Sebastian Vettel's first win of 2013 was hard fought and contentious, but the German had no such worries as he cantered to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Despite being squeezed out of second spot as the field headed into turn one, Vettel was barely troubled during the course of 57 laps where the main action took place further down the order.
The German made a good start, but his challenge for first place was firmly rebuffed by polesitter Nico Rosberg, who closed the gap between his Mercedes and the pit-wall and forced Vettel back into the clutches of Fernando Alonso, who duly claimed second place around the outside of turn one. The world champion was not to be denied, however, catching Alonso unawares with a move into turn five.
Rosberg, meanwhile, was unable to break away while his pursuers were squabbling, and Vettel took another look at his countryman heading into turn one second time around. Once again, the Mercedes held firm, but it was clear that Rosberg was already in trouble with his tyres, and it only took another lap for Vettel to assume control, passing the polesitter into turn three.
Although Alonso was also quickly by Rosberg, taking second spot under the dual influence of KERS and DRS down the main straight at the end of same lap, any hope of a battle royale between Ferrari
and Red Bull
was dashed, not only by Vettel's early pace, but also by Alonso's rear wing, which refused to return to its closed position after the DRS was activated.
Pitting at the end of lap seven, the Spaniard combined his first tyre stop with a hasty re-setting of the offending element but, when the wing jammed again the next time it was used, the ensuing stop effectively ended any hope of a follow-up to his success in Shanghai a week ago.
Vettel's progress at the front was interrupted only by his own pit-stops, the first allowing Paul di Resta to lead the grand prix for Force India, but the second and third only allowing his pursuers to close the gap for a while. Rejoining in front both times, it appeared that only Vettel or fate could affect the result and the German duly cruised to his 28th career victory, moving him ahead of fellow three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart in the process.
di Resta's spell at the front lasted just four laps, but the Scot was enjoying his best showing of the season as Force India
continued to build on a strong weekend. di Resta was flying the orange, green and white colours solo, however, as team-mate Adrian Sutil, who had started alongside the Scot on row three of the grid, had made contact with Felipe Massa
at turn four on the opening lap and had to limp back to the pits. Although he rejoined after repairs to his car, the German was never a factor and eventually finished an unrepresentative 13th.