Bahrain Grand Prix: Race
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel used a three-stop strategy to win the Bahrain Grand Prix and extend his drivers championship lead to 10 points.
Vettel started from second on the grid on the P Zero White medium tyre and then completed two stints on the P Zero Orange hard tyre to seal his 28th career win by over nine seconds.
A wide variety of tyre strategies were adopted in the heat of Bahrain, with some cars stopping twice and others stopping four times. Tyre strategy also played a crucial role in the battle for the runner-up spots, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen using a two-stop strategy and his team-mate Romain Grosjean coming third with a three-stop strategy. Grosjean passed Force India’s Paul di Resta, who was also on a two-stop strategy, in the closing stages to ensure that the 2013 Bahrain podium was identical to the podium line-up last year.
Most drivers started the race on the medium tyre, with the exception of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and the other Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez, who all started on the hard tyre.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “It was fantastic to see such brilliantly close racing all the way down the field, from the start to the finish of the grand prix. To some extent this was down to the fact that there was only a small performance gap between the two compounds, meaning that we saw lots of different thinking on strategy. On this occasion, there was no clear advantage in starting on particular compound when it came to overall race time. The high temperatures – the highest we have seen all year so far – made managing thermal degradation a particular challenge, which rewarded the drivers with the best strategy and smoothest driving style. There was a clearly an issue with the tyre on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, which we are investigating at the moment. We’ve seen one sidewall cut and one at the top of the tread, and we’re currently trying to find out what caused those cuts.”
We predicted that one of the fastest strategies was to start on the medium, change to medium on lap 8, change to another set of mediums on lap 24 and finish with a set of hard tyres on lap 38.
While the winning strategy broadly followed this format, Sebastian Vettel found the perfect strategy today. He started on the medium, changed to the hard on lap 10, then went onto the hard tyre again on lap 25 and a final set of hard tyres on lap 42.