Bahrain Grand Prix as it happened

Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel wins the Bahrain GP, with Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on the podium.

22 April 2012 Last updated at 17:01

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As it happened

  1. 1700: 
    CHEQUERED FLAG

    The Chain is ringing out on BBC One and BBC HD which means it's time to watch the race replay. Enjoy the race with Jake and DC and then recharge your batteries ready for Spain. Remember I'm back on Friday 11 May at 0830 BST for live coverage of free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. Yep, you'll be able to watch live pictures while devouring your Cornflakes. I hope to see you then.

  2.  

    Fernando Alonso on Twitter: "Another good battles and score some good points, the results in front have helped for the championship! Meeting of engineers now ;))"

  3. 1655: 

    Time to bring this marathon five hour live text commentary to a close. Thanks for your company and splendid contributions. It's been a blast. Sebastian Vettel finally got himself back on the top step of the podium as well as taking the championship lead - but I'm hopeful there's still plenty of life in this battle yet.

  4.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Neil Duncan on Twitter: "Looking forward to extended highlights of #BahrainGP before the roast chicken! Avoided the results thankfully, can enjoy!"

  5.  

    BBC Radio 5 live's pit lane reporter Jennie Gow: "Michael Schumacher critical of Pirelli tyres and says he is not happy not being able to race but constantly having to manage tyres." You can follow Jennie on Twitter.

  6.  

    Force India on Twitter: "Outstanding team performance and super job by @pauldirestaf1 to grab sixth place in Bahrain. @NicoHulkenberg came home in P12."

  7.  

    McLaren driver Jenson Button, who retired: "My final stint was a long one and if I hadn't struck trouble, I reckon things would have got quite interesting in the final laps. Some drivers had pushed harder at the start of that stint, but I'd been looking after my tyres. But in the last few laps, the car sounded really noisy. I think the initial problem was an exhaust failure, then my puncture, and then a differential failure; so I had to retire."

  8.  

    McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished eighth: "There are good times and bad times in motor racing. I guess this was just one of those days. By rights we should have been fighting to finish in the top four, but it didn't work out like that in the end. The delays in the pits were a big part of that, of course. For the driver sitting in the car, that's always frustrating, because you're just waiting and there's nothing you can do to help."

  9.  

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who finished fifth: "I had a pretty bad first lap, but after that I was able to recover and get the most of our race. We had a good strategy and the pace of the car was pretty strong compared to the start of the season, although it was difficult to make progress as there were a lot of cars fighting for the same positions.."

  10.  

    Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, who finished 10th: "Considering where I started the race, it's a positive that I was able to fight up to 10th place, score a point and finish a dry race this season. The tyres obviously played a large part in the race, and in the conditions here, we had to adapt the driving style to keep the tyres together."

  11.  

    Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn: "That was a tough but ultimately rewarding race today. Nico didn't get the best of starts and lost some positions which made the early part of the race difficult, but he had a very good drive to fight his way back up to fifth place. Michael did well to recover a point in 10th place, considering that he started at the back of the grid in 22nd. We saw again today that if you get the car right on the day, it makes a great deal of difference, with Red Bull and Lotus clearly getting their cars in better shape than we did."

  12. 1618: 

    There may be three weeks until the F1 season gets back up and running, but there will be no such break for the teams. Aside from their factories working overtime to build new updates for their cars, the teams will have to prepare for a three-day test in Mugello, Italy which runs from 1 to 3 May. McLaren have announced that Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will not be driving, with test drivers Oliver Turvey and Gary Paffett getting behind the wheel instead.

  13.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Adam McGregor on Twitter:\u200f "OK, come to terms with it now. Well done Vettel, let your smug index finger wave for now. Please anyone else win in Barcelona."

  14. 1613: 

    The sun has set and the moon is shining brightly out in Bahrain but the paddock is still full of activity. It's lit up by red lights which are wrapped around palm trees with teams busy packing equipment into containers ready for the trip back to Europe.

  15.  

    Force India Paul di Resta, who finished sixth: "We had a difficult start to the season but we said if we could pick up any points at the flyaways, that was job done. Given we've finished seventh in Malaysia and sixth here on performance, we can be very happy. Hopefully when we bolt on a bit more downforce in Barcelona, we can finish where we have in Bahrain."

