Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was left to reflect on the 'cruel luck' that denied Sebastian Vettel the chance to fight for victory in the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The German had qualified on pole position for the first round of the 2010 F1 season and led the race through the early stages, pulling out a lead of around five seconds over the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso prior to making his one and only pit stop.

However, at the start of the 34th lap, Vettel was hit by an exhaust issue which saw him lose power and he could do nothing to prevent Alonso, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton passing him before the finish.

"It was cruel luck with Sebastian today," Horner said. "He drove a great race and was pulling away at the front. We had a very good pit stop with him and he was controlling the lead comfortably until lap 33, when he had a sudden loss of power. He was then powerless to defend to the Ferraris and Hamilton, but he drove extremely well to retain fourth position.

"It gives us valuable points, but ultimately it's very disappointing to lose such a great opportunity for a victory."

Vettel himself was also disappointed to miss out on a win which would have given him the ideal start to his title bid, although he conceded that it was still vital to have put points on the board despite the problem.

"It's a pity today," he said. "It was positive all weekend, except for the exhaust failure. From Saturday morning onwards, we were one of the quickest cars on track in all conditions. We had control of the race today and we were on top of the strategy - everything was running smoothly. I think at every point I knew how my tyres were, so we kept good control of the tyres and brakes.

"At some stage, I think about 15 to 20 laps from the end, you could see my lap times were getting slower. It seems something mechanical broke, luckily we could continue and finished fourth, but we should have won today. It cost us a lot, but we've got twelve important points."