World champion Sebastian Vettel cruised to his twenty-first Formula 1 win and his first of the 2012 season at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. The defending champion had not won a Grand Prix since the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last year but made the controversial Bahrain GP win his own on Sunday. In 2nd place was the brilliant Kimi Raikkonen who drove a great race showing that the Iceman is well and truly back, and his second place capped a superb day for Lotus with Romain Grosjean, finishing third.
Sebastian Vettel lead from the start of the race, getting clean off the line and was followed by Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and the fast starting Romain Grosjean.. Going into the first three corners, the pack got too close for comfort but aside from a few a few stray pieces of carbon-fibre, the pack was largely unscathed. Michael Schumacher, starting from 22nd, resulting from botched Qualifying and a penalty for a gearbox change, had a great start and was up to 16th by the end of Lap 2 however team-mate Rosberg dropped to 9th. Heikki Kovalainen made contact at the start of the race and pitted with a left rear puncture, a disappointing occurrence for the Finn who enjoyed a great Qualifying session. Also left disappointed was Daniel Ricciardo who after starting in 6th place for Toro Rosso had an awful start and was down to 17th by the end of Lap 2.
Romain Grosjean made small work of the cars ahead, was in 2nd place after seven laps, and immediately set a new fastest sector time. Ricciardo pitted from 19th to change his front wing and tyres and the cars quicker lap times on the prime medium tyre set off a chain reaction of Button, Massa, Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber. Hamilton has a massive delay on his left rear tyre with a jammed wheel nut, resulting from a mis-thread of wheel nut to hub-cap, and Lewis could only sit and shake his head as his race took a huge set-back. Coming out of the pits, after a 9.9-second stop, the Englishman came out behind former karting team-mate Nico Rosberg who then pushed Hamilton fully off the track. The stewards then announced that the incident would be investigated after the race, however it was later decided that Rosberg gave Hamilton enough room (a full cars width) although replays seemed to suggest otherwise.
Raikkonen made massive improvements to come up behind Grosjean to battle for 2nd place, the Franco-Swiss driver managed to hold him up for three laps that turned out to be a crucial amount of time as Sebastian Vettel increased his lead. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile came in for his second stop and yet again McLaren could not solve their left-rear wheel-nut issue that also cost Jenson Button in China. Again, with the wheel stuck on Hamilton was left to stew in the pit box for 12.7 seconds while they tried to get the wheel. Back on the track Nico Rosberg then appeared to run Fernando Alonso off track whilst trying to defend against him; the Spaniard complained vigorously on his team-radio however as with the earlier incident with Rosberg, no punishment was handed out. Behind them, Maldonado suffered a puncture in the Williams and spun 360 before pulling in to retire the car and on the same lap Charles Pic pulled in to retire his Marussia.
On Lap 34, Raikkonen pulled into DRS range and there was a moment when the whole world thought that Raikkonen has passed Vettel until he suddenly braked and backed out of the manoeuvre. He followed Vettel closely until the third pit stop where Vettel got out ahead and just sped away, Raikkonen was then told to keep going in the hopes that Vettel’s tyres would degrade quickly however unfortunately for the Finn the world champion managed them superbly, increasing his lead.
Jenson Button and Bruno Senna were both late retirees and capped a thoroughly miserable day for both British teams, however out front Sebastian Vettel came out of turn 14 to take the chequered flag much to the delight of the Red Bull team.
After an indifferent start to the season from the current constructors champions Vettel hauled Red Bull back up to the top of the drivers and constructors championship, as the teams now head to Mugello for the mid-season tests.
Lotus F1 secured a superb 2/3, the first time a team carrying the name Lotus have had two drivers on the podium since 1979, when Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann finished second and third in the Spanish Grand Prix. Other stand out performers included Paul di Resta who notched a fantastic sixth battling tooth and nail with the likes of Alonso and Rosberg and Felipe Massa who finally notched his first points finishing in ninth.
6. Di Resta
19. De La Rosa