Four Renault-powered drivers finished in the top four of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel secured the first win of the season for Red Bull Racing-Renault, 3.3secs ahead of Lotus F1 Team-Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Mark Webber secured fourth for Red Bull Racing-Renault, giving the RS27 a clean sweep of the top four; the first time Renault engines have done so since the 1997 Luxembourg GP when Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Renault) finished ahead of Jean Alesi (Benetton-Renault), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) and Gerhard Berger (Benetton).
Caterham F1 Team finished with Vitaly Petrov 16th and Heikki Kovalainen 17th after the latter suffered a first lap puncture. Unfortunately, in the 150th race for the Williams-Renault partnership, both Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado retired. Bruno’s race came to an end on lap 54 due to a mechanical issue unrelated to the engine, while Pastor suffered a puncture on lap 25 that caused damage to the bodywork.
Sebastian’s win is the 28th for the Red Bull Racing-Renault package and takes Renault’s tally of wins in F1 to 143. Sebastian now leads the drivers’ championship from Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. Red Bull has also moved to the top of the constructors’ championship, with a nine point advantage over McLaren, while Lotus F1 Team has gained three positions to sit in third overall.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
It was a fantastic race for Renault Sport F1, with the top four positions all taken by drivers powered by the Renault RS27 engine. It’s the first time we’ve had all three positions on the podium since the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix and the first time in 15 years that we’ve had the top four finishes.
The Bahrain International Circuit is a unique challenge; it’s dusty, very arid and tyre wear is high, meaning fuel consumption can be unpredictable. Today we also had weather conditions we hadn’t seen over the weekend and there was even some rain in the air before the start, which added in another variable.
This makes it one of the harder races of the year for engines and it’s a big testament to the hard work of everyone at Viry-Châtillon to have put in the hours to get this result, particularly after the tough start of the season. It is also a testament to the professionalism of our track teams to manage an internal ‘Renault’ battle so well.
Caterham again showed some good pace, with Vitaly fighting with the Toro Rossos. It was a shame Heikki could not take advantage of his excellent starting position, but the relative performance of the team is improving and we now go back to the more normal circuits of Europe with a few developments in the pipeline.
Unfortunately the 150th race for the Williams-Renault package didn’t go exactly to plan, but the race pace was again pretty good and if Pastor had not had the tyre failure we could have got another Renault-powered car into the points. We’ve now got a three week gap until Spain and a test in Mugello so there’s a lot of chance to keep this momentum going.