Sebastian Vettel achieved his 28th victory in Formula 1 with an impeccable performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The triple world champion pushed his Red Bull to the front of the pack following a spectacular early dicing with his rivals. After that, Sebastian just pulled away and earned his second win of 2013.
In a carbon copy of last year’s podium result, the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean made it through the field to second and third, with the latter denying Paul di Resta a maiden podium with just six laps to the flag.
Vettel was in a hurry to hit the front from the off. The German forced polesitter Nico Rosberg to defend heavily off the line, and although Fernando Alonso managed to get his Ferrari between them around the outside, the triple world champion surged back into second with a bold move at Turn 5.
Vettel then pounced on Rosberg’s Mercedes into Turn 4 on the second lap, only to run wide. Next time around he made the move stick, and thereafter inched away towards an ever more certain victory.
Alonso was soon up to second but his DRS flap was jammed open. The Spaniard made an emergency pitstop to fix it, but the problem reoccurred. By lap nine, he was P19, had made two pitstops but without the use of DRS, it became a difficult race for the Chinese Grand Prix winner.
With Alonso out of contention, the best of the rest battle became a contest between di Resta and Raikkonen, both two-stopping compared to the front runners who made most three.
Di Resta looked to be best-placed until his final pitstop, when Raikkonen vaulted him having stopped sooner.
Force India remained on course for third for a while, but Grosjean was coming up fast. The three-stopping Frenchman saved his medium tyres for the final stint and was able to hunt down and pass the Scotsman, who had to settle for fourth position.
The rest of the top ten featured wild racing, with plenty of wheel-to-wheel action as different strategies unfolded and different cars found pace at various stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was able to progress through the field despite a low-key start and in the end, took fifth for Mercedes.
Sergio Perez produced by far his most combative performance for McLaren yet. He was involved in a long duel with team-mate Jenson Button and the fading Rosberg, which featured contact between the pair and anxious radio messages on more than one occasion.
Despite losing a front wing endplate against his team-mate, Perez finished sixth, joining Hamilton in passing Mark Webber on the final lap.
Webber had been a podium threat for Red Bull, but in the end fell back on his final set of tyres.
Alonso fought through to eighth despite his lack of DRS, with Rosberg and Button forced to make four pitstops and ending up ninth and tenth.
Felipe Massa suffered two right rear punctures and was only P15. He had also made contact with Adrian Sutil on the opening lap, causing a puncture for the Force India driver, who made it back up to P13.
So a fantastic result for Sebastian Vettel. The German edges ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart record with 28 victories.
Vettel extends his points score to 77, ten points ahead of Raikkonen on 67, while Hamilton moves up to third on 50 from Alonso on 47. Webber is fifth on 32 from Massa on 30, Grosjean on 26, Di Resta on 20, Rosberg on 14 and Button on 13.
Red Bull have 109 points in the constructors’ championship, with Lotus moving to second on 93 from Ferrari on 77. Mercedes are still in play with 64, with Force India fifth on 26 and McLaren on 23.
Bahrain Grand Prix race results after 57 laps:
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h36:00.498s
2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault +9.111s
3. Grosjean Lotus-Renault +19.507s
4. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes +21.727s
5. Hamilton Mercedes +35.230s
6. Perez McLaren-Mercedes +35.998s
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault +37.244s
8. Alonso Ferrari +37.574s
9. Rosberg Mercedes +41.126s
10. Button McLaren-Mercedes +46.631s
11. Maldonado Williams-Renault +1m06.450s
12. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari +1m12.933s
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +1m16.719s
14. Bottas Williams-Renault +1m21.511s
15. Massa Ferrari +1m26.364s
16. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Pic Caterham-Renault +1 lap
18. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
19. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth +1 lap
20. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth +1 lap
21. van der Garde Caterham-Renault +2 laps
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 39 laps
World Championship standings, round 4:
1. Vettel 77
2. Raikkonen 67
3. Hamilton 50
4. Alonso 47
5. Webber 32
6. Massa 30
7. Grosjean 26
8. Di Resta 20
9. Rosberg 14
10. Button 13
11. Perez 10
12. Ricciardo 6
13. Sutil 6
14. Hulkenberg 5
15. Vergne 1
1. Red Bull-Renault 109
2. Lotus-Renault 93
3. Ferrari 77
4. Mercedes 64
5. Force India-Mercedes 26
6. McLaren-Mercedes 23
7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7
8. Sauber-Ferrari 5
Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya. May 10-12.