree due to car damage.
Vettel's 28th Grand Prix victory, which moves him ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart in the all-time list, sees him approach the Spanish Grand Prix with a ten point lead over Lotus rival Räikkönen, while Lewis Hamilton sits a further 17 points adrift in third.
The fifth round of the 2013 season takes place in Spain from 10-12 May, with practice, qualifying and the race covered via the GPUpdate.net Live Report