• SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 22: Sebastian Vettel (right) of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads the field to the first corner at the start of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 22, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany leads the field after the start during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads from Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Lotus during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 22, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Hassan Hammar)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads from Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Lotus during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 22, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 21: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing drives on his way to finishing first during qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 21, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 21: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing drives during qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 21, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers his car during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Hassan Hammar)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 20: Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 20, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car to claim pole position during the qualifying session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, April 21, 2012. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place here on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • A view of the track during the qualifying session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, April 21, 2012. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place here on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany crosses the finish line to win the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 22: Race winner Sebastian Vettel (2nd left) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium with second placed Kimi Raikkonen (left) of Finland and Lotus, third placed Romain Grosjean (2nd right) of France and Lotus and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (right) following the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 22, 2012 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates in the paddock with the trophy after winning the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Bahraini children run with a national flag past a wall painted with anti-F1 graffiti Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Barbar, Bahrain, west of the capital of Manama. Bahraini opposition groups claimed Saturday that a man was killed during clashes with security forces, threatening to sharply escalate the Gulf nation's unrest as officials struggle under the world's spotlight as hosts of the Formula One Grand Prix. Authorities opened an investigation in a bid to diffuse tensions. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
  • A Bahraini anti-government protester is seen in front of a sign objecting to Bahrain hosting a Formula One Grand Prix during a march organized by opposition parties Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Diraz, Bahrain, west of the capital of Manama. Bahraini opposition groups claimed Saturday that a man was killed during clashes with security forces, threatening to sharply escalate the Gulf nation's unrest as officials struggle under the world's spotlight as hosts of the Formula One Grand Prix. Authorities opened an investigation in a bid to diffuse tensions. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
  • Bahraini anti-government protesters carry anti-F1 political cartoons and flags with images of people who have died in earlier unrest Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Diraz, Bahrain, west of the capital of Manama. Bahraini opposition groups claimed Saturday that a man was killed during clashes with security forces, threatening to sharply escalate the Gulf nation's unrest as officials struggle under the world's spotlight as hosts of the Formula One Grand Prix. Authorities opened an investigation in a bid to diffuse tensions. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
At what point does a political issue become a moral one? And at what point, if any, should motor racing enter that debate? These are the questions that Formula 1 and all those involved have wrestled with since the Bahrain Grand Prix was put back on the calendar for this year.

Some argued that sporting competition should rise above such issues. Others decried the cold-heartedness of holding something as glitzy as an F1 race where government forces are brutally cracking down on protestors – particularly when the race itself is orchestrated by said government.

One way or another, however, the grand prix took place this weekend in Bahrain, entering the record books as the fourth round in this year's championship. Keep reading to find out how it unfolded.


Sebastian Vettel dominated last season's Saturdays to take all but four pole positions on his way to clinching his second consecutive world championship, and he took the pole again this weekend at Sakhir. Mark Webber landed his RBR in third to stagger the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in second and fourth, respectively. Last week's race winner Nico Rosberg placed his Mercedes in fifth, just ahead of Toro Rosso's rookie Daniel Ricciardo, who impressed with a sixth-place qualifying time as the quickest Ferrari-powered car of the day.

Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Paul di Resta (Force India) took the remaining spots in the top ten, with Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) relegated to eleventh, fourteenth and eighteenth places on the starting grid, respectively. Schumacher was bumped behind Pastor Maldonado at the back of the grid when both swapped gearboxes in exchange for five-place qualifying penalties.



After a clean formation lap, Vettel lead the field into the first turn, with Hamilton and Webber in tow. Behind them, however, was Grosjean in the Lotus, skipping past Ricciardo, Rosberg and Button to take fourth position off the line. Alonso similarly charged from ninth to fifth, followed by Button, who dropped from fourth to sixth. Raikkonen also charged from seventh to eleventh off the line, with Bruno Senna up to tenth from fifteenth.

By the second lap Schumacher had already advanced from twenty-second to sixteenth, but his teammate Rosberg fared far worse, dropping from fifth to ninth. By lap 3, Massa had already advanced from fourteenth on the starting grid to pass Raikkonen for seventh, only for Raikkonen to retake a few laps later.

Meanwhile, up front, Vettel was opening up his lead in similar style to last year, while the Lotus duo advanced in the ranks behind him. Grosjean passed Webber for third on only the fourth lap, and then took second from Hamilton on lap 7.



Proving the team's form as well as his own after two years away from F1, Raikkonen followed suit and passed both Button and Alonso to claim fifth place, then advanced to take third from Webber.

By the midway point, Raikkonen passed his junior teammate for second place, and then proceeded to whittle down Vettel's lead. With Button's puncture dropping him to thirteenth and elevating a charging Schumacher into the points as the only dramatic action to speak of in the second half of the race, Vettel held on to claim his first victory in defense of his title this season. In doing so, he became the fourth winner in as many races this season.

More impressive, however, were the Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean – a champion and a relative rookie – who took second and third, respectively, to round out the podium and show that the Enstone team that won world championships under the Benetton and Renault banners is still a serious contender. Webber took fourth, followed by Rosberg in fifth, Paul di Resta in sixth for Force India, Alonso in seventh, Hamilton eighth, Massa ninth and Schumacher tenth.



Subsequently, Vettel and Red Bull are once again in the lead to defend their titles, Hamilton and McLaren in second in both standings as well as Webber and Button sit third and fourth. The next race (and the European stage of the championship) doesn't start again until the middle of May when the series sails for Barcelona to put the controversy of Bahrain behind it.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Pdexter
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great to see those Lotus colors and even more happy to see Raikkonen on podium. Though Bahrain did live up to it's name again being boring. First half was surprisingly good for Bahrain. It's 3 weeks till the European tour of F1 starts. Will be interesting how the likes of Ferrari have moved forward on that time and will the messy Mercedes, McLaren, Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari group start to separate from each other.
      DeeZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      glad to see the real kimi is back.....
      da.kid1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice race, though i get why the people of Bahrain are pissed.
      Snaeper
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Raikkonen charged from seventh to eleventh off the line." What, did he slam on the brakes?
      Justin B.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Vettel won, yeah. Now back to more important matters like how many points McLaren threw away. Never gonna win either championship performing like that.
      Junkyard Willie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whitmarsh should be fired for today's performance, that was just pathetic for the pit crew and­ strategies. This is the firth race and McLaren just continue to screw up, they have the best drivers and the best car this year but yet Whitmarsh keep allowing the pit crew to screw up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        testrage
        • 3 Years Ago
        Spoken like someone with absolutely no understanding of the region or the country. Have you lived there? It's true that the current ruler is not as liberal as his father was but right now he's only about 30% of the problem. Iran is the rest.
      Redline
      • 3 Years Ago
      Keep this political BS out of F1 please.
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