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GP Week : Issue 73
27 F1 BAHRAIN >> Fernando Alonso walked out on to the podium arms spread wide, palms aloft. Perhaps, since his arrival in Italy, he's been taking stage tips from the Pope. Yes, there's a new papa in Maranello -- and the white smoke was provided through Turn 1 by Mark Webber's engine. "To win is always special, but to win for Ferrari is even more special," said Alonso afterwards, hardly breaking a sweat despite the 36 degree heat. "It will be difficult to forget today." It was a dull race, but it will go down in history, as Fernando sets out his stall. The most successful team of all time, and arguably the greatest driver of his era: It's a powerful combination. And a little ironic that Schumi should use this occasion to return to business. With all these new faces, he might as well have arrived in a DeLorean. Sebastian Vettel seized the limelight on Saturday with a superb pole position, but P2 man Felipe Massa and team mate Alonso were lying in wait. The Spaniard started on the clean side of the track and was able to muscle second place from Massa. "I didn't have a great start and lost an important position. Then we had to manage the temperatures and, for around 30 laps, I was not able to push as hard as I could," said Felipe. Vettel's Red Bull pulled out a five second lead before the first stops. Switching from hard to soft rubber, though, he began to struggle as Alonso brought the gap right down. Then, on lap 34, Vettel suffered a spark plug failure, robbing him of power. He eventually finished fourth, behind Lewis Hamilton who said: "This is a great result -- more than the team expected." Michael Schumacher finished sixth on his comeback, behind team mate Rosberg. He successfully fended off Jenson Button and Mark Webber. The Mercedes is not where he wants it, but he seemed satisfied with his first race in three and a half years. "I had fun out there today, especially at the beginning after I made a good start. I can live very well with sixth position. It's a good base to make progress." Schumi wasn't the only comeback of note. Massa was thrilled to be back and on form after the horrendous skull fracture that saw him on the sidelines for seven months. "It's just fantastic to be here and be competitive. This is a fantastic start to the season." Alonso couldn't have asked for more today, firing off fastest laps as the race came to its conclusion for what seemed like his own amusement. Had Massa not turned his revs down, though, he would have kept up -- and second place marks the Brazilian's best start to a season. As for Sebastian Vettel, he'll feel sore today but encouraged by his car's outright pace. The Scuderia shouldn't rest on its laurels.