April 23rd, 2013 (F1plus/R. Creed).- Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix and win by Sebastian Vettel looks reminiscent of his dominance in 2012 and could signal the start of a winning streak for the German. There were also stand out performances from Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez as both look to assert themselves in 2013. We take a look at where each team stands after round four.
Sebastian Vettel and Co. took charge of both the race and the championship with the German becoming the first driver with multiple wins in 2013. It took Vettel just three laps to dispatch pole sitter Nico Rosberg and from then on he controlled the race and never looked like being challenged. Mark Webber battled with the McLaren’s and the Mercedes for fifth place for much of the race and was later reprimanded after a clash with Rosberg. The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton beat Webber in the final laps with the two exchanging places. As Webber and Hamilton fought the Australian found himself conceding another place to Sergio Perez. Red Bull lead the constructors by 16 points while Vettel leads the drivers title by 10.
Red Bull may have won but Lotus were team of the day securing second and third on the podium. Kimi Raikkonen drove an impressive two stop race keeping out of trouble and now sits in second in the drivers championship. Romain Grosjean’s disappointing start to the season ended in Bahrain when he beat Paul di Resta in the closing laps to secure third. Grosjean ran a three stop race strategy and took part in a number of race battles as he showed a return to form. Lotus trail Red Bull by 16 points in the constructors title.
Paul di Resta equalled his best ever F1 finish with fourth place. He looked set on securing the first podium of his career but was overtaken by Grosjean with seven laps to go. He moves up to eighth in the drivers championship after a good points haul. Adrian Sutil was once again a victim of a fist lap incident after a clash with Massa punctured his tyre and he limped back to the pits losing time and leaving him at the back of the field. His pace was as good as if not better than Di Resta’s and he did well to make his way back up to 13th. Force India should have been on course for a double points finish but they will be more than happy with fourth place.
Nico Rosberg was a surprise pole sitter on Saturday but his time at the front was short lived and Vettel passed him within three laps. Rosberg had run ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton but ended up ninth after an extra pitstop following a clash with Webber. Hamilton conserved tyres for much of the race but in the final laps he challenged and passed Webber for fifth. There was plenty of wheel to wheel racing between the two and Hamilton hung on to take home 10 points. After their pole position Mercedes should have challenged more during the race but the pace was simply not there.
Sergio Perez was told to be more aggressive after last weekends Chinese Grand Prix and he certainly listened much to the frustration of his teammate Jenson Button. The two battled from early in the race with Button telling the team over the radio to ‘calm him down’ after Perez got a little bit too close for comfort and touched the 2009 champions wheel. Button may have got the better of Perez in their battles but he finished behind him after having to make a fourth stop leaving him tenth. Perez capitalised on Hamilton and Webber fighting in the final laps to steal sixth off Webber on the last lap.
Fernando Alonso may have taken second on the first lap but he was passed by Vettel who subsequently took the race lead. He stopped on the seventh lap for new tyres and was back in the pits just two laps later after his DRS rear wing flap got stuck open. The issue happened once again and he ended up back in the pits and without DRS for the rest of the race. He eventually held on for eighth place. The day wasn’t any better for Felipe Massa- a lap one clash with Sutil left him with a broken wing but he managed to survive without a replacement. Massa ended up stopping four times after a tyre failure and a puncture which left him way back in the field only finishing 15th.
There was improvement for the team with Pastor Maldonado finishing 11th just outside the points. It was his and the teams best performance of 2013 and shows a marked improvement from the previous races. Valtteri Bottas was a strong 14th despite having to make a late stop for fresh tyres. The next race in Barcelona will mark a year since the team secured a victory but they do not look like replicating that performance in 2013.
The Swiss based team struggled across the weekend only managing a best of 12th place with Nico Hulkenberg. The German had mixed amongst the top ten during the race but did not have the pace to keep himself in the hunt for points. Gutierrez started from the back of the grid following his penalty from China. His race wasn’t much better in Bahrain with him only managing 18th place and being beaten by a Caterham.
Daniel Ricciardo was the only finisher for Toro Rosso after a disappointing race for the team. The Australian started from 13th but failed to move forward eventually finishing 16th one lap down. Jean-Eric Vergne retired on lap 16 after suffering damage following an early clash with Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham. Vergne was the only retirement of the race. The team will be disappointed after their strong performance in China with Ricciardo’s sixth place finish.
Caterham beat Marussia for the first time this season after Charles Pic finished 17th. Both Marussias had got ahead of the Caterhams at the start of the race but Pic soon passed them and went on to finish strongly. Giedo van der Garde suffered after a clash with Jean-Eric Vergne and could only manage 21st behind the Marussias. Pic also beat the Sauber of Gutierrez.
Marussia got ahead of the Caterhams early on in the race but couldn’t keep ahead. Jules Bianchi finished 19th- the first time he has not been the lead finisher of the backmarkers. Max Chilton finished behind his teammate once again after the pair were both beaten by Charles Pic’s Caterham.