By Alex Kapadia
Tyres held the key to Sebastian Vettel’s victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix, after he selected a three-stop strategy to clinch his 22nd career win.
The Red Bull driver started off using the P Zero Yellow soft tyres, and then moved onto the P Zero White medium after 11 laps before completing his final stints on the P Zero Yellow soft followed by the P Zero White medium.
But it was Lotus who caused a sensation, with Kimi Raikkonen taking second place, followed by his team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “This was certainly a very technically challenging race, on a circuit that we had never experienced in racing conditions before. Nonetheless, we chose to bring our soft compound together with the medium in order to provide plenty of opportunities for strategy.
“Although degradation was a factor in this race, which was already evident from the tactics adopted in qualifying, the tyres stood up extremely well to the demands that were placed on them.
“During the closing stages of the race, the priority for the drivers was to ensure that the tyres didn’t fall off ‘the cliff’ of performance: a task that they all managed very well.
“The closeness of the racing this year, during which we have narrowed the performance gap between our compounds, is reflected in the fact that we’ve seen four different winners in four races.
“It was also a great result for Lotus with two cars on the podium – and the first podium for our former test driver Romain Grosjean, who was with us when we tested at Bahrain in 2010: the experience was clearly useful to him. As for Kimi, he seems to have made the transition from our rally tyres to our P Zero race tyres pretty well!”