Vettel takes chequered flag in controversial Bahrain Grand Prix

 

Sebastian Vettel became the fourth different winner of a grand prix this year by taking the chequered flag in Bahrain.

Not since 2006 has F1 witnessed such a start to a campaign, with the reigning world champion claiming his 22nd career victory.

Behind the German, Lotus enjoyed their best race of the season as Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean joined Vettel on the podium.

It was a disastrous race for McLaren, though, with Lewis Hamilton eighth after two pit-stop issues, whilst Jenson Button retired a lap from home.

It was a race, though, many felt should never have taken place, not given the unrest in the Gulf island in the build-up, and the escalation in demonstrations that have occurred this week.

So to have reached the chequered flag will be seen as a triumph of sorts for the ruling al-Khalifa royal family and King Hamad, against whom many of the protests are being staged.

In the end the race itself passed peacefully, despite rumours leading opposition party al-Wefaq had purchased tickets and had planned a protest inside the track.

In front of a half-full main grandstand, and with every other stand empty, polesitter Vettel crushed his rivals after starting at the front for the 31st time in his career.

Alongside him on the grid Hamilton had no answer, and although he managed to hold second in the opening stages, that was soon given up to Grosjean at the start of lap seven.

Hamilton's problems, though, were only just beginning because at his first pit stop after nine laps he suffered the same problem as befell team-mate Button in China last week, a slow stop due to an issue with the left rear.

If that was not bad enough, at his second stop after another 14 laps, a rear jack problem caused another delay, pitching the 27-year-old down to 11th.

Hamilton only managed to claw back three places through the second half of the race, costing him his championship lead, dropping him to second and four points behind Vettel.

Ahead of him the 24-year-old German appeared comfortable en route to his latest success, that was until after the 30-lap mark as he found himself reeled in by Raikkonen.

The Finn, however, could not find a way past over the following laps, and when the two leaders pitted at the same time, it was Raikkonen's fourth and final set of tyres that were not as strong as his third.

Although told over the radio Vettel would suffer from degradation towards the end, it failed to materialise, instead winning by a 3.3secs cushion come the conclusion of the 57 laps, with Grosjean a further 6.8secs adrift.

Remarkably, Vettel's team-mate in Mark Webber finished fourth for the fourth consecutive race, yet despite that only finds himself five points behind in the standings.

Nico Rosberg grabbed fifth, although could lose that as stewards are to investigate two dangerous moves, swerving violently to try and keep Hamilton and Alonso behind him at two different stages.

On a superb two-stop strategy, compared to three for the leaders, Paul di Resta was sixth in a Force India that today received some TV coverage after the blank of yesterday.

Behind Alonso in seventh and Hamilton, Ferrari's Felipe Massa picked up his first points of the season, with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher 10th after starting 22nd.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones