Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1:32.422 = 210.806 km/h
1st: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1hr 35min 10.990sec
2nd: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), 3.333 secs down
3rd: Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault), 10.194 secs down
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1:36.379 = 202.151 km/h on lap 41
“We are back”: the Bahrain Grand Prix in 10 quick bytes
1. Another all-action race, preceded and surrounded by civil unrest, high security and heated controversy, gave us our fourth different winner in as many events this year. But it was normal service resumed: that winner was the man who has won more than any other in the last two years, Sebastian Vettel.
2. In a lights-to-flag show of supremacy from pole position (his 31st) for a revived Red Bull team, the World Champion took his first win since the 2011 Indian Grand Prix and the 22nd of his career. “I really have to thank the team, the boys have not had much sleep this year because we have had to work so hard so I am very, very happy for them,” said Vettel. “We are back again, but it is so tight this year. And I think it is going to be like this all the way.”
3. In our preview we highlighted Renault’s need to claim a race win. After Mercedes dominated Shanghai, Renault ruled in Bahrain: Kimi Raikkonen finished a strong second for Lotus (previously known as and owned by Renault) ahead of his team-mate Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Australian Mark Webber’s Red Bull made it four Renault-engined cars in a row.
4. Red Bull rocketed back to the top of the constructors’ standings with 101 points to McLaren’s 92. Lotus swept past Ferrari into third place on 57, with Marussia, Caterham and HRT still the only teams yet to score a point. Vettel is back at the top of the drivers’ table on 53 from Hamilton on 49 and Webber on 48, with Button and Alonso on 43 apiece and Rosberg sixth on 35.
5. For Raikkonen, champion in 2007 with Ferrari, back this year after two years away rallying, it was a remarkable fifth podium finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but without a win. Making calculated best use of his tyres, with four sets saved for the race, he had a chance to win, but was unable to pass Vettel at the vital moment. “I am disappointed,” he said. “I could have won.”
6. Grosjean, who ran second in the early stages behind Vettel before Raikkonen found a way to pass him (the team issued no orders), was understandably delighted to be the first French driver on a Grand Prix podium since Jean Alesi at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix with Sauber. “I am happy, but I am surprised even though I knew we had a good car,” he said.
7. It was a disastrous Sunday for McLaren Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton, like team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button, suffered from a lack of competitive pace and, like Button the previous week, endured two botched pit-stops when his left rear wheel was reluctant to comply with the pit-crew’s wishes. “I don’t know why!” he said. “We need to understand our problems and sort it out.” Button picked up a puncture and retired two laps later.
8. “I was a bit surprised by the pace of some other cars today,” confessed Webber after his 10th consecutive top-four result. “The Lotuses were surprisingly quick, although we’ve known all season that they have a tidy little car. And look at the pace of McLaren and Mercedes. The cars are really sensitive and I can see it continuing like this for the rest of the year.”
9. Sixth place went to the highly-rated young Scot Paul di Resta for Force India. The team missed FP2 on Friday after four mechanics were shaken by their proximity to a clash between demonstrators and police on Thursday. "We will go away from what was a difficult Bahrain very happy," said Di Resta. "It was an amazing job by the whole team - strategy, pit stops and the combination."
10. Dan Ricciardo grabbed his best grid slot of sixth in his Toro Rosso, but had a dreadful start and fell to 17th before scrapping back to finish 15th. In the other direction went Michael Schumacher: the seven-times champion started 22nd in his Mercedes and came home 10th behind his old friend and former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, who scored his first points this year for the Scuderia.