Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean (both Lotus) is an exact repeat of last year's podium at the Bahrain GP. While the race lacked excitement at the front, there were plenty of stunning manoeuvres further down the grid. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) once again cemented his status as possibly the most complete driver in Formula 1, cutting back through the field after an early wing-flap failure caused him to finish the race without the use of DRS.
Vettel's performance, as he became the first double race winner of the year, heavily resembled his dominant 2011 campaign and it leaves many worried that the young German could cruise to his fourth consecutive world championship. Those fears are a bit premature however, seeing that we are only four races into the season. Also, there is an element of uncertainty about what would have happened if Alonso had not been forced to make two early pit stops due to his DRS wing flap failure. Both Ferrari's were stricken with misfortune in this race, but might have well challenged Vettel if they had been spared those problems.
Despite the comfortable victory for Vettel, there was no shortage in action on the grid. Possibly the most entertaining duel on Sunday, was the clash between the McLaren pair of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. The Mexican pushed his veteran teammate hard and there was contact between their cars on more than one occasion. What was surely a nightmare for McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, was pure excitement for neutral observers. Button even called for his team to: "Calm him [Perez] down" as the race went on.
Others were more than happy to get involved in the carnage. Force India's Paul Di Resta just missed out on a podium spot, as Grosjean stormed past him with five laps remaining. A fourth place finish is still a very impressive result for the Briton. Mark Webber (Red Bull) had to concede two places on the final lap, as both Perez and Hamilton were able to slip by. Hamilton was "very, very happy" with fifth place, after he struggled a lot in his Mercedes during the first half of the race. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) fought back valiantly on a number of occasions, only to finish ninth after having started from pole.
Vettel, the man who missed out on all the drama courtesy of his stellar drive at the front, was clearly happy with the result: "It was a fantastic race. I have to give a big, big thank you to the team today. It was faultless from start to finish. The pace was phenomenal, the car was great. We took good care of the tyres and it all paid off."
The three-time world champion now leads the Drivers' World Championship by ten points ahead of his closest pursuer, Raikkonen, who once again proved his astonishing consistency as he finished in the points for the 21st successive race. Hamilton is third, 27 points adrift from Vettel, with Alonso closely behind. There is no need to fear a one-sided season though, as there are still plenty of race weekends ahead. Friday, May 10th, sees the Formula 1 roll into the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Top 10 results:
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) - Red Bull - 1hr 36min 00.498secs
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) - Lotus - +00:09.111
3. Romain Grosjean (Fra) - Lotus - 00:19.507
4. Paul Di Resta (GB) - Force India - 00:21.727
5. Lewis Hamilton (GB) - Mercedes - 00:35.230
6. Sergio Perez (Mex) - McLaren - 00:35.998
7. Mark Webber (Aus) - Red Bull - 00:37.244
8. Fernando Alonso (Spa) - Ferrari - 00:37.574
9. Nico Rosberg (Ger) - Mercedes - 00:41.126
10. Jenson Button (GB) - McLaren - 00:46.631