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GP Week : Issue 150
Scotland’s Paul di Resta seemingly achieved the impossible in Sakhir on Sunday by scoring his joint-best F1 finish to date on a risky two-stop strategy, in a race that was otherwise dominated by huge tyre wear. Di Resta took the chequered flag in sixth place having been the only one of the 20 finishers to pit only twice. It was a fitting result for the team that had been rattled by a close encounter with anti-government protesters as they made their way from track to hotel on Wednesday night, leading them to miss Friday’s second practice session to avoid night-time travel through the troubled country. “The result today is massive for us. The team did an amazing job all weekend, the strategy came together and the pit-stops were perfect,” began di Resta after yesterday’s race. “We knew it would be a big ask to make only two stops and it was a close run thing at the end because my tyres completely went away on the final lap.” He finished the race with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso breathing down his neck, but the Spaniard just about ran out of road to steal a well-earned sixth from the Force India driver. “I had Fernando very close behind me, but I saved a bit of KERS coming out of the final corner and managed to stay ahead,” Paul continued. “Apart from that, the car has been awesome. So we go away from here as a very happy team with a few weeks to reflect on things and determined to arrive in Barcelona in fighting form.” Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel returned to winning ways in Bahrain and will take a four-point lead into next months’ Spanish Grand Prix ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. A number of small updates to the German’s RB8 for the race allowed him to fight at the very front for the first time this year, before holding off a stern challenge from Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen to take the victory and the 25 points on offer. Vettel took pole on Saturday and had the fastest race lap on Sunday to add to his weekend’s achievements, thereby scoring his fourth ever F1 ‘hat-trick’ of pole, win and fastest lap. He led every lap of the race, other than during the pitstops, and although the first half of the race was largely pressure-free, Raikkonen kept him honest throughout the final 30 laps. “It was extremely tough to keep Kimi behind us,” said Vettel after the race. “Once he was very close and I thought he would get more than just one shot but it turned out to be enough and in the end I was even pulling away a little bit and I could control the last stint. All in all, very happy and very proud of the team.” So intense was the pressure from Raikkonen that Vettel didn’t have enough fuel on board to complete an in-lap to the pits after reaching the chequered flag. He was told over the radio to stop at the pit exit, where he was joined seconds later by Nico Rosberg who was similarly low on fuel. “I had some company down there! I think Nico stopped as well. We were probably surprised by the pace we went in the race,” he explained. “Obviously Lotus were pushing us so we couldn't afford to lift but it was enough.” DI RESTA TWO-STOPS TO JOINT-BEST F1 FINISH VETTEL BACK TO WINNING WAYS Takes championship lead for f irst time in 2012 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BAHRAIN