Sebastian Vettel described today’s Bahrain Grand Prix as ‘extremely tough’ after seeing of the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus to claim his first victory of the 2012 season.
The double world champion led from the start of the race, but came under significant pressure from Raikkonen during the grand prix before guiding his Red Bull to the win.
“It was an incredible race, extremely tough,” said Vettel. “A good start was crucial and I was able to pull away from the pack, which was a big advantage as we always had to go on scrubbed tyres due to the fact we had used almost all of them in qualifying yesterday.
“Kimi was very quick and so was Grosjean. But everything seemed to work well today; strategy was good and I can only say a big thank you to the whole team and the guys in the garage. I said it yesterday, but they have done an incredible job over the last four races, the amount of work they had to do was so much.
“We asked them for this and for that, for tweaks here and there and they came with new parts, then old parts, then news parts again, back and forth and spent a lot of time in the garage trying to get the car to our liking. But we got there.
“I was very happy with qualifying, today, and all throughout the race. Kimi was fast today and it was close, but I am extremely happy and very proud of the team.”
Team-mate Mark Webber had a much less eventful race than Vettel, and enjoyed a reasonably comfortable ride to fourth place – his fourth of the season.
“It wasn't a bad start,” said the Australian. “I didn't have KERS for the first lap, so it was difficult to put pressure on Lewis, but then I got it back.
“In the first two stints, I couldn't stay with those guys – the two Lotus' and Seb – so I had to consolidate from there. Lotus has a tidy car and when everything comes together, it works well – they did a good job today and it shows how tight the Championship is; there have been four different winners.
“I got some good points today and both drivers and Red Bull Racing are doing well in the Championships. It wasn't the most exciting race for me, but it's been a good start to the Championship. I'm looking forward to getting back to racing in Europe.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulated the team, and engine suppliers Renault, on a great performance.
“Seb did a masterful job of keeping the life in the tyres and making the three stop strategy work, we made the calls at the exactly the right time,” said Horner, explaining where the team got things right today. “It was great pit work today with some super stops and a tight race with Kimi, especially approaching the final stop – it was crucial to get that right. With a great performance from the pit crew, we actually managed to win a second in the pit lane.
“It was a great result with Mark as well. It's his fourth successive fourth place finish. Again, having used more tyres yesterday than some of our competitors, they were able to profit from fresher tyres being available, but he drove a good race to finish in P4 and gain vital points for him and the team and we now lead both Championships.
“Congratulations to Lotus on their very strong performance today and double podium finish, which also means that Renault engines finished one, two, three and four.”