Formula One News » F1 2013: Vettel dominates in Bahrain and claims second win of season Posted on 21/04/2013
Vettel, who lined-up second on the grid, made a strong start but was unable to pass pole man, Nico Rosberg, who cut straight across him on the run down to the first corner. That gave Fernando Alonso the chance to move up to second, but Vettel soon re-took the position and then set about going back at Rosberg.
Although he got by on lap 2, he was unable to keep the place, but two laps later he surged ahead at Turn 4 and promptly started to pull away.
The Red Bull man then made his first of three-stops on lap 11, and while that briefly dropped him behind the two-stopping cars of Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen, he re-took P1 on lap 15 and after that was never headed again. Vettel eventually crossed the line to take his second win of the season by 9.1 seconds, a result that increase his lead in the Drivers’ Championship from 3 points to 10.
“It was a fantastic race for me – a big, big thank you to the team. It was just flawless, a seamless race from start to finish,” Vettel said. “I knew it was crucial straight away after the start to get into the lead if I could and then go from there and look after the tyres. The pace was phenomenal.
“The car was very quick and it just started to get better and better towards the end – really a beautiful race, where you could push every single lap. We took care of the tyres, so overall I am very happy.”
Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile used a two-stop strategy to haul himself up from eighth – where he started – to second at the finish. The Finn admitted though, that he just didn’t have the speed to challenge Vettel.
“You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get,” said Kimi. “I drove to the maximum and the car had the pace that we missed in qualifying yesterday so it was a pretty good result. We didn’t have the speed to challenge Sebastian today but we did have the pace to get on the podium.”
Romain Grosjean took the final place on the rostrum in the other Lotus and after a trying start to 2013, was delighted to get a ‘strong’ result on the board.
“It’s great to be back on the podium,” he admitted, “and it’s a fantastic result for the team. It hasn’t been an easy start to the season for me, but we made good progress through the weekend and are now back to where we should be. I felt much more comfortable in the car and the result today is a deserved reward for everyone after all our hard work.
“It was a really enjoyable race with a lot of overtaking and a couple of tense moments along the way, so to come from P11 through to the podium is really satisfying. We’ve had consistency already, finishing every race in the points, but now it’s the big results we’re chasing and this is a very good start to that challenge.”
Behind, Force India’s Paul di Resta had to settle for fourth, losing out to Grosjean with just 5 laps to go. The Scot, however, wasn’t too disappointed.
“The podium was very close, but with our strategy we were always going to be vulnerable at the end of the race – especially to Grosjean who had two new sets of medium tyres,” he conceded. “Ultimately fourth place was the maximum that was possible.
“We will get on the podium one day, hopefully soon, but for now we can be very happy with the points we’ve scored today and a race that was probably my strongest Grand Prix.”
Fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton was next up for Mercedes and despite struggling in his first two stints, came back and enjoyed a good late battle with Mark Webber. Webber slipped to seventh on the final lap, as he was passed not only by Hamilton, but also McLaren’s Sergio Perez.
Perez had a strong afternoon and his dice with team-mate Jenson Button was particularly entertaining – although the Mexican later admitted that he had probably been a bit too aggressive at times.
“Banging wheels with Jenson was perhaps a little too risky, a little too hard, but the team never came on the radio to tell us to stop racing. There were no team orders,” Perez said. “There was a lot of adrenaline from both of us, and Jenson is always a very strong racer, but hopefully we’ll help each other a little more in the future. He was calm and friendly after the race, though, which was great; but that isn’t surprising because he’s a great guy as well as a great driver.”
Further back, Alonso claimed eighth, despite issues with the DRS device on his Ferrari, which meant he had to make two extra stops when it got stuck open, and which ultimately meant he had to race for much of the afternoon without the overtaking aid.
Behind, pole man, Nico Rosberg could do no better than ninth, while Button eventually took tenth and the final point – both having to make a fourth stop late on due to high tyre wear.
“A tough day for me,” said Rosberg. “As nice as it was to start from pole this afternoon, it was just as hard to finish in ninth place. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car today and it wasn’t much fun out there really. We switched to a four-stop strategy at the end of my third stint but it wasn’t enough. We were using the rear tyres too much and at the end, I was really struggling and wasn’t able to push hard enough.
“There is a lot of work ahead and we need to focus on why our race performance isn’t matching the pace that we can show in qualifying. Hopefully we can make some steps here before the European season starts.”
Of the rest, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado just missed out points in P11, with Nico Hulkenberg 12th, followed by Adrian Sutil, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo. Sutil lost out at the start after he picked up a puncture following contact with Massa. That incident also compromised Massa’s afternoon, as he was left to race with a damaged front wing. To confound the Brazilian’s misery, he also suffered two tyre failures.
Charles Pic took the ‘third division’ honours and 17th place for Caterham, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, and then the Marussia’s of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton and his team-mate Giedo van der Garde in positions 18 through to 21.
There was only one retirement, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who had to park his car after 16 laps following the damage sustained at the start, when he was pushed into the path of van der Garde by Bottas.
The 2013 F1 season now continues in three weeks time, when the circus returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.