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Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Race

Five minutes to go before the race begins. I hope this will become a good race – Bahrain races tend to be fairly dull, mainly due to the sandy track surface making overtaking very difficult. However, there are two DRS zones here this year, with the length of the front straight into Turn 1 looking a better overtaking opportunity than back straight. Nico Rosberg will be looking to hold on to the lead from pole position.

Laps 1-5:

A clean start means that all 22 are running, but Jean-Eric Vergne , Giedo van der Garde and Adrian Sutil both stop at the end of the first lap. Sebastian Vettel has attempted to overtake leader Rosberg, but he still leads. There is a string of cars behind Rosberg. Vettel’s car is clearly faster, and he takes advantage to pass for the lead on lap 3. Once cars have DRS at the end of lap three, movement between positions begins. 11 seconds cover the top 15. Vettel’s lead is increased to 2.8 seconds.

04 Bahrain

Laps 6-10:

Paul di Resta passes Rosberg into turn 1 using DRS. Massa is very quickly behind him, Rosberg’s tyres may be going off already. Alonso pits from the lead with his DRS stuck open. The field is tight all the way through – lots of close racing. Vettel still leads by 4.969s. Alonso’s DRS remains open once more – he pits again and resumes in 19th place. Felipe Massa passes Rosberg for third place. Quite a few cars end the 10th lap by pitting.

Laps 11-15:

Paul di Resta leads the race briefly as other pit ahead of him. Kimi Raikkonen follows him, with Nico Hulkenberg, and Valtteri Bottas behind. Vettel is now fifth. Di Resta is told the team want to continue on a two-stop plan, which also looks like Raikkonen’s strategy. Vettel is now the fastest man on track with fresh tyres, closing quickly now on the lead pair of di Resta and Raikkonen. Di Resta pits at the end of lap 15, briefly giving the lead to Raikkonen who is instantly overtaken by Vettel.

Laps 16-20:

Vettel is now pulling away from Raikkonen, who is still setting reasonable pace as he attempts to make a two-stop plan work. Further down the field, Alonso has passed Daniel Ricciardo and has moved up to 13th spot. Massa, now sixth on the road, didn’t have his front wing changed at the first stop, with some of the upper elements still flapping around – However, there are problems for Massa as he tours slowly and is passed by Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez. He has a tyre de-lamination  but not as dramatic as Lewis Hamilton’s on Saturday morning. Jean-Eric Vergne is into the pits again with big underfloor damage from an incident on the first lap. He is wheeled into the garage to become the first retired driver of the race.

Laps 21-25:

Quite a few drivers are pitting again – although this is very early for two stops, and some drivers look like completing four stops! Nico Hulkenberg is up to sixth with Pastor Maldonado seventh, Alonso eighth, Mark Webber rejoined in ninth with Perez 10th. Long-stinter Hulkenberg gets fifth in his Sauber, with Webber in sixth the first to have made two stops – he quickly overtakes Hulkenberg with his fresher tyres. Vettel leads from Grosjean, di Resta and Raikkonen, although Vettel pits at the end of lap 25.

Laps 26-30:

Vettel rejoins the track in the lead ahead of Grosjean. Close racing down the field between the two McLarens of Button and Perez with the Mercedes of Rosberg for 6th. Di Resta, Grosjean and Raikkonen are all battling for second – currently held by di Resta. Grosjean pits though and switches to the soft tyre. He will most likely have to stop again.  With the pit stops, Button is now 5th, with Perez all over the back of his car – as Perez taps the back of Button, Rosberg appears to have closed back up to them.

Laps 31-35:

Vettel continues to lead, 12.9 seconds ahead of Paul di Resta who is being hunted down by Kimi Raikkonen. Grosjean has passed Rosberg, slotting behind the two McLaren drivers. Perez continues to harry Button very aggressively. Perez appears quicker but he isn’t going the right way about overtaking Button! Grosjean eventually overtakes Perez giving Button some breathing space from his own team mate. As this is going on, Raikkonen has pulled up to di Resta and a combination of straight line speed and DRS allows Raikkonen to take 2nd from di Resta. Grosjean now passes Button using his fresher rubber into turn 1 – Rosberg has pitted to leave the McLarens on their own more or less. Raikkonen and Button both pit.

Laps 36-40:

Di Resta is second again. Hamilton makes his way past Perez into fifth. Di Resta stops and resumes well behind Raikkonen whoo is currently 7th, with Alonso 8th, Massa 9th – but he has to pit due a puncture and is pushed down to 15th. Raikkonen has now joined the battle to overtake Perez, which he manages down the straight into Turn 1. Alonso is now seventh and di Resta is eighth after his recent stop. Rosberg is ninth and he posts the fastest lap of the race – 1m38.296s. Webber has been in for his final stop and finds Rosberg in his way as he resumes – he holds off Rosberg after slight contact and is able to hold onto eighth position. Webber, who is now up to fifth, finds himself under investigation for that pit exit contact with Rosberg.

Laps 41-45:

Vettel remains in the lead from Grosjean and Raikkonen, although Grosjean still needs to pit. Di Resta is now ahead of Webber. Vettel finally stops from the lead, but there are no issues and he sontinues where he left off. Grosjean pits at the end of lap 42. Behind the top six, Rosberg is seventh with Hamilton eighth. The Briton now has Perez and Alonso gaining on him quickly. Grosjean resumes right with that scrap between Webber and Button. He gets the Lotus in between that pair and he storms ahead of Webber with the benefit of fresh medium rubber.

Laps 46-50:

Behind the leaders we have Hamilton in sixth, as Perez passes Button for seventh place! Alonso takes advantage of Button’s relative poor pace and surges through ahead of the Briton and into eighth spot. Button pits. Alonso also overtakes Perez for seventh. Things are settling a little, most action coming from Hamillton who is just behind Webber.

Laps 51-End (57):

Hamilton makes a move against Webber stick for fifth. Grosjean is now right with di Resta and the Lotus driver overtakes using DRS . That makes is Vettel from Raikkonen and Grosjean. Hamilton has made a mistake at the final corner, allowing Webber past again. Alonso and Perez have now caught the Webber versus Hamilton battle, making it a four-car fight for fifth. Perez keeps attacking and takes the opportunity to pass Alonso and take over seventh place, as the action hots up once again. Webber and Hamilton are still going at it the Australian fends off a strong attack from the Mercedes driver. Sebastian Vetel wins the Bahrain Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen makes a two-stop plan work for a fine second place in the tyre-friendly Lotus. Romain Grosjean returns to the podium after a battling three-stop drive in the other Lotus. It’s a fine fourth place for di Resta, only demoted from the podium by the late pace from Grosjean. Hamilton claims fifth at the line after making the tyres work on his Mercedes today. while Perez has been in the action all afternoon and takes sixth, Nico Rosberg ends up ninth after starting the race from pole.

Race Results:

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1h36:26.945s
  2. Kimi Raikkonen- Lotus-Renault, + 9.1s
  3. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, + 19.5s
  4. Paul di Resta, Force India-Mercedes, + 21.7s
  5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, + 35.2s
  6. Sergio Perez, McLaren-Mercedes, + 35.9s
  7. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, + 37.2s
  8. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, + 37.5s
  9. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 41.1s
  10. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, + 46.6s
  11. Pastor Maldonado, Williams-Renault, + 1m06.4s
  12. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber-Ferrari, + 1m12.9s
  13. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, + 1m16.7s
  14. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Renault, + 1m21.5s
  15. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, + 1m26.3s
  16. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, + 1 lap
  17. Chalres Pic, Caterham-Renault, + 1 €lap
  18. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, + 1 lap
  19. Jules Bianchi, Marussia-Cosworth, + 1 lap
  20. Max Chilton, Marussia-Cosworth, + 1 lap
  21. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham-Renault, + 2 laps

Fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1m36.961s

Not classified/retirements:

  • Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 16 laps

An action packed race that never really got settled – and an enjoyable one too.

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