Sport

Vettel back on top

ON A day when none of the feared disruptions happened, Sebastian Vettel's biggest threat in Bahrain came in the form of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, before the world champion delivered a telling victory for Red Bull.

The German took the lead immediately and quickly outpaced McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and his own team-mate Mark Webber. But it did not take long for the Lotus challenge to emerge. First it was their French sophomore Romain Grosjean who came thrusting up to pass Hamilton on the seventh lap. Then Raikkonen moved up to third place as the first round of pit stops began two laps later.

Paul di Resta, who opted for a two-stop strategy in contrast to the three selected by most of the front-runners, led a grand prix for the first time for Force India on the 12th lap after Vettel had pitted on the 11th, but after that the champion was headed only briefly by Grosjean on the 40th lap during the third and final pit calls. But Raikkonen did not make it easy.

The Finn had hunted Grosjean down by the 20th lap and moved ahead on the 24th before immediately pitting. And then the real chase began. Vettel held a 6.3 seconds lead at one stage before the second stops, but now Raikkonen was only 2.2sec behind, and closing in. The gap shrank steadily to a mere second and the moment of truth came on the 36th lap as Raikkonen edged to the right going into the first corner. But Vettel blocked it, and that would be the closest the Finn got to the win.

Both of them made their last stops on lap 39, and thereafter Vettel opened up a 2.9sec lead straight away, and then built it to a little more than three as the pair of them balanced their speed with tyre conservation to the chequered flag. The Red Bull was still 3.3sec ahead of the Lotus when they got there, but Vettel knew he'd been in a fight.

"It was an incredible race, extremely tough," he said. "I was able to pull away immediately and that turned out to be a big advantage because we always had to go on a used set of tyres as we used nearly all of them new yesterday in qualifying. We could see Kimi was very quick, and so was Romain. With the strategy everything seemed to work so I can only say a big thanks to the boys in the garage. It's an incredible job they've done over the first four races, the amount of work they've done.

"So given the fact that Kimi found a dealership somewhere where he got some new tyres from, which allowed him to start every new stint on new tyres, it was extremely tough to keep them behind us."

Raikkonen admitted that an error cost him a lot. "It's a bit disappointing that I didn't manage to do it. But I made a small mistake at the beginning and lost one place to Massa. I had to re-overtake him and it took a little time. I got past the people quite easily but if you look in the end I think we still took too long and we couldn't win the race. But at least we got the podium with both cars."

Grosjean held on to finish third and on the podium for the first time in his revived career, to make it a great day for Lotus, and Webber took a lonely fourth for Red Bull, unable to match his team-mate's pace but untroubled by Nico Rosberg who just edged ahead of Di Resta on the 52nd lap.

The Scot drove a beautifully-judged race to take a deserved sixth, just keeping Fernando Alonso and Hamilton at bay. It was a timely boost for the Force India team after their scares on Wednesday and Thursday. "It's massive for us," he said after his best day in an F1 cockpit. "The team did an amazing job all weekend, the strategy came together and the pit stops were perfect. We knew it would be a big ask to make only two stops and it was a close-run thing at the end because my tyres completely went away on the final lap.

"I had Fernando very close behind me, but I saved a bit of Kers coming out of the final corner and managed to stay ahead. Apart from that, the car has been awesome. We go away from here as a very happy team, with a few weeks to reflect on things."

As will many people after the most controversial race in recent F1 history.

Topics:  formula one motoring


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Airlie send-off for Rufus tour

ON THEIR WAY: Rufus will wrap up their massive regional tour with a show at Magnums Hotel this month.

Rufus will play at Magnums next week

Taking on a personal touch

PERSONAL: Emily Krause is taking her tour to Magnums Airlie Beach in March.

Emily Dawn will hit up Magnums next month

No better place to plan for knot tying

GET PLANNING: The Whitsunday Wedding and Honeymoon Expo is fast approaching.

Check out the wedding and honeymoon expo next weekend

Local Partners

French tourist avoids jail for selling drugs

A French national avoided jail but was fined for supplying drugs in an Airlie Beach night club last year.

How Stay at Home Mum blogger Jody Allen struck it big

Jody Allen and Walt Collins will co-host the Seven Network's Stay at Home Mum television series from April.

Jody Allen's star continues to rise at incredible speed

Comedy with extra cheese

Paul Fenech is taking his TV series Fat Pizza on the road for a series of live shows.

Fat Pizza and Housos are coming to town

One of the top five car collections in the world

A 1950 Alvis TB14 Roadster is a highlight in the museum.

Gosford home to largest, privately-owned classic car collection.

MOVIE REVIEW: Trainspotting sequel as good as original

DIRECTOR Danny Boyle puts on a masterclass in how to use a 20-year gap between movies to your advantage.

How Karl Stefanovic's wife, kids found out about girlfriend

Karl Stefanovic and Jasmine Yarbrough after their day on Sydney Harbour. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Pictures splashed across tabloid were shock to family

WATCH: Toowoomba opera hopeful's incredible voice

Kaitlyn Orange attends Opera Queensland auditions at Empire Theatres for Opera at Jimbour, Saturday, February 18, 2017.

Opera hopefuls vie for parts in performance at Jimbour House

MKR turns spiteful in suddendeath elimination

Alyse and Matt battled Josh and Amy in a spiteful elimination cook-off.

Bottom of the ladder faces off in spiteful sudden-death cook-off.

Jilted Married At First Sight groom rejected again

Is Married at First Sight groom's second chance over already?

Sir Elton John coming to Mackay: What you need to know

Sir Elton will come to Mackay and Cairns in September.

Tickets to the concert go on sale on March 14

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Global superstar to rock Mackay in 2017

A major concert is set to rock Mackay this year.

Mackay, Cairns to host world's biggest superstars Sir Elton John

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!