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Vettel Dominates In Bahrain As Lotus pair Charge Through The Pack
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Posted By:   |  21 Apr 2013   |  4:11 pm GMT  |  436 comments

Sebastian Vettel pulled off two key overtakes and managed his tyres to perfection to get early control of the Bahrain Grand Prix and take an easy victory, ahead of impressive drives through the field from Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

It was the same podium as last year’s race, with Vettel again starting on the front row and the Lotus cars being forced to come through the field.

After losing his second place to Fernando Alonso at the start of the race, the World Championship leader scythed past the Ferrari in the midfield esses section and promptly set about taking the race lead from pole sitter, Nico Rosberg.

He was able to make the decisive move on the third lap and from that point was peerless, producing an excellent second stint to put himself out of reach of the competition. The 28th Grand Prix win of his career went largely neglected as a number of battles behind made for an exhilarating race.

The first talking point, and heavily significant in the Championship, came when Alonso over took Rosberg for second and suffered a stuck rear-wing upper plane as his DRS failed to return to its starting point. This necessitated an early stop for the Ferrari and after the same failure occurred the following lap a further pit stop put a halt to his hopes of the race victory. He eventually ended the race in 8th position and is now thirty points off the Championship lead.

At the heart of the battles was a race long scrap between the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, who spent much of the race in a fight with Rosberg. As has been the case during this early part of the season McLaren had a much better race pace than what they have shown on a Saturday and were able to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes throughout the race.


Button complained to his engineer at two points, insisting that Perez was driving too aggressively and should be ‘calmed down’. However that didn’t deter the Mexican on a day when he had the edge over Button, and he had his best race with McLaren thus far in sixth place, whilst Button could only manage tenth. Afterwards he criticised his team mate for being too aggressive and said, “That’s not the way I want to go racing.”

Perez said that it was too aggressive, but that Button had been just as guilty as he. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that he felt the collision between them where Perez’ front wing tagged Button’s rear tyre was the only move he had been unhappy with.

Rosberg, meanwhile, could not replicate Hamilton’s podium from pole position last week and came under pressure for much of the race. He seemed to struggle massively with tyre degradation and was forced in to a fourth pit stop late in the race, putting him down to ninth.

As had been predicted before the race Raikkonen set out to complete the Grand Prix with only two stops. And due to his excellent ability to save his tyres he was able to jump from his eighth place starting position to secure a good haul of points for the Lotus team. The result sees him remain in second position in the Championship, now ten points off Vettel.

Lotus had also attempted to put Grosjean on a two-stop strategy, but the Frenchman made an extra stop and used his superior grip in the final laps to take the final podium spot from the two-stopping Paul Di Resta. Coincidentally the podium is a repeat of 2012.

Di Resta produced an excellent drive, particularly in his first stint to pass Rosberg and pile pressure on Alonso. It will be a shot in the arm for Force India who have had some difficulties in the first part of the season, however the second car of Adrian Sutil collided with Felipe Massa on the first lap and could not recover to score any points.

Massa had been picked amongst potential race winners after starting from fourth place in the hard tyre, but the collision with Sutil and two punctures made it a weekend to forget for Ferrari.

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX, 57 Laps
1. Vettel Red Bull 57 laps
2. Raikkonen Lotus + 9.1s
3. Grosjean Lotus + 19.5s
4. Di Resta Force India + 21.7s
5. Hamilton Mercedes + 35.2s
6. Perez McLaren + 35.9s
7. Webber Red Bull + 37.2s
8. Alonso Ferrari + 37.5s
9. Rosberg Mercedes + 41.1s
10. Button McLaren + 46.6s
11. Maldonado Williams + 1m06.4s
12. Hulkenberg Sauber + 1m12.9s
13. Sutil Force India + 1m16.7s
14. Bottas Williams + 1m21.5s
15. Massa Ferrari + 1m26.3s
16. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 1 lap
17. Pic Caterham + 1 lap
18. Gutierrez Sauber + 1 lap
19. Bianchi Marussia + 1 lap
20. Chilton Marussia + 1 lap
21. van der Garde Caterham + 2 laps

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1

Your current article offers established useful to us.

It’s extremely informative and you are clearly very experienced in this field.

You have got popped my own eyes in order to varying views on this subject matter together

with intriquing, notable and strong content.

2

Kimi said in a recent interview that the situation might have been the same years back, regarding the tyres. More pitstops in the old days meant that the tyres had less load. He reckons tyres might have had the same behaviour if there were no pitstops then.

3

James,

This question is a bit out of the topic.

RedBull Racing has been alloted the first garage in the pitlane. This allows their drivers to take an easier route when coming for changing tyres. For other teams, the drivers have to negotiate the adjacent teams pit machinery while making a pit stop. For Red Bull this problem is not there. This makes Red bull gain at least a few tenths in every pitstop.

