Behind the battle for the lead, Valsecchi ate into the 9s gap after passing Gutiérrez on lap 18 but was still 4s back by the end and simply too far away to make his dreams of a fourth win in Bahrain come true. Instead, he had to settle for the final podium position ahead of Gutiérrez, Nasr and Haryanto - which still translated into a 24pt advantage in the GP2 drivers championship over Razia, with Gutiérrez still another 29pts further back as the 'best of the rest.'
"It's a great result," Valsecchi said, looking far from unhappy with how his stay in Bahrain had turned out. "It was a really hard race because I had to fight all race long ... It was good fun! I really hope to go to Barcelona and to be performing well and fight with the top drivers."
Marcus Ericsson managed to wrestle his maimed iSport to seventh place at the end, just ahead of Fabio Leimer who successfully recovered a position on the final lap to claim the final point on offer for eighth by getting the better of Fabio Onidi. The Coloni driver had earlier taken advantage of the first corner incident and then put in a lovely series of overtaking moves to rise up from 20th on the grid to eighth place on lap 5.
It was another race to forget for 2011 championship-winning team Barwa Addax. Johnny Cecotto Jr. didn't make it very far beyond the first corner, while stand-in driver Dani Clos dropped to the back after making an unscheduled pit stop early the race and finally called it a day four laps before the end. Other than the Addax duo, the only retirement of the race was Arden's Simon Trummer just two laps shy of full race distance.
Jolyon Palmer did manage to complete the full distance at the end of a wretched glitch-prone race weekend, but it was down in 22nd place after the engine on his iSport car briefly cut-out at the green flag.
"Jolyon had yet another repeat of the electrical problem that has afflicted his car in both Bahrain weekends," confirmed team principal Paul Jackson after the race. "The team has changed all components available to us, and we are now in deep discussion with the engine suppliers to resolve this frustrating issue before the next round."
That next round is at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on May 11-13, as one of the support events to the F1 Grand Prix of Spain. It'll make a nice change to be away from the desert environs of Bahrain after such a lengthy stay in Sakhir - but whether the change in scenery will mean a change to the seeming domination of Davide Valsecchi and the DAMS team is another matter entirely.
Full sprint race results
and GP2 driver and team championship positions