Once again, a round of the 2013 F1 World Championship started without a favourite for victory, with questions over tyres and a grid altered by the imposition of penalties.
In the end, however, it was won at a canter by one of the less favoured runners....
Once he had overcome polesitter Nico Rosberg and a brief interruption of his progress by Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel hardly looked back. The pace of his Red Bull, not recognised by the experts pre-race, allowed the German to pull inexorably away from the pack, with the only subsequent change of leader coming during his first stop for tyres.
Having regained the advantage, Vettel was able to pull out enough of an advantage to make two further stops without being threatened and eventually won by nearly ten seconds after being told to back off in the closing stages.
While it initially looked as though Alonso would provide the threat, problems for the Spaniard allowed Lotus to take up the mantle, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completing an identical podium to twelve months ago. The Finn again made his tyres last as well as anyone - even questioning the team's timing of his final stop - as he came home second.
Team-mate Grosjean produced a drive similar to that of Raikkonen'a from 2012, as he overcame the handicap of missing the cut in Q2 by using his extra set of tyres to make progress through the field in the closing stages.
The Frenchman's final victim was Force India's Paul di Resta, who had appeared on course for a maiden F1 podium until the more suitably-tyred Grosjean powered past with five laps to go. Fourth place, however, still mirrored di Resta's best result in the top flight.
Another Briton filled fifth place as Lewis Hamilton overcame a five-place gearbox penalty that dropped him to ninth on the grid, and a Mercedes whose performance transformed midway through the race.
Fifth place was achieved on the final lap as Hamilton hauled in Mark Webber's Red Bull, and the Australian also fell victim to a feisty Sergio Perez, who produced his most combatative performance since his high-profile move to Woking. The Mexican went wheel-to-wheel with team-mate Jenson Button before breaking free of the Briton in the late stages, and passed Webber just a matter of corners from home as McLaren showed some semblance of improvement.
Alonso, meanwhile, overcame two unscheduled pit-stops to reset an errant DRS system after it failed in the early laps. Although he combined the first stop with a tyre change, the second dropped the Shanghai winner to 17th on the road, but he overcame the handicap of not being able to use DRS for the remainder of the race to come home eighth.
While Pastor Maldonado came close to opening Williams' account, and Nico Hulkenberg did his best with a Sauber that was curiously off the pace, the most notable performance outside the top ten came from Caterham and Charles Pic, the combination finding half a second in the course of the weekend to end Marussia's run of success in 'division three'.
So who impressed you most in Sakhir? To have your say, simply cast your vote from the choice below....
F1 Driver of the Day: Bahrain Grand Prix
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