  16.  

    Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen on Twitter: "Shame about the puncture today on the first lap, otherwise everything going well throughout the race. Great to see Kimi back on the podium!"

  17.  

    Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo: "That was not what I was hoping for after starting from sixth on the grid. The opening lap changed my whole race. My initial launch off the line wasn't great and after that I seemed to go backwards, which made for a very frustrating afternoon. I had a good chance to have a strong race, but losing all those places at the start cost me dear. I need to be hard on myself now and find out what I did wrong to make sure I don't do it again. It was a race to forget."

  18. 1603: 

    Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo qualified an impressive sixth for the best result of his career, but he went backwards in the race and finished 15th. Here's what he has to say...

  19. 1600: 

    An exciting start to the season has seen four different drivers triumph in the opening four races. When did that last happen, I hear you cry? Well, I can tell you it was 2003. McLaren pair David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen won the first two, before Giancarlo Fisichella claimed the third and Michael Schumacher the fourth. The run ended in round five when Schumacher won again.

  20.  

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner: "A great performance from the whole team today, they have managed to get the win. Sebastian did the right things at the right time and made the right calls. Stategy-wise it was absolutely fantastic."

  21.  

    McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh on his team's disappointing performance: "We lost a lot of time and places for Lewis [during the stops]. More of a concern is generally we weren't quick enough. The frustration gets compounded when you don't perform in during the stops. Ultimately, we have got to look at technique and how we do it. These guys volunteer to put themselves in the spotlight. There is an enormous amount of stress on them. We change him for the last stop because he was stressed but it's our job to protect them. Things go wrong and that's life. We need to makes sure we pull together."

  22. 1551: 

    Sebastian Vettel has slipped into a T-shirt and some shorts ready for the team victory picture in front of their team motorhome. He hugs his boss Christian Horner and then takes his place as centre of attention with his shiny cup. That is one very happy German. That's one of the first times we've seen him smile all season.

  23. 1546: 

    I'm quite excited about the start of the European season, not least because it will see the first appearance of the team's trucks and hospitality units. Will Red Bull still have their sensational Energy Station? Will Ferrari have stepped up their game in terms of their units? Will McLaren still have their spaceship-style motorhome?

  24. 1542: 

    We will have live coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya which begins on Friday 11 May. First practice starts at 0900 BST and will be live on the Red Button and this very website. I'll be live with a text commentary from 0830 BST.

  25. 1536: 

    Is the beginning of another Sebastian Vettel run of victories? Can McLaren fight back after a miserable run of form in Bahrain? Will Mercedes show that Bahrain was a blip and China wasn't a flash in the pan? Well you'll just have to wait until Spain in three weeks time which signals the end of the flyaways and the beginning of the European leg of the season.

  26. 1532: 

    We will also have plenty of video on this very website throughout the afternoon, handpicking the best moments, interviews and analysis.

  27. 1526: 

    Now if you missed any of the action, may I suggest dipping into Andrew Benson's report which should cover all angles. Then hold tight until 1700 BST when BBC One and BBC One HD will screen a race replay show with plenty of reaction and analysis.

  28. 1520: 

    And here's how the constructors' standings look:

    1) Red Bull - 101

    2) McLaren - 92

    3) Lotus - 57

    4) Ferrari - 45

    5) Mercedes - 37

    6) Sauber - 31

    7) Williams - 18

    8) Force India - 17

    9) Toro Rosso - 6

    10) Marussia - 0

  29.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Phillip Maddocks on Twitter:\u200f "Three points separating the top five drivers in the Championship, this is going to be a cracking and unpredictable season!"

  30. 1515: 

    Here's what the drivers' standings looks like after round four in Bahrain:

    1) Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull - 53

    2) Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - 49

    3) Mark Webber - Red Bull - 48

    4) Jenson Button - McLaren - 43

    5) Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - 43

    6) Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 35

    7) Kimi Raikkonen - Lotus - 34

    8) Romain Grosjean - Lotus - 23

    9) Sergio Perez - Sauber - 22

    10) Paul di Resta - Force India - 15

  31.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Sarah Boyle on Twitter: "This is shaping up to be a crazy F1 season! Good to see more competitive driving, just wish it had gone a little better for McLaren!"

