Vettel secures Bahrain Grand Prix victory
It had to happen sooner or later, but Sebastian Vettel has warned the rest of the grid that Red Bull have sorted out their problems and will take some stopping for the rest of the season.
The two-time defending world champion was speaking after finally getting his title tilt on track by winning the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix. The gung-ho German held off a stern challenge from Kimi Raikkonen over the closing laps to land his first race win of the season.
And having offered up some misguided words on the troubles in the Gulf kingdom in the lead-up to the race, the 24-year-old stuck to talking about what he knows best after taking the chequered flag at the Sakhir Circuit.
And it wouldn’t have made for great listening for the rest of the paddock as he predicted his Red Bull outfit will only get better.
“It’s a very tight season. The cars are very close to each other. Small things can make a huge difference,” said Vettel, who moves into top spot in the championship. “We started the season with McLaren as the best car by far but we have seen Sunday can be a different picture. I think they still have one of strongest packages.
“[The last race in] China was a very good lesson for us, driving two packages,” he added.
“For here we focused on our new package and on pushing that forward. I’m just happy for now. I don’t care what happens in the next race (the Spanish GP), at least not today.”
While he might have meant that at the time, there’s little doubting his 22nd race win will have focused Vettel’s mind on grabbing control of a season that continues to surprise. Not least with Romain Grosjean coming in third for his first ever podium.
So far this season there have been four different winners of the four GPs and, with only 10 points separating the top five drivers in the championship, it’s still anyone’s guess as to who will be top come the end of the campaign.
All teams have had their share of good and bad moments already with yesterday’s race being particularly dark for the McLaren men. Brit speedster Lewis Hamilton finished back in eighth after two nightmare pitstops while team-mate Jenson Button retired with a lap to go.
There was little shock off the track with the main grandstand half empty, and few spectators to be seen elsewhere at a circuit following days of problems in the run-up to the race. But the action on it once again did little to stick to the expected script, bar Vettel winning from pole position.
The two Lotus cars both pushed the Red Bull star hard over the closing stages, former world champion Raikkonen giving Vettel a lot to think about as the race approached the chequered flag.
And although the Grand Prix marked a return to the podium after a three-year gap, the flying Finn cut a dejected figure afterwards.
“I think we gave ourselves a chance but I’m disappointed I didn’t manage to win it,” he said.
“I made a small mistake at the beginning, lost one place to Ferrari, and I had to get that place back. In the end we were not fast enough to win.”
The next race takes place in Montmelo on May 13.