Vettel’s desert storm
Sebastian Vettel has won back-to-back Bahrain Grand Prix in a display of renewed Red Bull dominance.Vettel was always in the box seat to capitalise on Mercedes’ poor race pace from P2 on the grid, but his job was made easier by the neutralisation of Alonso’s threat thanks to a DRS failure.”Fantastic race. A big thank you to the team today,” said Vettel. “A faultless, seamless race from start to finish.””The pace we had today, we surely didn’t expect that. But we managed the gaps and still had enough tyres to push to the end.”While tyre strategy played a less significant role than it did in China, second place was secured by Kimi Räikkönen courtesy of a two-stop strategy – one of only two drivers to do so.While Räikkönen found solid pace during the race, Lotus must surely hypothesise what could’ve been if the Finn had delivered the goods during qualifying.”I think yesterday wasn’t ideal, so we planned to do two stops because it felt okay,” said Räikkönen.”I didn’t have a very strong first lap – we lost two places – but after that the car started to come to me and I could push more.”The last step on the podium was completed by the so far anonymous Romain Grosjean, whose start to the year has been decidedly quiet.The Franco-Swiss complained of an unknown issue in the last three Grands Prix, which led to Lotus replacing his chassis this round. He replied with a solid result on yet another different strategy.”The first three races have been consistent but not what we wanted. We worked hard with the whole team, and it was hard to figure out what was missing for me,” he said.”We started the race with a strategy that was a bit different. The race was a bit harder, we had to fight on track. But very happy to be here.”Paul di Resta was looking set for his maiden podium in Formula One with his almost unique two-stop strategy, right up until the final ten laps when Romain Grosjean started to push through faster laps.Unable to match times on his older tyres, di Resta had no choice but to accept fourth – a still respectable result for Force India.Lewis Hamilton recovered from a gearbox grid penalty and ninth on the grid to come home fifth after spending much of the final stint battling wheel-to-wheel with Mark Webber.Also to pass Mark Webber was a much-improved Sergio Perez, who put in a consistently feisty performance all afternoon to stake his claim as a real McLaren driver.Perez spent a great deal of the race frustrating his teammate Jenson Button – first leading him, then harassing him – before McLaren separated the two with different pit stop strategies.Perez continued to move up the order, however, and his superior tyre management meant he made one fewer stop than Button, and finished sixth.Mark Webber slowed rapidly on the final lap, just keeping Fernando Alonso at bay to claim seventh place.Alonso endured a difficult race. He started well enough, but a DRS failure forced him into two unplanned pit stops early in the race, which relegated him to the bottom half of the field and a long afternoon of fighting with backmarkers.Nonetheless, the Spaniard put in a typically crafty effort and received four points for his troubles.Nico Rosberg, who started on pole, suffered the most tyre degradation of the two Mercedes drivers, the German seemingly unable to fight for most of the race.Rosberg was, on more than one occasion, mobbed by more than two cars at a time as he struggled for grip on the hard Pirelli tyres.Jenson Button, finally, finished where he started – in tenth, for the race’s final point.Pastor Maldonado finished a season-best eleventh, ahead of Nico Hülkenberg in twelfth.Adrian Sutil started well, but a fight with Massa on the opening lap saw him tumble to last after a forced pit stop, forcing him claw his way back up the field in vain.Valtteri Bottas finished fourteenth, ahead of a deeply disappointed Felipe Massa. Massa looked wily early in the race, but suffered damage to his front wing that forced him to change strategy and ultimately led to him being caught in traffic.Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t back up his career-best seventh place finish last weekend, the Toro Rosso driver taking sixteenth place in Bahrain and finishing one lap down.Charles Pic in his Caterham managed to finish ahead of struggling Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez, whose difficult start to the year was compounded by a five-place grid drop for crashing into Adrian Sutil last weekend.Behind him finished Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, with Giedo van der Garde an additional lap down. Formula One returns for its European season on 12 May at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain.