Vettel cruises to Bahrain GP triumph
Updated: Sunday, 21 Apr 2013 15:03
Sebastian Vettel enjoyed one of his more comfortable days in the sunshine as the reigning world champion cruised to the 28th win of his remarkable career.
In taking the chequered flag for the second successive time at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and in claiming his second victory this year, Red Bull star Vettel now has a 10-point lead over Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn again had to settle for the runner-up spot, as was the case last Sunday in China, but at least had team-mate Romain Grosjean for company on the podium.
Astonishingly, it was the same one-two-three at the desert-based Bahrain International Circuit as it was in 2012.
Adopting a two-stop strategy, like Raikkonen who has extended his run of results in the points to 21 races, Force India's Paul Di Resta almost made it work as he conjured one of his finest drives.
But in being passed by Grosjean five laps from home in the 57-lap race, it denied the Scot the first podium of his 43-race career, but at least in finishing fourth he equalled his best result.
With people tipping Fernando Alonso as the man to beat this season following his victory last Sunday in China, the double champion suggested the campaign could be a rollercoaster one if the opening four races are anything to go by.
Second in the season-opener in Australia, Alonso crashed out early in Malaysia a week later when he ran over his front wing that had worked loose following a lap-one tussle with Vettel.
The Spaniard's 31st-career triumph followed seven days ago, and after lining up third on the grid here the belief was he could double up.
After seven laps, however, he was the first of the leaders to pit, not only switching from the medium-compound tyres to the hard, but primarily due to a problem with his DRS.
One lap later, and with Red Bull's Mark Webber and Grosjean pitting as the first round of stops began in earnest, Alonso was in again as his DRS was lodged in the open position.
It took three mechanics to push down and snap it shut again, but with that went any hope of win number 32, the 31-year-old ultimately just scraping into the points with eighth place.
It meant, once Vettel passed Mercedes' Nico Rosberg on lap three as the German had done all he could in holding onto his advantage from the start, there was only going to be one winner barring trouble.
Vettel pitted for the first time on lap 10, allowing Di Resta to lead for four laps, and then once the Scot took on fresh rubber of his own it was plain sailing all the way for the all-conquering German.
It came to a point that after 25 laps, and with a 22-second cushion to Grosjean, Vettel was able to pit from the lead and still retain first place ahead of the Frenchman and Di Resta behind him.
It was the same again after 42 laps, the cushion at that stage 26 seconds such was his dominance, and again with en error-free stop it ensured he could coast to the line.
As for Raikkonen, running a two-stop strategy in contrast to that of team-mate Grosjean, he made that work superbly, keeping him in touch with Vettel after four races as we head to Europe.
Behind the leading quartet there was a titanic struggle for fifth as Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Webber went toe-to-toe for a handful of laps.
The Briton ultimately held sway into turn one on the final lap where McLaren's Sergio Perez also claimed the Australian to take sixth for his best result for McLaren.
The Mexican had a few laps earlier toughed it out with Alonso, and earlier in the race with team-mate Jenson Button having listened to the words of team principal Martin Whitmarsh last week who told him to get his elbows out.