Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won Sunday’s race at the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position to take his first victory of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
The world champion fended off Kimi Raikkonen for the win, as the Lotus driver came from eleventh on the grid to take second place.
Lotus also secured the third step on the podium thanks to Romain Grosjean’s fine drive, with Mark Webber fourth in the second Red Bull and Nico Rosberg fifth for Mercedes.
Force India employed a two-stop strategy to help Paul di Resta, who performed expertly, to finish sixth, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso coming home seventh.
Lewis Hamilton, having started second, could only manage to finish eighth after suffering from pit-stop problems, while his McLaren teammate, Jenson Button, appeared to struggle with his car's balance all afternoon. Button eventually retired late on.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was ninth, while Mercedes man Michael Schumacher came from the second last row of the grid to score a point for tenth place.
Vettel made a good getaway from pole, as did Hamilton from second, while Webber managed to hold onto third place. Alonso stormed up from ninth to fifth, as Rosberg went in the opposite direction.
Just over three laps into the race, Grosjean used DRS to power past Webber for third place, before doing the same to Hamilton a few minutes later.
During the opening round of pit-stops, Hamilton was held up due to a problem with his left-rear tyre. The delay forced Hamilton into a fight against Rosberg back out on track, with the Englishman briefly taking to the sand to pass the Mercedes.
The recovering Hamilton soon also made his way past Alonso, while Vettel began to cement his dominance up front.
Lotus were showing some stunning pace, however, with Grosjean second and Raikkonen up to third, in part due to Hamilton’s problems. Soon before mid-distance, the Finn overtook his teammate and set about hunting down Vettel.
The second set of pit visits brought another problem for Hamilton, and once again the left rear was the culprit, with the Englishman dropping outside of the top 10 before fighting his way back late on.
Up front, Vettel came under pressure from Raikkonen, but managed to fend off the Finn, before gaining some time during the final round of stops.
Thereafter, Raikkonen was unable to seriously challenge the leader, despite repeatedly threatening to do so, as Vettel marched home for the victory and the lead of the drivers’ championship.
Bahrain Grand Prix: Provisional race results.
1. Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1h35:10.990
2. Raikkonen, Lotus-Renault, +3.300
3. Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, +10.100
4. Webber, Red Bull-Renault, +38.700
5. Rosberg, Mercedes, +55.400
6. Di Resta, Force India-Mercedes, +57.500
7. Alonso, Ferrari, +57.800
8. Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, +58.900
9. Massa, Ferrari, +1:04.900
10. Schumacher, Mercedes, +1:11.400
11. Perez, Sauber-Ferrari, +1:12.700
12. Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, +1:16.500
13. Vergne, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, +1:30.300
14. Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari, +1:33.700
15. Ricciardo, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, +1 lap
16. Petrov, Caterham-Renault, +1 lap
17. Kovalainen, Caterham-Renault, +1 lap
18. Button, McLaren-Mercedes, +1 lap
19. Glock, Marussia-Cosworth, +2 laps
20. De la Rosa, HRT-Cosworth, +2 laps
21. Karthikeyan, HRT-Cosworth, +2 laps
22. Senna, Williams-Renault, +3 laps
Driver, Team, Retired on lap...
Maldonado, Williams-Renault, 26
Pic, Marussia-Cosworth, 25