2013 Bahrain Grand Prix: Seb on Song in the Desert

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BAHRRAIN – Sebastian Vettel scored his second consecutive Bahrain Grand Prix victory with a dominant drive to the flag set up in the opening two laps of an action-packed race. Mark Webber, meanwhile, finished his 200th grand prix in seventh place after narrowly missing out on fifth due to fading tires in the final laps.

Starting from second, Sebastian was ambushed into turn one by third-on-the-grid Fernando Alonso, who passed around the outside. Seb didn’t take the loss lying down and he was soon back into P2, a KERS-assisted run at Alonso paying off as pair dived into turn six.

The next target was pole winner and race leader Nico Rosberg. The pair dueled through the next lap but again Seb squeezed past the Mercedes driver down the inside on the exit of turn four.

Thereafter it was all about building a gap and managing the race. By the end of his second stint the defending champion had built a sufficient cushion to stop on lap 25 and emerge in the lead by a comfortable margin.

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, working a two-stop strategy, briefly threatened in the last third of the race but Vettel was always in control and managed the gap in the closing stages to finish 9.111 seconds clear of the Finn. Raikkonen’s Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean finished third.

“It was good fun at the beginning with some very tight wheel to wheel racing,” said Sebastian afterwards. “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! It’s important to get to the front; we saw at the last race that if you get stuck behind someone then it does have an impact on tire wear and today it was important to make use of the tires we had saved from qualifying yesterday.

“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 added. “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.”

Mark’s 200th grand prix was defined by a furious battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton over the last dozen laps.

His first stint went according to plan and by lap 21 and his first stop the Australian was in P2 behind Sebastian. A trickier second stint saw him having to clear a host of slower cars, however, and the effort compromised his progress. In the final laps he climbed to P5 and soon found himself under pressure from a hard-charging Hamilton. The final handful of laps became a monumental and enthralling battle in which no quarter was asked or given.

On the final lap, however, Mark eventually had to give way, and as his tires faded badly he was passed by both Hamilton and McLaren’s Sergio Perez.

“The beginning wasn’t too bad, but we lost quite a bit of time in the second stint trying to clear people,” Mark said. “We went aggressive on the first few out laps, which meant we jumped people, but the tires 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.

“In the middle of the race I thought I could get on the podium, but then it was about pace management and it’s a fine line between racing and saving tires. 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 tires, 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 had any tires left, but we were trying to race as best we could.”

Team Principal Christian Horner later hailed Seb’s drive as “absolutely impeccable”. “Sebastian executed two brilliant overtakes, one on Fernando and the other on Nico Rosberg and after that he dominated the race until the finish and managed his tires brilliantly,” he said.

“The strategy worked perfectly with the tires that we conserved in qualifying, which ended with a dominant win on a three-stop strategy.

“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,” he added. “Unfortunately, he couldn’t achieve the longevity in that stint, which put him under pressure for the final two.

“His last stop put him in the range of those on two-stops, and then it was a matter of making it to the end. Despite fighting fantastically well and racing very hard with Lewis, he ran out of rear tires before the end of the race, but still got some valuable points.”

 

TEAM REACTIONS

Car 1 Sebastian Vettel, Finish Position: 1st, Start Position: 2nd
“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! It’s important to get to the front; we saw at the last race that if you get stuck behind someone then it does have an impact on tire wear and today it was important to make use of the tires we had saved from qualifying yesterday. 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. 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.”

Car 2 Mark Webber, Finish Position: 7th, Start Position: 7th
“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 tires 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. In the middle of the race I thought I could get on the podium, but then it was about pace management and it’s a fine line between racing and saving tires. 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 tires, 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 had any tires left, but we were trying to race as best we could.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal
“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 tires brilliantly. The strategy worked perfectly with the tires that we conserved in qualifying, which ended with a dominant win on a three-stop strategy. 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. His last stop put him in the range of those on two-stops, and then it was a matter of making it to the end. Despite fighting fantastically well and racing very hard with Lewis, he ran out of rear tires before the end of the race, but still got some valuable points.”

Thierry Salvi (Renault)
“Today Seb and the team called a perfect race. All the same it wasn’t easy; racing here is tough, with a lack of grip, high temperatures and the humidity was more than expected. Delivering the right engine settings for these conditions and fuel consumption rate while maintaining stability is a careful balance but everything seemed to work well today, although it was a shame Mark lost a couple of positions on the last lap. It’s the 36th win for the Red Bull Racing-Renault partnership, and the 154th for a Renault engine, plus a clean sweep of the podium for the RS27, so there is a lot to be happy about today."

 

 

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Issued by Infiniti