Vettel back on top after first win of season in Bahrain but steeled for close campaign

WORLD champion Sebastian Vettel expects the title lead to change hands several more times this season after victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix propelled him to the top of the drivers’ standings.

Red Bull’s Vettel edged out Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen to claim his first win of the year as the race passed without disruption, despite violent clashes between police and demonstrators in the Gulf kingdom. British pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button endured frustrating afternoons, the former dropping to eighth after two pit-lane disasters and the latter retiring with just a lap to go.

“It’s a very tight season, the cars are very close to each other and small things can make a huge difference,” said Vettel. “I think we started the season saying the McLaren is the fastest car by quite a bit and we’ve seen that on Sunday it can be a different picture.”

Vettel’s victory swept him to his familiar position at the top of the standings, where he leads McLaren’s Hamilton by four points.

Raikkonen’s Lotus colleague Romain Grosjean took third and Mark Webber fourth, while Paul di Resta was sixth for Force India, losing a place to Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in the dying stages.

Championship standings
S Vettel, Red Bull 53 points

L Hamilton, McLaren 49

M Webber, Red Bull 48

J Button, McLaren 43

F Alonso, Ferrari 43

N Rosberg, Mercedes 35