It looked comfortable and it was comfortable for Sebastian Vettel, who led the Bahrain Grand Prix almost from start to finish. The triple world champion drove a typical “Vettel” race to win in style some 10 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen in second place.
The German managed to wrestle his way to the front after passing Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso in the early stages. From then on it was all about getting his head down and pushing, something he did to edge clear of the battling pack.
With so many scraps taking place up and down the field, Vettel was given the break he needed to get in clean air and control the race. Speaking in a team statement after the race he branded the victory as “comfortable”, saying “I love to be in clean air, so I was pushing hard to get into the lead and, with the speed we had mid-race, it was quite comfortable today.”
He crossed the line to take his second consecutive race victory in Bahrain, commenting on the opening few laps to say “It was good fun at the beginning with some very tight wheel to wheel racing. At the start you don’t know if you will be quick or not, as everyone is a bit all over the place, including yourself.”
He added “It’s important to get to the front”, which he duly did, “we saw at the last race that if you get stuck behind someone then it does have an impact on the tyre wear and today it was important to make use of the tyres we had saved from qualifying yesterday.” Pirelli described Vettel’s strategy as the “perfect” one thanks to being able to run in clean air at the front, managing the tyres with ease.
Vettel continued “Well done to the whole team, to everyone here, to the factory in the background and especially to those who were working on the strategy today; it worked just as we expected so we obviously got the numbers right.”
It was a contrasting race for team-mate Mark Webber, who was racing in his 2o0th start. The Aussie had a good battles up and down the field before he eventually dropped to seventh place after being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez late in the race.
Discussing his opening few stints he said “The beginning wasn’t too bad, but we lost quite a bit of time in the second stint trying to clear people. We went aggressive on the first few out laps, which meant we jumped people, but the tyres didn’t like it. That meant the second stint was a disaster really in terms of pace at the end and that loaded the other two stints up.”
However the middle of the race looked to be more promising, with hopes being high at that point in the race. “In the middle of the race I thought I could get on the podium, butt hen it was about pace management and it’s a fine line between racing and saving tyres. Others pitted a bit before me at the end, but it wasn’t enough for me to get home. If you race people hard then you run out of tyres, but if you don’t then they come through. In the end it was a pretty good battle with Lewis for both of us; neither of us hard any tyres left, but we were trying to race as best we could.”
It was certainly not the result he wanted on his 200th Grand Prix start. Again Webber struggled as Vettel looked to be a class above the rest. With the car working so well for Vettel it was hard to understand how Webber finished so far back, but tyres certainly had a lot to do with it and Webber was seemingly constantly at battle with another driver.
Discussing his two drivers race weekends, Team Principal Christian Horner said “An absolutely impeccable drive from Sebastian today. He executed two brilliant overtakes, one on Fernando and the other on Nico Rosberg. After that he dominated the race until the finish and managed his tyres brilliantly. For Mark, after racing very well in the first stint and making progress through the first round of pit stops, in the second stint he pushed very hard on the first few laps which effectively elevated him into second position. Unfortunately he couldn’t achieve the longevity in that stint, which put him under pressure for the final two.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports F1