  32.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jonny Symes on Twitter:\u200f "Excellent drive from the Lotus team, it's just a shame Kimi couldn't take that final plunge."

  33. 1510: 

    Crikey, I need a lie down after that. What a cracking race. I can't remember the last time we have had such an unpredictable opening few races. Sebastian Vettel's victory means we have had four different winners - Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg - this season - in three different cars - Red Bull joining McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes.

  34.  

    Kimi Raikkonen admitted his relief at bouncing back from last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, where he dropped from second to 14th when his tyres 'fell off the cliff'. "At least we got on the podium with both cars," he said. "In the last race we failed and probably people thought we were a bit stupid. But it turned out to be the right direction and the team deserves what it has achieved today."

  35.  

    And a bit more from Sebastian Vettel: "It's a very tight season. The cars are very close to each other. Small things can make a huge difference. We started the season with McLaren as the best car by far but we have seen Sunday can be a different picture. I think they still have one of strongest packages. China was a very good lesson for us, driving two packages. For here we focused on our new package and pushing that forward. I'm just happy for now. I don't care what happens in the next race, at least not today."

  36.  

    Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who finished third: "It was great. I'm very proud of the team. We knew we had a good car, we were little bit surprised at how quick we were. We tried a different strategy to Kimi and it turned out to be not too bad. I think our car is very competitive. It has been a tight season and every small detail makes a big difference. I'm very happy to get my first podium. The next target is victory."

  37.  

    Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second: "I think we gave ourselves a chance but I'm disappointed I didn't manage to win it. I made a small mistake at the beginning, lost one place to Ferrari, and I had to get that place back. In the end we were not fast enough to win. I got one chance to get past Sebastian but I chose the wrong side. That was the only chance really."

  38.  

    More from Sebastian Vettel: "The strategy, everything seemed to work. I can only say a big thank you to the team. They did an incredible job. The amount of work they had to do which we have given them because we were weren't happy with the car. Little tweaks here and there. It was tough. We were trying to get the car to our liking. We got it right this weekend, I was very happy in qualifying and the race to be fair."

  39.  
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    Sebastian Vettel, who took his first victory of the season: "I think it was an incredible race, extremely tough. We had a good start, I was able to pull away immediately which turned out to be a big advantage because we always had to go on a used set of tyres as we used nearly all of them in qualifying. Kimi was very quick, so was Romain."

  40.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jacob Davies on Twitter:\u200f "Great result for Paul di Resta finishing sixth! He will hopefully break through this season!"

  41.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Infostrada Sports on Twitter:\u200f "Half of Vettel's GP wins (11 of 22) have come in Asia. Only Michael Schumacher (13) and Fernando Alonso (12) have won more GPs in Asia."

  42.  
    RACE RESULT

    So here's a full rundown of results. Vettel, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Webber, Rosberg, Di Resta, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher complete the top 10. Then Perez, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Vergne, Ricciardo Petrov, Kovalainen, Button, Glock, De la Rosa, Karthikeyan, Senna, Maldonado and Pic.

  43. 1450: 

    Sebastian Vettel sprays the fizzy rosewater - we don't have champagne here - and enjoys the moment with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. He takes some time to pose for pictures with his boss on the podium - I suspect they might frame one of those for motivation in the office.

  44.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Danny Morrison on Twitter:\u200f "Four races, four winners, Formula 1 springs surprises again. Day to forget for McLaren...day to remember for Lotus."

  45. 1447: 

    The German national anthem rings out around Bahrain with Sebastian Vettel closing his eyes and taking it all in. That's his 22nd career victory, equalling Damon Hill's record of victories and 11th in the all-time win standings.

  46. 1445: 

    That's Romain Grosjean's first podium in 11 starts. The Franco-Swiss has looked quick all season, but not quite managed to make it all happen until now. Lotus will be chuffed.

