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Race - Vettel dominates Bahrain thriller for Red Bull 21 Apr 2013

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1, Jill Jones (GBR) Red Bull Racing Head of on track electronics, race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 crosses the line.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 leads at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Lap 30 and the two McLarens have been wheel-to-wheel for the past few laps. They then get a little too close and Sergio Perez clips the back of team mate Jenson Button and loses part of his front wing Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06 and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21 and Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Carbon fibre carnage early on as Giedo van der Garde loses his Caterham's front wing in a collision with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne suffers a puncture Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull simply annihilated their opposition in Bahrain on Sunday, and though the world champion’s three-stop race left him only 9.1s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s two-stopping Lotus, the margin of superiority was significantly greater than that.

Nico Rosberg led the opening two laps from pole position, but once Vettel overtook the Mercedes on the third lap the race was his to lose. On an opening set of medium Pirelli tyres and then three sets of new hards, he was simply unbeatable and controlled the race to win as he pleased.

Behind him, however, it was a hard race to read but a thrilling one nonetheless. Raikkonen was inevitably overshadowed at times as his stops were out of kilter with the majority’s, as was Paul di Resta who drove a brilliant race for Force India from fifth place on the grid. Unable to contain Raikkonen’s faster Lotus, the Scot was on target for a podium finish until Romain Grosjean, in the second Lotus and on a three-stop strategy, hauled him in and overtook with seven laps to run.

Despite missing the podium, Di Resta’s performance equalled the best of his F1 career and reward for the poor fortune he’s had so far this year.

Behind them, fifth place was at times the subject of super-heated debate between Mark Webber’s Red Bull, the McLarens and both Mercedes cars. In particular, the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez had such a scrap that the Englishman at one stage instructed his team over the radio to 'Calm him down' after Perez tapped the 2009 world champion’s right-rear wheel with his front wing.

Rosberg faded after suffering contact at one stage with Webber, and needed a fourth pit stop. But once he got ahead, the Australian was vulnerable. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who early in the race had been as low as 11th on pace while conserving his tyres, came alive at this point and overtook the second Red Bull on the 51st lap, but Webber was able to retaliate on the 53rd. That set up some mighty side-by-side racing between the two as Webber blocked and Hamilton ducked and dived behind him.

On the very last lap Hamilton hung tough down the inside going into Turn 1, and Webber had to concede. As he and Hamilton had fought, Perez got a second wind after dealing with an attacking Alonso, and passed the Red Bull as Webber lost momentum after Hamilton’s pass.

Alonso had grabbed second at the start, but after Vettel passed him later that lap after judicious use of his KERS, the Spaniard stopped for new tyres on the seventh lap, then had to duck in again on the ninth when his DRS rear wing flap stuck in the open position. That dropped him way back, and left him to fight back - without DRS - for the rest of a disastrous afternoon for Ferrari in which he’d eventually finish eighth.

Rosberg finished a frustrated ninth in a race in which he had earlier run way ahead of his team mate, while Button got the better of Perez in their heated battles, but ultimately also had to make a fourth stop and thus dropped to tenth.

Pastor Maldonado drove a controlled race to 11th for Williams, after team mate Valtteri Bottas required a late stop for fresh rubber and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who had to stop four times because of a failed tyre early on and then a serious puncture towards the end, fell back. Thus it was Nico Hulkenberg who crossed the line in 12th for Sauber, with Adrian Sutil recovering from another first-lap clash, with Massa, to take 15th for Force India after a drive which at one stage earned him fastest lap. Bottas was 14th, Massa 15th.

Daniel Ricciardo was Toro Rosso’s sole, troubled, finisher in 16th after Jean-Eric Vergne became the race’s only retirement after an early clash with Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham.

The Marussias jumped the Caterhams at the start, as per the pre-race plan, but then Charles Pic overtook them both and swept away to secure a minor victory for the Leafield team and 17th overall. As Jules Bianchi led Marussia partner Max Chilton home in 19th and 20th positions, Van der Garde finished 21st and last. Esteban Gutierrez started last, got hit by debris on the opening lap, but made up some places to finish 18th for Sauber.

The race extends Vettel’s 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.

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