Red Bull have been unleashed. Adrian Newey has worked his magic again and put his car at the top. But they are followed by the competetive McLarens. Can the experience on the second row of Webber and Button take the Youngsters of Vettel and Hamilton up front.
Thermal degradation. A posh way of saying Overheated tyres. As Bahrain is so hot and the track temperature is so high a lot of the teams believe the tyres will destroy themselves quickly which may lead to a lot of different pit stop strategies.
And we’re away. Button has a bad start. Grosjean is flying, alongside Alonso. Button down to 6th. Rosberg has been dropped and is behind Raikkonen and Massa. Contact in the mid pack as they battle for places. Vettel has a massive lead after the first lap. Kovalainen pulls into the pits with 3 wheels on his wagon. Schumacher, Maldonado and Massa make up 6 places in the first couple of laps. Vettel has a 3 second lead after 2 laps. Massa bully’s Raikkonen out of the way and takes 7th with a bit of contact. Rosberg still down in 9th.
Grosjean has taken Mark Webber up the main straight. Raikkonen is all over Massa and sticks one on him through the chicane to take 7th back. Grosjean in the Lotus looks awesome, he’s now on Hamilton’s gearbox and hussling him while Raikkonen is keeping up the pace and catching Button now after gapping Massa. And Grosjean has it! Hamilton down to 3rd and can the Lotus catch up to Vettel? Almost 5 seconds behind but his pace is blistering. Raikkonen is ahead of Button now. These Lotus boys have had their Weetabix!
Button on the radio, struggling with rear tyres. McLaren do look in a bit of trouble. Both drivers now complaining about rear tyres spinning up and losing traction. Raikkonen now has Alonso in his sights and flies past him on the main straight. Button, Massa and Rosberg into the pits. Button and Massa onto medium compound, Rosberg onto softs.
So after all the talk of Thermal degradation it looks like the tyres are losing grip rather quickly and we’re into the pits after 9 laps. Most jumping in now after seeing the early stops. Hamilton is stuck, gets passed by Alonso and Webber in the pits. He’s came out behind Alonso and Button. Rosberg forces Hamilton onto the dirt but he doesn’t lift and overtakes him!!! That’s an angry Lewis after a sticky left rear in the pit stop. Raikkonen is still out without pitting along with Vettel. Hamilton and Rosberg under investigation, Rosberg complains Hamilton passed him off the track.
Button has passed Alonso, looking a lot more comfortable on these medium tyres. Vettel and Raikkonen have pitted giving Di Resta the lead. But after 1 lap Vettel takes Di Resta and grabs back his 1st place. Raikkonen is hustling Mark Webber and Webber yields the place. Hamilton takes Alonso for 8th and is on a charge. Di Resta coming into the pits after he gets passed by Grosjean, so now it’s Vettel in the Red Bull followed by both Lotus cars, Grosjean and Raikkonen. It does appear that they are closing down the leader, Raikkonen catching his team mate due to the soft tyres on his car and the medium’s on Grosjean’s.
So, Vettel leads the Grand Prix but Lotus smell blood and are catching him quite quickly. McLaren are looking quicker on the Medium tyres behind Webber who has looked comfortable in 4th if not remarkable. The Ferrari’s are doing well with Rosberg in the middle of that sandwich. And don’t forget Rosberg and Hamilton being under investigation for that rallying overtake earlier on, which has now come out they will investigate further after the race, so no drive through penalties now. Raikkonen is lapping faster than both Vettel and Grosjean in front of him.
Di Resta, Maldonado and Perez go through a hairpin 3 abreast Perez losing 2 places in that battle. Di Resta is now sizing up Massa for 9th, will his 2 stop lead to a good finish for Force India. Button in the pits again for more mediums as does Rosberg and Massa. Raikkonen is finally past Grosjean, but has he used up all the good parts of those soft tyres. Webber, Hamilton and Alonso in the pits. Hamilton has another nightmare pit stop, 12 seconds. He’s going to be fuming. McLaren have now had issues in all the races so far this season, and twice today for Hamilton. Into the pits comes Raikkonen, those tyres were too worn out. Should Lotus have told Grosjean to let him past?
And the race leader pits, Grosjean in too, and Raikkonen has passed Grosjean in the pits, and he’s very much closer to Vettel! Maldonado has a spinner with a blown rear tyre. Raikkonen is setting fastest laps. Rosberg has pushed Alonso off the track at the same point he pushed Hamilton off the track and Alonso is, how can I put it, rather upset? So, will Rosberg be punished after the race? Di Resta running in 4th at the minute on a 2 stop strategy, can he make it work for a good finish or will the tyres just give up?
Hamilton all over the back of Massa who tries a Rosberg shove but Hamilton backs out of the pass. Rosberg under investigation after the race yet again for that clash with Alonso. Raikkonen is now 2 seconds behind Vettel, Raikkonen the man that started 11th. The Lotus had to come good at some point, they’ve looked quick since the start of the season. Rosberg in 8th is being held up by Kobayashi in 7th, but opens the DRS on the main straight and zips past after a weaving battle.
Raikkonen is getting close to 1 second behind Vettel now, the DRS will be open on his car on the main straight. This car looks awesome in his hands. Button takes the struggling Di Resta for 5th place. And the DRS is open for Raikkonen, he’s right on Vettel’s gearbox now. But he’s up against a master who spent a whole season defending his lead. Grosjean is catching the pair now while they battle. I think he can take 2nd if Raikkonen takes Vettel. What a day that would be, a Lotus One Two. We shall see.
And the next stage of pit stops begins. Hamilton gets another stinker, not so bad but 5.4 is still 2 seconds off the pace. Vettel and Raikkonen in at the same time, both onto the medium. Kimi’s lost a bit of time there, around 2 seconds behind Vettel now. Grosjean pits from the lead. For all of Hamilton’s good driving and overtaking his race has been ruined by Pit Stop errors. Vettel looks so much quicker now and Kimi seems to have lost his mojo, Grosjean is catching him so will orders be issued for Kimi to let him past?
Into the last 10 laps of the race and Raikkonen having dropped 3.5 seconds behind Vettel has started reigning him in. Has he just saved his tyres and took it easy since that pit stop? Turn the engine down, cruise a little then slap it back up and go all guns blazing at the end? It looks that way, it’s 2.6 with 8 laps left. Di Resta is still out there on a 2 stop in 5th followed by Rosberg in 6th. Button should be catching them but is still 5 seconds back from them. Vettel has slammed that door shut, gap back to 3.4 seconds and pulling away. The Defending 2011 Champion Vettel looks sure to take the lead of the 2012 Championship at the moment.
Rosberg finally passes Di Resta with a massive lock up, that fight has held them up though and Button has closed in on them. Button pits with a puncture. What a killer. He’ll be gutted, all points gone. 3 laps remaining and Vettel has a 3 second lead, although Raikkonen is closing him down he should have a big enough gap. Jenson also now complaining that the engine sounds strange. The team check on it, his car is choking and they call him in to park it in the garage.
And the chequered flag awaits for the Defending Champion. Double Podium for Lotus in 2nd and 3rd. Vettel has to park at the end of the pit lane, he’s obviously rather low on fuel. Di Resta claims 6th place from his 2 stop, what a result for Force India. And that’s one fit young boy, Vettel completes a full GP and then runs down the pit lane, helmet and all to get to the weigh-room.
So in summary, a top day for Red Bull, Vettel driving superbly and holding off Raikkonen. Webber quietly comfortable in 4th for them too. A great result for Lotus with what looks like a great car and two top drivers in Kimi and Romain. Rosberg managed to drag his damaged car into 5th unlike Button who retired with a sick sounding McLaren. Ferrari finish well with Alonso who tried to chase down Di Resta but to no avail, the Force India man kept 5th. Hamilton after all his tribulations finished up with some consolation points in 8th.
The Finger is back, congratulations Sebastian. Don’t forget about Rosberg being investigated after the race, that could lead to possible - Time Penalty, Reprimand, Exclusion from this race, or Suspension from next race. All depending on how serious the stewards deem it.
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