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Paddock Postcard from Bahrain 21 Apr 2013

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates his 200th Grand Prix start with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and the Red Bull Racing team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 200th Grand Prix start cake for Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Isa Hamad Al Khalifa.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 The paddock BBQ.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Tom Dillmann (FRA) Russian Time and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) MP Motorsport lead at the start of race 2. GP2 Series, Rd2, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, 19-21 April 2013. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) MP Motorsport. GP2 Series, Rd2, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, 19-21 April 2013. Race 1 podium and results: 1st Fabio Leimer (SUI) Racing Engineering, centre. 2nd Stefano Coletti (MON) RAPAX Team, left. 3rd Alexander Rossi (USA) Caterham Racing, right. GP2 Series, Rd2, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, 19-21 April 2013. The BIC paddock with palm trees at night.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013

With just a few days to pack up and make the journey from China to Bahrain, on-track preparations and activity dominated the build-up to Sunday’s race. Red Bull’s Mark Webber, however, managed to find a little time to celebrate his 200th Grand Prix start at Sakhir.

“It’s amazing to think it’s 200 starts already,” said Webber. “I can remember my first race like it was yesterday, but that’s the way it goes. Time passes very quickly. It’s a good milestone and I’m proud to have made the 200 club. There have been some good moments along the way too.”

Webber, who made his debut at his home race in Australia back in 2002, joins Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Riccardo Patrese, David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Gerhard Berger, Andrea de Cesaris, Nelson Piquet and Jean Alesi in that exclusive club.

Once again the paddock teemed with familiar - and some less familiar - racing faces. First deputy Prime Minister Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Isa Al Khalifa and Bahrain International Circuit boss Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa represented Bahrain’s motorsport interests as Sir Jackie Stewart, Martin Donnelly, Gerhard Berger, Jonathan Palmer and McLaren roadcar test driver Chris Goodwin made welcome return visits.

Carlos Slim Snr and Jnr were also in attendance on Saturday and Sunday, together with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Lady Helen, Paul and Mark Stewart, and former Land Speed Record holder Richard Noble, who was making a speech at the Motorsport Forum on his first visit to a Grand Prix.

Saturday night again featured the highly popular party in the paddock in the balmy atmosphere of illuminated palm trees and barbecue smoke, as personnel from the F1 and GP2 teams joined together for a ‘Taste of Bahrain’ buffet.

That day’s GP2 feature race saw a superb victory from a very dominant pole position by Racing Engineering’s Fabio Leimer, who finished ahead of Rapax’s Stefano Coletti and Caterham rookie Alexander Rossi.

Coletti had a clear track after second-fastest qualifier Marcus Ericsson stalled his DAMS car on the formation lap. Coletti jumped Carlin’s Felipe Nasr at the start to pressure on Leimer, but the Swiss driver fended him off as the Moneqasque settled into a race-long pursuit. Briton Sam Bird made a blinding start for Russian Time from ninth on the grid to challenge Nasr for third place going into Turn One, as Rossi and Jolyon Palmer (Carlin) battled for fifth.

Rossi made the first pit stop to switch from soft to hard tyres, on the seventh lap, dropping to 19th. Palmer did likewise a lap later and dropped behind the American. Bird and Nasr stopped on lap nine, also losing places to Rossi and Palmer as they rejoined. Leimer and Coletti pitted together on lap 10, rejoining just ahead of Rossi.

The three then sliced back through the field as each other pitted, until they reached a three-way battle for fourth between GP Lazarus team mates Kevin Giovesi and Rene Binder and Arden International’s Mitch Evans. Leimer, Coletti and Rossi slipped by them as new race leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (who had opted to start his MP Motorsport car on hard tyres and thus stayed out longer) pitted for soft rubber on lap 20. That put Leimer back into the lead, and he controlled the race to lead Coletti and Rossi home.

Nasr hung on for fourth as Bird was passed in the closing stages by Palmer. Quaife-Hobbs was seventh from Tom Dillmann (thus putting him on reverse pole for Sunday's sprint race for Russian Time), and Simon Trummer (Rapax) and Johnny Cecotto (Arden International) took the final points.

ART’s James Calado had a torrid time in qualifying, compounded by a 10-place grid penalty from Malaysia, and had to be satisfied with 12th behind Trident’s Kevin Ceccon. Dutch rookie Robin Frijns, the reigning World Series by Renault champion, ran strongly but finished 21st for Hilmer Motorsport after a clash late in the race.

Sunday’s sprint race saw new team Russian Time clinch their first-ever win, courtesy of Bird, who took victory by just 0.08s after a nail-biting battle to the finish line with Carlin’s Nasr. Coletti occupied the remaining podium place to regain the championship lead. Bird's team mate Dillmann started from pole but finished in fourth ahead of Calado and Palmer.

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