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With his first win of the season, the two-time Formula 1 world champion catapulted into the lead.
Four races into the 2012 F1 season and it looks as if we are in for an epic ride. Sebastian Vettel's first win of the season at the troubled Bahrain GP, is another case of a different winner each week and of Red Bull's familiar dominance. Vettel started from his first pole position of the season and led 55 out of the 57 race laps as his main competitors, mainly the two McLaren cars, faltered as the race dragged on. For a while Vettel was chased hard by Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus in his first competitive race since his comeback.
However, Raikkonen couldn't convert a DRS advantage into an overtaking move and had to settle for second place, over three seconds behind Vettel who jumped into the Drivers' Championship lead with 53 points. Roman Grosjean, in the second Lotus, finished third ahead of Mark Webber in the second Red Bull. Fresh from his maiden F1 win in China the previous weekend, Nico Rosberg couldn't do better than fifth with a very aggressive driving style that landed him an invitation for a meeting with the race stewards that concluded with no punishment. Paul di Resta, in a Force India car, finished sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton, who started from the first row on the grid, couldn't do better than eighth place, partially due to slow pit stops by the McLaren mechanics, a recurring team flaw. Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari earned his first two points of the season finishing 9th, ahead of his former Ferrari teammate, Michael Schumacher. "I am very happy we made it here," said Vettel after the race. "We were not quite sure how competitive we would be. I think we started the season saying that the McLaren is the fastest car by quite a bit and we've seen that on Sunday. It can be a different picture. I think they still have one of the strongest packages."
Vettel is the fourth winning driver of the season and Red Bull is the fourth winning team. This is an almost unprecedented plot in the Formula 1 scene. He leads the championship by four points ahead of Hamilton, five points from Webber and 10 points from Button and Alonso. With 16 races to go, both Rosberg (35 points) and Raikkonen (34 points) are still in the run for Vettel's crown. Photos courtesy of Formula1/© Sutton Images.