  47.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "It's a great comeback for Kimi Raikkonen. He's not a man to say too much out of the car - he does his talking on the track."

  48. 1443: 

    Sebastian Vettel grabs a bottle of water as they wait to go onto the podium. Red Bull boss Christian Horner congratulates Kimi Raikkonen saying: "You had a pretty strong race, huh?" Raikkonen replied: "Not strong enough!"

  49. 1440: 
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    Emotional scenes in the pit-lane as Sebastian Vettel jogs down the pit-lane with helmet in his hands. He waves to the crowd, hugs Red Bull mechanics along the way and then embraces team boss Christian Horner.

  50.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Gary Grafter on Twitter:\u200f "While I hate that finger, I have to grudgingly admit that without doubt Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are a class act."

  51.  
    LAP 57

    Nico Rosberg is fifth and he parks his Mercedes in front of Sebastian Vettel's abandoned Red Bull at the pit exit. Paul di Resta is sixth, holding off Fernando Alonso with Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher completing the top 10.

  52.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "Sebastian Vettel, the double world champion, has drove absolutely beautifully here all weekend long. It's the first Red Bull win of 2012."

  53.  
    LAP 57

    Kimi Raikkonen takes second - his best finish of his comeback - ahead of Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean. Mark Webber crosses the line in fourth.

  54.  
    LAP 57

    Sebastian Vettel is told by his team that as soon he crosses the line, he must stop the car at the pit exit.

  55.  
    CHEQUERED FLAG

    *SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX*

  56.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jamie Short on Twitter:\u200f "Can Lotus be regular challengers against Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes? It'll be interesting to see if they can keep it up."

  57.  
    LAP 57

    We're into the last lap of the race with Sebastian Vettel cruising up front. It looks like we're going to have the first Red Bull win of the year and fourth different winner in as many races.

  58.  
    LAP 56

    It's all over for Jenson Button. The team tell him he has a cracked exhaust, and seconds later he backs off and pulls into the McLaren garage.

  59.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "I think the top three is going to stay as it is - unless something remarkable happens."

  60.  
    LAP 56

    It's disappointing day for the Williams team as Bruno Senna parks his car in the garage, alongside Pastor Maldonado who retired earlier on.

  61.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "I suspect that was an engineering call. They would have said 'Jenson you've got to come in because there is an unsafe pressure in your tyre levels'."

  62.  
    LAP 55

    We're running out of laps now as Lewis Hamilton continues to close on Fernando Alonso. It looks like the battle for the lead is over as Sebastian Vettel extends his lead to 3.2 seconds. Meanwhile, Jenson Button tells his team he may have an exhaust issue.

  63.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Paul di Resta has done a great job this afternoon - he's the only man on two stops to make it work. Once more Force India and Paul di Resta are making good use of that alternative strategy."

  64.  
    LAP 54

    Just as I say Jenson Button is closing, he dives into the pits as he has a right rear deflation. That's terrible luck for the McLaren driver.

  65.  
    LAP 53

    Jenson Button is closing on Paul di Resta now, while Lewis Hamilton takes time out of Fernando Alonso in the battle for eighth. Plenty of racing left with four laps left.

  66.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "Raikkonen is being fended off by Vettel - there's litle to choose between them. But Vettel is just about controlling things."

  67.  
    LAP 52

    Nico Rosberg leaves it late as he chases Paul di Resta down the pit straight. The Mercedes dives down the inside, locks his front tyres, but makes the move stick. That's a move for P5 - where the Mercedes driver started.

  68.  
    LAP 52

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner looks pensive, sitting on the pit-wall. It's understandable considering he has yet to see one of his cars win a race this season. It's looking good for his man Sebastian Vettel, though.

  69.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Chris Peach on Twitter:\u200f "Michael Schumacher needs to take a leaf out of Kimi Raikkonen's book. This is how you come out of retirement ... FACT!"

  70.  
    LAP 51

    If things stay like this Sebastian Vettel will take the lead of the World Championship. Who would have thought that after the start the Red Bull driver had this season, eh? The German looks comfortable in the lead now, managing the gap between himself and the Finn.