Please observe this during the next race and report it to the FIA if you feel necessary.

4

Vivek,

The teams positions in the pitlane is due to their standings the previous year in the constructors championship…

5

Its according to championship positions, Agreed. But in this era where teams try to save every tenth possible in pitstops, It looks like an unfair advantage.

I remember the FIA actually mixed up the pitlane garage slots a few years back. That looked more fair to everyone.

6

That’s the privilege of being World Champions!!

7

Leaving aside all the stuff about the tyres degrading around the Sakhir circuit (and indeed whether they should be racing at the circuit in the first place), I have to confess the spate of tyres delaminating is quite alarming. Granted, debris was cited in the majority of cases (which raises questions of it own – there weren’t that many collisions after all), but that was an abnormally high failure rate.

Also, can someone PLEASE tell the FIA to get their telemetry problems sorted out? It’s getting slightly embarrassing reading stories about how they can’t use the system fully race after race. You’d think they’d have learned from the WRC fiasco…

8

Webber who ? After all the drama, Vettel showed why he is the No.1. No dramas, no BS, he just put his head down and won a great race!

9

than what they have shown

Who’s writing this stuff? They speak English like what I do.

10

I’m wondering. Alonso has broken the rules in this race – he has used DRS before DRS-line at the end of the lap 3 and it was before his DRS was broken. But he was not punished by FIA.

The evidence is here

He opened DRS before DRS-line and the end of lap 3.

http://www10.pic-upload.de/22.04.13/ex5mxgh45w7g.jpg

DRS-line

http://www7.pic-upload.de/22.04.13/7oqrtyxmco32.jpg

He closed DRS before first corner lap 4.

http://www7.pic-upload.de/22.04.13/pkr5s6xstvds.jpg

I think his action must be investigated by FIA as they did after Brasilia 2012.

11

It was clear that the team saw the DRS wing had failed and he went for 2 unscheduled pitstops because of the failure.

Afterwards, he did not use the DRS to crawl from the back end to salvage some points.

Clearly those actions showed they did everything they could to deal with the situation. Rather than trying to take advantage of it. The 2 unscheduled pit stops are itself enough of a penalty.

FIA would want to investigate why the DRS wing did not have a fail-safe mode. The DRS wing design should be such that if there was any failure, it should always end up in a DRS closed position.

12

DRS wing had failed only when he was on the lap 7. I talk about laps 3 and 4.

13

Funny how it never occurred to you that his DRS was malfunctioning.

15

Please, first have a look at the footage.

DRS was malfunctioning at the lap 7, FA has opened it earlier than allowed at the end of lap 3.

16

I see Pirelli have added a new feature to their tyres to spice up the racing. The new delamination factor really does get the drivers thinking. Just ask Felipe and Lewis…

I wonder if it’s a random feature or do all the tyres now have it as standard.

17

They probably draw a number from a box to see who gets the exploding tires. LOL

18

Grosjean finishes 3rd thanks to ‘degrad tyres’.

19

How can people moan about the tires when we get such spectacle from the Bahrain tradition of snooze?

Just the Hamilton-Webber duel alone during the closing laps is the stuff of legend, amazing; admiring both drivers immensely.

But there was amazingly plenty of it: Perez was back to his 2012 thrills (and spills), all making for great excitement; Grosjean coming out of the pits on his last stop, and putting the same move on… was it Lewis Hamilton, that Kimi put on him while exiting the pits last year?

There’s hope for Grosjean; good move.

The only disappointment, Vettel’s clear and unchallenged dominance.

The tires, along with the other key ingredients, are great right now!

20

+1, Pirelli got it right here.

21

I’m confused by the tyre degradation.

Vettel would have been working his tyres hard especially in the opening few laps but didn’t seem to suffer the same degradation as Webber.

This evident when Webber got up to 2nd behind Vettel but was losing a 2/10ths or so per lap but he was in clean air.

Likewise the so called smoothest driver Button had the same bad tyre degradation and lost out big to Perez.

Is this really what we want to see ?

22

Its all media hype about Button. THe “agressive” Hamilton was able to make them last on the “tire eating” Merc. ALso, Rosberg in the same car as Lewis didnt make them last either…

23

Once Vettel got in the clear and could relax a bit the race was his, but, in all honestly, Webber just wasn’t as fast today.

24

I mean yesterday. Damn night shift lol…

25

hi james – i watched your interview with mark webber on the australian 10 network. i don’t think mark was completely forthcoming. i suspect he is on his way out of red bull. will lotus and red bull do a straight swap re kimi and mark?

the number 2 drive at rb reminds me of lotus in the ’60’s. clark usually got a reliable car but the number 2 driver was treated pretty shabbily.

i think webber needs a change of scenery.

