Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel returned to winning ways in Bahrain this afternoon by converting his first pole position of the year into a hard-fought victory ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. The German won the race by just 3.3 seconds after spending the latter half of it with Räikkönen's Lotus looming in his mirrors.
Vettel made a blistering start from pole position and ended the first lap over two seconds clear of nearest challenger Lewis Hamilton. However tt soon became clear that it would not be McLaren who would challenge Vettel for the win, but instead the two Lotus cars who were quickly making their way through the field.
Grosjean, having started seventh, had jumped to fourth on the first lap and, after overtaking Webber and Hamilton, found himself second by lap seven. Räikkönen in the sister car jumped from 11th to 7th on the first lap, before a later pitstop saw him emerge in third place, hotly pursuing his team-mate.
Despite rapidly closing on Grosjean after their first pitstops, Lotus opted not to order the Frenchman to cede position, instead requiring Räikkönen to make the pass himself. During those laps stuck behind Grosjean, Räikkönen's gap to Vettel grew by almost a tenth per lap having been closing at almost half a second per lap before then.
Räikkönen consolidated his position after he pitted on lap 24, one lap before Vettel, and despite closing to within 1 second of the German and staying there for five laps, he was unable to find a way by. Only once did the Finn get alongside, but clever defensive driving by Vettel into turn 1 forced Räikkönen to the outside where he was unable to make a move stick.
Both drivers pitted in tandem on lap 39, taking on another set of the medium-compound tyres on which Vettel was much more competitive. The Red Bull pilot was able to keep Räikkönen three seconds at bay for the majority of the stint, with the 2007 world champion never getting close enough to mount a serious challenge for the win.
A further seven seconds down the road, Räikkönen's team-mate Romain Grosjean comfortably held on to third place to score his first podium finish of his short F1 career, while giving the Lotus name its first double podium finish since the 1979 Spanish Grand Prix.
Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber took the flag almost 40 seconds adrift to take his fourth consecutive fourth place finish, while Nico Rosberg finished fifth in the Mercedes, although his position remains in doubt pending two stewards' investigations for some aggressive defensive driving during the Grand Prix.
Paul di Resta scored his joint-best F1 result in sixth after impressively making his two-stop strategy work. He crossed the line with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso breathing down his neck in seventh place, while Lewis Hamilton could only finish eighth after two lengthy pitstops cost him 13 seconds and a potential fifth place.
Rounding out the ten points scorers were Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who collects his first points of the year, and Mercedes' Michael Schumacher who took home his second point of the year in tenth.