  71.  
    LAP 50

    Mark Webber is Mr Consistent. The Red Bull driver is in fourth, the same position he has finished in every race this season. Unfortunately for Lewis Hamilton, it doesn't look like he will get his fourth third place finish as he struggles for pace in ninth.

  72.  
    LAP 49

    Kimi Raikkonen has lost time to Sebastian Vettel as the gap is now 2.9 seconds with eight laps left. Nico Rosberg closes on Paul di Resta but can't quite make a move on the start-finish straight.

  73.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "How many good stories can we have in Formula 1 in terms of the racing? We're only four races in and we've had such a mix of winners."

  74.  
    LAP 48

    Kimi Rakkonen finally clears the lapped Caterham of Vitaly Petrov. Now he can see the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel in his sights. The Finn can lock his eyes onto the car in front and now focus on reeling him in. Further back, Nico Rosberg is eating into Paul di Resta's lead over him in the battle for fifth. I suspect the Mercedes will get by shortly because the Force India is really struggling for grip on those old tyres.

  75.  
    LAP 47

    Kimi Raikkonen is 2.6 seconds behind leader Sebastian Vettel, but the good news folks is the Finn is catching. The Lotus driver just took six tenths out of the German. I'm getting goosebumps.

  76.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Nico Brian on Twitter: "If Kimi Raikkonen wins this, am going to buy ice cream and eat it in the rain without a shirt on."

  77.  
    LAP 46

    Kimi Raikkonen is told by his team, Sebastian Vettel "has worse deg than us" which means the Red Bull is harder on the tyres than the Lotus. The team are basically telling him that he can still win this race. We've still got 11 laps to go, so plenty of time for something to happen.

  78.  
    LAP 45

    Michael Schumacher is all over the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. The German feints to the outside and then uses the under cut to get passed on the inside. Super stuff. The Mercedes driver may actually get a point or two.

  79.  
    RACE UPDATE

    Vettel leads Raikkonen by 3.5 secs. Rosberg runs Hamilton and Alonso off circuit. Hamilton down to 9th after two botched pit stops. Di Resta 5th after two-stop strategy. Pic and Maldonado out. 1 Vettel 2 Raikkonen 3 Grosjean 4 Webber 5 Di Resta 6 Rosberg 7 Button 8 Alonso 9 Hamilton 10 Massa.

  80.  

    Williams team on Twitter: "Pastor Maldonado really disappointed as he says car felt best it has so far and he felt points were possible."

  81.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Matthew Harrison on Twitter:\u200f "This season is shaping up very nicely, it's incredible how at least half of the field look capable of winning this race."

  82.  
    LAP 44

    Romain Grosjean is matching Sebastian Vettel for pace in third, and is a couple of tenths quicker than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Looks like the Finn has learned his lesson from China - where he went from second to 14th at the end of the race when his tyres went off the cliff - and is looking after his tyres.

  83.  
    LAP 43

    Paul di Resta's two stop strategy looks to be paying off. He's currently fifth, but he'll have to hold off Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton hunting him down. Anyone wondering where Michael Schumacher is? Well he's 12th but not really making any impressing on Felipe Massa in front of him.

  84.  
    LAP 42

    Sebastian Vettel has set the fastest lap of the race to extend his advantage at the front of the pack. That's a stunning eight tenths of a second quicker than the Finn. BBC co-commentator David Coulthard muses that the Red Bull driver is "trying to cut and run". But will the Red Bull take too much out of his tyres?

  85.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Alex Thornton on Twitter: "I hope Kimi hasn't forgotten how to overtake in his hiatus in rallying!"

  86.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "It's looking great for Lotus to have a double podium this afternoon."

  87.  
    LAP 41

    Romain Grosjean pits for new boots and rejoins in third, behind Sebastian Vettel and his Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. There's quite some gap to Mark Webber who is running in fourth. Lewis Hamilton uses the DRS to perfection down the main straight, launching his McLaren down the inside of Kamui Kobayashi for ninth. Felipe Massa takes advantage and closes up top the back of the Sauber in the battle for 10th.

  88.   
    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "For me, if I was running Kimi Raikkonen, I would have had him in two laps ago. I think he would have picked up his time."

