Vettel fends off Raikkonen for Bahrain GP win

Vettel creates a lead at the start

Vettel creates a lead at the start

Sebastian Vettel has taken his first win of the year at the Bahrain Grand Prix. He held off the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen during the middle stint, and then created a gap to cruise to victory. Romain Grosjean drove an excellent race to take his first podium of his F1 career. The McLarens had a horrific race, with Lewis Hamilton suffering multiple pit problems, and Jenson Button multiple car problems. Here is what happened:

At the start, Vettel held his lead, while Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso leaped up the grid. Daniel Ricciardo swiftly slipped down the field to 17th, after starting from 6th.

Jenson Button lost out, falling to 6th, while Felipe Massa pulled himself up to 9th. Heikki Kovalainen suffered a puncture on the first lap, falling to the back of the field.

Massa continued his good start, shoving his way past Kimi Raikkonen at turns 1 and 2. However, the Lotus driver was having none of it, retrieving his position on lap 5.

Grosjean impressively moved up to 3rd, and in the early stages closed the gap to Hamilton in 2nd. A DRS-assisted move put him past the McLaren. Meanwhile the other Lotus sailed past Jenson Button for 6th.

Button, Massa and Rosberg all stopped suddenly on lap 9, all taking on the medium tyre. It soon turned out to be the correct move, as their teammates all stopped the next lap. However, Hamilton’s pit stop turned out to be a disaster, losing him over 5 seconds.

Rosberg pushes Hamilton off the limits of the track

Rosberg pushes Hamilton off the limits of the track

Lewis emerged alongside Nico Rosberg, and pushed the track well beyond its extremes, running onto the concrete to keep the position. However, the stewards took a dim view of the clever move, and put the two drivers under investigation.

Button soon forced his way past Alonso for 7th. Paul di Resta inherited the lead while Vettel pitted, but was soon passed by the Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen continued his ascent, scything past Webber for 5th.

Approaching the next pit stop phase, Raikkonen also moved past teammate Grosjean for 2nd. Another disastrous pitstop awaited Hamilton on lap 24 however, a faulty wheel nut delaying him by another 10 seconds.

Another pit stop problem for Hamilton

Another pit stop problem for Hamilton

After the pit stops, Fernando Alonso began to fight Nico Rosberg for 8th. The Mercedes driver attempted a similar move he put on Hamilton, pushing the Ferrari clean onto the conrecte, forcing Fernando to surrender the position. However, the stewards also disapproved of this move, and similarly put them under investigation after the race.

A spin by Pastor Maldonado at turn 2 dealt fatal damage to the Williams, forcing him to retire.

Paul di Resta, who took a different strategy to the rest of the field, was running 4th on lap 29, after only stopping once. However, he was soon caught and passed by Mark Webber, who had stopped twice.

On lap 35, the battle for the lead became clear. Raikkonen had cleared all the cars in his way, and was all over the back of Vettel’s Red Bull. They tussled for several laps, allowing teammate Grosjean to move closer to the duo. As the race entered the final 20 laps, strategy became crucial as to who would win the race.

Both Vettel and Raikkonen pitted on lap 40, with Sebastian gaining a slight advantage over the stop. Over the next 15 laps, it became a battle of tyre conservation as Vettel did his best to hold off the Lotus, while keeping his tyres under control.

Vettel returns to the top step of the podium

Vettel returns to the top step of the podium

Nico Rosberg found himself stuck behind Paul di Resta, finding that DRS was insufficient to pass the Force India. With 4 laps to go, he finally made the move, and leaped into 5th place.

Jenson Button closed in on Di Resta, but a surprise puncture threw the McLaren out of the top 10 with only 3 laps to go. His bad luck didn’t end there though, as a cracked exhaust and several other problems forced Jenson to retire.

Raikkonen’s charge was quelled, as he lacked the pace to catch the Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel crossed the line first, to take his first win of 2012, and the lead of the drivers championship. Oddly, he was instructed to pull over after the chequered flag, and the same instruction was given to Nico Rosberg.

Paul di Resta held off Fernando Alonso crossing the line to equal his best Grand Prix result of 6th place.


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