Apr 21, 2013, 9:47 AM EST
Sebastian Vettel has cruised to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix today after staying out of trouble and setting a searing pace to finish well ahead of his rivals.
The defending world champion took the lead on the first lap of the race and didn’t look back, whilst his closest rivals in qualifying, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, both ran into trouble to fall well down the order.
Eventually, it was the Lotus pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean who posed the greatest challenge to Vettel, with Raikkonen stopping just twice on his way to second place. Grosjean stopped three times, and he managed to make the strategy work to overtake Force India’s Paul di Resta. The British driver will be very pleased to have matched his best ever result in Formula One with the two-stop strategy.
Lewis Hamilton led home a battling group at the end to finish 5th ahead of Sergio Perez in 6th. The McLaren driver overtook Mark Webber on the last lap, whilst Fernando Alonso came back from making two unscheduled pit stops due to a DRS failure to finish P8.
Pole-sitter Nico Rosberg suffered as many expected with his tire wear, and he could only manage to finish 9th, with Jenson Button completing the points in P10.
Vettel’s lead was as great as 30 seconds in places, and he managed to set a good pace throughout the race. For good measure, he posted the fastest lap of the race with three laps remaining, and the defending world champion now has a ten point lead in the drivers’ championship entering the European season.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Lotus will be delighted to have finished P2 and P3 after starting 8th and 11th, and the result has seen the team move up to second place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Ferrari. Raikkonen is the only driver within one race win (25 points) of Vettel, and he will be keen on placing himself in the championship hunt.
The split in strategies produced some great action, and there was even a close battle between McLaren teammates Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Perez had been told in the week to “be more aggressive”, and he did exactly that to push his teammate off the track at one point. He was just as ruthless when disposing of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber on his way to P6, which is his best result since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.
Further back, Williams continued its barren run in P11 and P14, whilst Felipe Massa suffered two punctures on his way to 15th. Caterham won the battle of the backmarkers, with Charles Pic finishing ahead of both Marussias, his teammate, and even the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.
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