  89.  
    LAP 40

    Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen pit at the same time. Lotus can't change tyres quick enough and the Red Bull keeps the lead. In fact, he's actually gained there. That means the Finn will need to pass on track if he wants to win this race - the first of his comeback. There are 17 laps remaining.

  90.  
    LAP 40

    Felipe Massa is in the pits and rejoins in 10th behind Lewis Hamilton, so that's worked out for the McLaren team. The Brit just set fastest lap, so stopping earlier has worked out for the 2008 world champion.

  91.  
    LAP 39

    Fernando Alonso has a slow stop - unusual for Ferrari who have been the quickest of all this season - and rejoins into traffic. We're just seeing that Sergio Perez is released alongside Michael Schumacher in the pits. The German holds his nerve and stays ahead but will Sauber get a penalty for that?

  92.  
    LAP 38

    Romain Grosjean is taking time out of both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as they battle for the lead. BBC F1 commentator David Coulthard thinks that it might come down to the final round of pit stops to determine the winner of this race.

  93.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Filip Aleksandrow on Twitter:\u200f "Sebastian Vettel has no chance against the Iceman, go Kimi!"

  94.  
    PIT STOP

    Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both pit. Mercedes are lightening quick, but McLaren are slow again. Not as bad as the first two, but still over five seconds.

  95.  
    LAP 37

    Sebastian Vettel's team tell him that he must keep Kimi Raikkonen behind to make the strategy work. Raikkonen loses time in the middle sector and is not close enough on the main straight. No bother as we've still got 20 laps. Can Vettel hold his nerve? This is what we've been waiting for. A test of Vettel's mental toughness.

  96.  
    LAP 36

    Kimi Raikkonen looks like he's too far away from Sebastian Vettel along the start-finish straight, but he uses his DRS to eat into the gap and then has a look down the inside. Vettel aggressively defends the position and Raikkonen backs off, tucking back in so he can prepare for another go.

  97.  
    LAP 35

    Kimi Raikkonen is all over the back of Sebastian Vettel. The Finn started 11th, the German on pole, yet they are now battling each other for the lead. It just goes to show how saving an extra set of tyres can make such a difference in the race.

  98.  
    LAP 34

    We've just flicked through the sporting regulations and found this: "Article 10.4 of sporting regulatons: Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted." Nico Rosberg might be a little concerned then after his brutal defence of position against Fernando Alonso.

  99.  
    LAP 33

    Paul di Resta pits for a new set of boots and we're hearing that he won't be coming back in again, so he'll have to last a massive 24 laps on those tyres. Let's see if the gamble pays off.

  100.  
    RACE UPDATE

    Vettel leads Raikkonen, who is catching him. Rosberg runs Hamilton and Alonso off circuit. Hamilton down to 11th after two botched pit stops. Pic and Maldonado out. 1 Vettel 2 Raikkonen 3 Grosjean 4 Webber 5 Di Resta 6 Button 7 Rosberg 8 Alonso 9 Massa 10 Hamilton.

  101.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rob Backhurst on Twitter:\u200f "Thank god Kimi Raikkonen is back in F1...this season will be something special."

  102.  
    LAP 32

    It's all hotting up at the front as Kimi Raikkonen takes 0.7 seconds out of leader Sebastian Vettel to reduce the lead to 1.1 seconds. I bet Vettel didn't expect this to happen. Now we'll see how the German copes under pressure from the overtaking genius that is Raikkonen.

  103.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Lewis Hamilton is really struggling here. Could he be nursing a problem we're not aware of?"

  104.  
    BBC Radio 5 live Analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Kimi Raikkonen is catching Sebastian Vettel. He could win this race. The soft tyres are lasting on that Lotus."

  105.  
    LAP 31

    Sebastian Vettel is still leading, but the gap is a mere 1.8 seconds. If Kimi Raikkonen can find 0.8 seconds, he will be able to use the DRS. Further back, Felipe Massa is all over the back of Fernando Alonso. Who would have though that would happen, eh? They are battling for ninth and two World Championship points. Alonso is on the harder compound, though and Massa on the softer.

