The difference in fuel consumption between the best on the Formula One grid and the worst could have set up a more exciting finish to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, according to pit-lane sources.

Of course, the claim remains hypothetical after polesitter and early leader Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull went lame, but BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz believes that the German and Fernando Alonso could have been nose-to-tail in the final few laps thanks to their respective tyre management abilities.

Alonso made no secret of the fact that he was trying to preserve his tyres for a late assault on Vettel [see story here], while the German's rear rubber showed signs of increasing wear, prompting Kravitz to claim that the final ten laps - when the two cars would have been running on roughly similar fuel levels - would have been more closely fought than much of the race as a whole.

The new 2010 regulations have been panned for producing a bland opening round, devoid of action on track, but the fact that Red Bull allegedly went to the grid with ten kilogrammes less fuel that the more potent Ferrari adds weight to Kravitz's proposition. He cites Williams' technical director Sam Michael as confirming that Renault, which supplies Red Bull with engines, has the most fuel efficient V8 on the grid, with Ferrari potentially the worst in the consumption stakes.

According to Michael's calculations, reported on planet-f1.com, Vettel would have been able to open out nearly ten seconds over his pursuers over the course of the 49-lap race. However, when tyre wear is factored in, the gap would have closed in the final stages, as both cars whittled their load down to roughly the same amount for the sprint to the flag.

"Had Vettel not had his problem, we would likely have enjoyed a fight for the lead between Alonso, who had been nursing his tyres throughout the race, and Vettel, with his rear tyres starting to fade," he argued, "At any other stage of the race, it would not have been a fair fight, as Vettel would have been significantly lighter on fuel, but we should bear this in mind in the inevitable debates about the first race being boring."

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