26

I wonder what hulkenberg could’ve done in the force india this year…

27

Pushed the pedals and turned the wheel a bit I imagine…

Yes, in hindsight staying at FI would have been better, but at the time I would have moved to Sauber too.

28

Doub’t Kimi could have done more if he was trailing Vettel all race long. Looking at the sector times, Kimi’s pace was hard earned, while Vettel had pace on demand and Red Bull did not have any issued with degradation.

Said that, yes the gap would have been smaller and Vettel would have worked harder for it.

Yes, Lotus would have had a much better odds, if they started higher up and put more pressure on Vettel.

29

Alonso made one of his best seasons last year. But Vettel made one of his worst. This year Vettel seems to be back to where he belongs so I’m afraid Alonso stands no chance with an incomplete Ferrari.

30

Although I’m sick of hearing about tyres I think its fair to say ALL the drivers made a really good effort to make it a good race and they succeeded especially after last weeks flop. The track design did help but there was a lot of action and to see the McLaren’s going for it was great. Well done JB & SP. If the tyres had lasted longer…….

31

Great Racing! Unfortunately those that give us all the entertainment got penalized by Pirelli. It was more obvious in this race to see that these tyres are a problem for F1 right now. Drivers are starting to really get p__sed off with this situation. They can’t race hard wheel to wheel for more than 2 laps without a significant degradation. If you’re out in front it’s easier to manage and you can increase your lead. Of course there are a few cars better set up to deal with the Pirellis, but imagine how much money and time teams are putting into this problem instead of more interesting and exciting car and engine development.

It’s turning into a farce!

P.S notice how many drivers commented after the race how they enjoyed the close racing, but got punished by degradation? James, your honest thoughts on this please.

32
Matthew Cheshire

Webber’s rear tyres were gone. He made his pitstops early because of tyre wear and had to stretch his last stints. He says it was hotter conditions in the race that were a factor.

He might have been penalised for racing. Would he have made more points with less aggressive driving?

At least his car was working.

Webber’s problems in Bahrain should be encouragement for the other teams. The Red Bulls are hard on tyres. Ferrari should send Massa to dice with Vettel and Alonso hold back and wait for them to come back to him.

33

MIGHT HAVE BEEN? C’Mon mate, they all got punished for racing.

Your suggestion that drivers exploit the tyre problem by using the #2 driver as a sacrificial lamb is exactly where racing will end up if the problem is not sorted out.

34

Ferrari never used the #2 driver as the sacrificial lamb before?

Maybe it would be poor form for Ferrari to do that to Massa, but it would still be a step up from changing his gearbox just so Alonso can move up the grid.

35

Why does everyone go on and on about how great Vettel was today? He certainly drove well and was deserving of the win but he had some good luck as well. It’s pretty clear that both Alonso and Kimi would have been in a fight for the win if they hadn’t had some setbacks. So Vettel was good, particularly with his passes in the first three laps to get to the front but if Kimi has started higher on the grid and if Alonso rear wing didn’t malfunction it would of been an amazing battle for first.

I don’t like hearing all this talk about how dominant Vettel was. There is nothing dominant about winning when your two major challengers were handicapped. Congratulations to Seb for a great drive and a deserved win but let’s be more honest about what happened.

36

Yes Alonso et al gave him a hand, but it’s not like he fumbled it.

Credit where it’s due.

37

If Alonso would pulled that drive yesterday, he would be easily voted driver of the day by majority.

38

Of course, and there is a reason for that. Most of F1 fans are watching races for quite some time and not just a few years back (like, imo, most of Vettel fans). And we measure skill on performance, not on statistics.

39

I have been watching F1 since 1992, and imo Vettel has delivered many quality ‘performances’ over the years, including Sunday.

40

Long time F1 fan and Vettel fan since 2007 (was lost when Schumacher left) and credit where credit is due. He pulled of two great moves on Alonso and Rosberg to get himself into a position to lead and protect his tyres. After 1st set of stops he over took the 2 stoppers to again give him clean air and advantage. This is all very similar to what Alonso did in China and he was praised. Even from myself, who is not an Alonso fan, had to admit that he was in fire in China and it was a great win. Vettel did what was necessary for him to do and he did it perfectly

41

So Alonso wasn’t that good in China either?

42

Alonso was good in China and so was vettel in Bahrain

Alonso did plenty of passing moves in china, wheeras vettel had victory in the bag once he passed rosberg early.

What you miss here is Ferrari called the shots right in china and RBR did simillar job in Bahrain

43

What I miss here is nothing.

I was just pointing out that if someone is going to denigrate one driver for dominating a race, then surely they have to do the same for anyone else?

44

Not a Vettel fan then?

