Sebastien Vettel took his first win of the 2012 season in fine style at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German swept the weekend with pole position, fastest lap and first in the big race, while Kimi Raikkonen got his much craved-for normal weekend, finishing second ahead of his teammate.
Practice and Qualifying
With the uneasy backdrop of Bahrain's political and social instability causing much hand-wringing, the paddock got on with the job of practice and qualifying in a business-as-usual fashion (with the exception of a shaken Force India skipping FP2 on Friday).
In the practice sessions, Nico Rosberg picked up from his successful Chinese Grand Prix campaign, with the Red Bulls and McLarens snapping at his heels.
In qualifying, Michael Schumacher didn't make it into Q2 after being pushed out of 17th by Heikki Kovalainen in the Caterham.
Schumacher's DRS had failed, robbing him of a lot of time due to drivers being able to use the device at their discretion.
The Ferraris used their softer option tyres just to stay in the game, but Massa failed again to make it into Q3 due to Australian Daniel Ricciardo making it through.
Kimi Raikkonen also fell to 11th after Perez and di Resta popped into the top 10.
Vettel stormed to a surprise pole, suggesting that Red Bull are getting on top of the RB8 with Hamilton edging Webber out of 2nd by a tenth of a second.
Ricciardo made it into 6th place on the grid, an incredible achievement for a Toro Rosso driver.
The Red Bulls leapt off the line, with Webber briefly challenging for second. Rosberg went backwards and Raikkonen muscled his way through past him and Alonso.
Schumacher made up several places in the first two laps from 22nd, having taken a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.
The big winner was Grosjean who took on Webber early, Alonso following him through. Button was hung out to dry in the dust and ended up in the middle of the pack.
Ricciardo's poor start haunted him as he never really recovered from one of a number of first-lap melees in which he damaged his front wing and Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen suffered a puncture.
Raikkonen and Massa battled for several laps, with Kimi finally taking the ascendancy, elbowing past.
Grosjean, too, had his elbows out and fired past Webber, charging after Hamilton who was nowhere near fast enough to stay with Vettel. Grosjean took him on the straight with a DRS pass.
Most of the pack pitted between lap 9 and 12, with a three stop strategy pretty much the only way to go in the desert heat.
Webber and Hamilton pitted together but Webber romped out in front as it was Lewis' turn to have a bad pit stop. He came out and locked horns with Rosberg, way off the racing line after the German aggressively swerved in front of him to block.
The incident was referred to the stewards, but no action was taken.
By mid-race, the Lotuses of Raikkonen and Grosjean were giving the frontrunners enormous grief, with Raikkonen taking second from his teammate before his second stop and drawing up behind Vettel for battle that would last until just a few laps from the end.
Rosberg tried to drive Alonso off the road in the same way as he had with Hamilton, but this time the investigation by the stewards was to come after the race.
An irate Alonso was on the radio complaining that drivers must always leave room. His appeals went unheeded in the post-race investigation and Rosberg had no case to answer to.
Williams had a rotten race. Maldonado's race finished at turn 2 after a lurid spin caused by a puncture and Senna's car developed a nasty handling problem accompanied by a vibration that worried the team enough to pull him in to retire the car.
Raikkonen's epic race continued out front as he came within two seconds of Vettel. It was looking better for the Finn as he had a new set of options waiting for him in the pits whereas the reigning champion did not.
The two drivers pitted together but there was no change at the end of pit lane after a much better stop from Red Bull, so Kimi had to pursue his rival the old-fashioned way.
The Lotus team expected to be able to catch the Red Bull but it was not to be, with Vettel taking his and Red Bull's first win, with Kimi's comeback finally bearing fruit.
Grosjean's quiet race for third ahead of Webber who seemed oddly off the pace.
"In the first two stints, I couldn't stay with those guys - the two Lotus' and Seb - so I had to consolidate from there. Lotus has a tidy car and when everything comes together, it works well," Webber said.
Webber has little to worry about, however, as he is within five points of his teammate and the championship lead and one point from Jenson Button in second.
Button's possible sixth place evaporated when his team found that he was losing tyre pressure on lap 53 but retired soon after.
Hamilton salvaged eighth place from a race destroyed by problems in the pits with the wheelnut on the left rear of the McLaren.
Paul di Resta held off Alonso to take sixth and nearly collected Rosberg who was cruising in the middle of the circuit after taking fifth in an ailing car.
With his win, Vettel vaulted to first in the championship, but admitted after the race that he is not expecting the season to get any easier.
Formula 1 returns in three weeks for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.
1. Sebastian Vettel - Germany - Red Bull-Renault - 1hr 35m 10.990s
2. Kimi Raikkonen - Finland - Lotus-Renault - +0m 03.3s
3. Romain Grosjean - France - Lotus-Renault - +0m 10.1s
4. Mark Webber - Australia - Red Bull-Renault - +0m 38.7s
5. Nico Rosberg - Germany - Mercedes-Mercedes - +0m 55.4s
6. Paul di Resta - Britain - Force India-Mercedes - +0m 57.5s
7. Fernando Alonso - Spain - Ferrari-Ferrari - +0m 57.8s
8. Lewis Hamilton - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes - +0m 58.9s
9. Felipe Massa - Brazil - Ferrari-Ferrari - +1m 04.9s
10. Michael Schumacher - Germany - Mercedes-Mercedes - +1m 11.4s
11. Sergio Perez - Mexico - Sauber-Ferrari - +1m 12.7s
12. Nico Hulkenberg - Germany - Force India-Mercedes - +1m 16.5s
13. Kamui Kobayashi - Japan - Sauber-Ferrari - +1m 30.3s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne - France - Toro Rosso-Ferrari - +1m 33.7s
15. Daniel Ricciardo - Australia - Toro Rosso-Ferrari - +1 lap
16. Vitaly Petrov - Russia - Caterham-Renault - +1 lap
17. Heikki Kovalainen - Finland - Caterham-Renault - +1 lap
18. Jenson Button - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes - +2 laps [DNF]
19. Timo Glock - Germany - Marussia -Cosworth - +2 laps
20. Pedro de la Rosa - Spain - HRT-Cosworth - +2 laps
21. Narain Karthikeyan - India - HRT-Cosworth - +2 laps
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