Sebastian Vettel made it two wins in four races in 2013 with a dominant victory in Bahrain – despite Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes all setting the pace at various stages during the weekend.
Vettel led from the third lap, having quickly disposed of Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.
Even the German admitted that he hadn’t expected to be able to win so easily, given the level of competition.
“Surely I did not expect that,” said Vettel. “I was pretty dominant today, as I said, certainly not the expectation. In the beginning, it was obviously quite tight, wheel-to-wheel racing. I knew it would be crucial to get in the lead if I can because then you have a little bit of an advantage, looking after your tires and managing the race from there.
“I could feel that I was able to pull away and the medium compound felt pretty strong but then obviously we had three sets of new hards and for us the car seemed to work very well on those tires.
“Obviously I realized in the second stint that I was able to open a gap so I thought, ‘right, I’ll take my chance as much as I can to pull away.’ Because you know it can only help at the end of the race, you don’t know what is going to happen. It probably buys us some flexibility. Fortunately we never got into a pressure situation again. But, a very strong race. We were able to look after the tires and really manage every stint the best way we could..
“Yesterday wasn’t probably that straight forward but we decided to save the tires that I mentioned and they seemed to work very good today and we had a very strong race, it all worked in our direction, so very pleased.”
Crucially Vettel managed to retake Alonso on the first lap after initially losing out to him, and he was also soon past Rosberg, which allowed him to control the race.
“Well, certainly we had more pace than we expected today, which I think is related to the way that we worked with the tires. We know that the car is quick, we saw that yesterday that we were able to pull a strong qualifying lap together. Sure, it was crucial because another car in front, and especially once you start to settle into a rhythm, it’s difficult to overtake.
“I think today it was probably helped a little bit by the fact that there was quite a strong headwind down the main straight, so the advantage for DRS or for overtake was probably a little bit bigger than usual.
“At the beginning, I thought that if there was a small chance to get into the lead I have to take it because then I can take care of the tires the way I like and hopefully divert the race the way that we planned beforehand, whereas if you sit behind someone and get stuck then you struggle, you lose grip, you start to slide and the tires start to go off and you might have a different race, but surely with the pace that we had, I think we could have had a strong race, even not being in the lead immediately but I preferred it that way for sure.”
Regarding his potential title rivals, Vettel said: “It’s a long, long championship. I think if you look at the first four races Lotus is very quick, they manage the tires pretty well in the race. Ferrari is very quick, the cars haven’t changed too much compared to last year. If you look, pure performance is very tight. On a Sunday it can be different because of the way you take care of the tires; sometimes you’re in a better shape, sometimes not.
“But I think the Ferrari is an all-round car as in they’re always quick and they’ve been very competitive in the race. Mercedes is surely very quick over a lap but probably a little bit too aggressive with the tires. Yeah, a little bit surprised by McLaren but I think they will come back at some stage this year, probably already in Barcelona and that’s how it is but to point out the main rivals, I think we need to look after ourselves, make sure we score points and everything else is difficult to predict.”Formula 1, Sebastian Vettel