Fernando Alonso completed a famous debut for Ferrari by claiming victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, and heading a 1-2 result for the Scuderia.
The Spaniard ensured that he was best placed to take advantage of the problems that beset pole winner Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages after using the outside line at turn one on the opening lap to supplant Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa into turn two. From there, the pair kept a watching brief in second and third, although Vettel initially pulled out a five-second lead.
After the pit-stops, however, the gap to the leader began to shrink at a rapid rate and, when Vettel reported a loss of power believed to have been due to an exhaust problem, Alonso was able to sweep past heading onto the start-finish straight on lap 34. Massa soon followed his team-mate through, but had no answer to the Spaniard as Alonso pulled out a 16-second victory margin in the remaining 15 laps.
While the Prancing Horse galloped on, however, the increasingly lame Vettel also fell prey to Lewis Hamilton, and only just managed to hold off countryman Nico Rosberg on the final lap to confirm fourth place.
Rosberg duly headed high-profile Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher, who marked his return with sixth place, coming home ahead of reigning world champion Jenson Button and Mark Webber, who lost a strong starting spot when his Red Bull began belching oil smoke on the opening lap. The ensuing cloud accounted for both Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil;, who touched and spun away top ten starts.
In their place, accepting the newly created scoring places in ninth and tenth, were Sutil's Force India team-mate Tonio Liuzzi and Williams veteran Rubens Barrichello. Kubica and Sutil recovered to eleventh and twelfth.
The only one of the new teams to make the chequered flag was Lotus, for whom Heikki Kovalainen finished a respectable 15th.
Full report and results to follow....