If any other driver had driven like Vettel did he would be similarly hailed too.

45

Give the boys some good Rubber and they will show their power !!!!! Hoho #longerlastingrubber

46
Spinodontosaurus

You mean like the ‘enthralling’ 2005 season? Oh wait…

47

Wow. You managed to pick out *one* dud season in the Bridgestone era? Must have taken you some digging

Not so difficult to find a dud season in the @PijelliZeroGrip days… we’re in the middle of our third in a row

48

Merc is great in qualy and horrible in race…

Lotus is bad at qualy but great in the race…

Ferrari and RB probably the best at combining the two

Hope Raikkonen can push Vettel to make it a fun year

49

Raikkonen is not going to push Vettel because chances are he is going to be Vettel´s team mate next year. He probably will help Vettel a lot more than Webber and the Toro Rosso.

50

Really?! LOL If Kimi has a chance to win by beating Sebm he wont take it because theres a small chance of being teammates? Just like Perez is not pushing Jens because they’re teammates? If you really think that way then you know nothing about F1 drivers…

51

true Anne

52

I wasnt comparing skills, I was using Perez as an example. I still think any driver would do whats needed to pass another driver, friends or not. Its their competitive nature.

53

Kimi and Vettel are good friends. And if Kimi is negotiation a contract with RB he is not going to do anything stupid. And the one who knows nothing is you if you compare a paid driver like Perez with Raikkonen who is one of the best. Eventually if Raikkonen is fighting with Vettel for a position he is going to do it with class

54

Best race of the season so far. DRS-less passes were amazing.

Go Kimi!

55
Tornillo Amarillo

Who are raising their games?

IMO Vettel, Kimi, Grosjean, Hamilton (with a weaker car), Di Resta, Perez, Ricciardo, this is amazing just lot of drivers in the same season, for me that could be explained by the fact the rules have not been changed this year and that could be a point for doing better racing.

56
Mike from Colombia

I think that ironically Button is going to suffer what Hamilton suffered at McLaren.

Hamilton was the only driver ever to really be in the title chase at McLaren and should have been made number 1. After Hamilton’s departure, Button should have been given number 1 status.

I think that Perez is a disastrous decision. I hear that he is only on a one year contract with options. McLaren need to make some sort of judgement call on him around mid-year….that is if he does not have some kind of protection from Carlos Slim.

On another note, I thought Webber’s move to defend against Hamilton was on the dirty side. I like Webber and I am sure he is a cracking bloke, but he is given an easy time by the media when these types of things happen. If that was Michael Schumacher pulling that move we would have had all sorts of accusations and calls for his retirement.

Great performance by Alonso. It just goes to show how much of a benefit and a skill-killer DRS really is.

57

I agree with your comment that McLaren would have been better off had they adopted the Red Bull mentality to driver management with the Lewis/Jenson pairing i.e. Equal equipment, allow fighting on the track, but understand who your prime asset is.

However, I don’t think we are about to see a repeat of the Hamilton situation. Perez is still an unknown quantity, and Button is Whitmarsh’s best pal. If Perez is occasionally taking points off Button as Button did to Lewis in 2010/2012, one needs to consider if Button is realistically mounting a title challenge. No sign of that for now. If Button is genuinely outclassed by Perez when the team is favoring Button, logic says you might as well give Perez at least an equal voice in areas such as car development, strategy and moral support.

Good job pointing out the media’s biases towards Webber and Button.I think the English media gets along better with Webber/Button, and at times are not objective enough in assessing their performances. For the oldies, these are the guys they would like their daughters to marry, for the Gen-Xer’s, these are the guys they have the most in common with. Webber and Button are media savvy, but an objective assessment of their performances will reveal that they are not at the same level as the four guys at the top of the WC over the course of a season.

58
Tom in adelaide

Can we not find some Stewards capable of making decisions during the race? Hopeless……

59

I thought it had something to do with their telemetry problems, they can’t judge it as easily as last year, so want the extra time after the race, if there is any doubt.

60

Stewards decisions shouldn’t be made during a race. When you penalise someone during a race, and get it wrong, you can’t undo that. At least by taking their time to go through it after the race, they can do a proper, thorough investigation, and hear from drivers when necessary, and an appeal is actually meaningful.

Applying a penalty during a race is just a stewards way of saying “I am infallible.”

61

Fair point, but it does seem to be happening a lot.

I might be a minority, but I think either do most of them during the race or do them all after the race, none of this ‘incident’, ‘driver is being investigated’, ‘nah, on second thought we’ll do it later…’ rubbish.

62
Alexander Supertramp

I understand that the ‘massive DRS-issue ‘ last week was special, but they could have handled the Webber-Rsberg incident during the race. Hopeless, ridiculous,absurd.

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