  106.  
    LAP 30

    Lewis Hamilton asks whether Felipe Massa has to stop to which the McLaren team respond that the Brazilian is on the same strategy so is racing him for position. Hamilton is struggling, though. He loses three tenths on the previous lap and another tenth on this one. What is going on with the McLaren?

  107.  
    RETIREMENT

    Pastor Maldonado suffers from a left-rear puncture and disappears into a cloud of tyre smoke as the car spins 360 degrees - just behind the moment Rosberg nearly runs Alonso off the road. The Williams driver crawls back to the pits and retires the car. It looks like suspension damage.

  108.  
    LAP 29

    Mark Webber uses the DRS to easily pass the Force India of Paul di Resta for fourth place. The gap between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen is static at the moment, but the Red Bull driver has been given the hurry up by his team.

  109.  
    LAP 28

    Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa have found each other again. Ah, it's like 2011 all over again. The McLaren is all over the back of the Brazilian who is keeping pace with his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in front. Massa locks a tyre but keeps his car on track and holds of Hamilton for another day.

  110.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Stephanie Potts on Twitter:\u200f "Hoping our three Brit Boys can find some magic in Bahrain now. Come on Button, Hamilton and Di Resta!!!

  111.  
    LAP 28

    We see a replay of Fernando Alonso waving his hand furiously at Nico Rosberg after the German forces him off track. Alonso gets onto his radio and tells his team that Rosberg left him no space.

  112.  
    LAP 27

    Sebastian Vettel rejoins in the lead, but Kimi Raikkonen has visibly closed the gap to the Red Bull. This race certainly isn't over yet. We've got Vettel leading from Raikkonen and Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.

  113.  
    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen

    "This is a side to Nico Rosberg we haven't seen before. It steely and over the top."

  114.  
    LAP 26

    There's some sensational driving from Nico Rosberg who bravely battles to keep Fernando Alonso behind. He forces the Ferrari driver way off track. Brutal stuff. Both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean pit.

  115.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rob Knowles on Twitter:\u200f "Fascinating race taking place behind Vettel, so many battles and changing positions. Brilliant."

  116.  
    LAP 25

    Lewis Hamilton has another pit stop issue. It's the left rear again. I'd love to hear what he is saying to himself inside that helmet.

  117.  
    LAP 24

    Kimi Raikkonen finally gets past Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean into Turn 1. Sensible driving for both drivers there as the Finn is clearly fastest. Fernando Alonso pits and comes out alongside Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes slithers and slides as he battles to keep ahead. The Ferrari gets alongside, but Rosberg keeps the inside line into Turn Three and holds position.

  118.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Sam Higham on Twitter:\u200f "No-one can say this hasn't been the most exciting race of the season so far, even with all the political controversy."

  119.  
    LAP 23

    Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa all dive into the pits for the second time. Button goes for the harder medium tyre. Massa takes the yellow soft tyres. Rosberg comes out in traffic, behind the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne. He won't be happy with that. Elsewhere, Sergio Perez completes a good move up the inside of Daniel Ricciardo.

  120.  
    LAP 22

    Paul di Resta is absolutely flying at the moment. He wastes no time reeling in the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. He gets a good run on the Brazilian down the inside straight but isn't quite close enough into Turn 11 so tucks back in. Up front, Kimi Raikkonen is all over the back of Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean in the battle for second. He's clearly quicker but can't find a way by yet.

  121.  
    LAP 22

    As Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado squabble over 10th place, Paul di Resta says: 'I'll have a bit of that' and fires past both of them on the exit of Turn 4. Maldonado makes his pass stick, but he remains 11th. The big loser there is Perez who loses two places to 12th.

  122.  
    LAP 21

    We're hearing the Mercedes are telling Michael Schumacher that his team-mate is taking a different line into the Turn One hairpin and managing to get on the power earlier than him - and maybe he should try doing that. Schumacher getting driving lessons. Hmmm, can't imagine that went down that well with the seven-time world champion.

  123.  
    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Lotus are very happy. Romain Grosjean says he's really happy with the tyre performance. They were working on a completely different strategy in practice and it seems to be paying off."

  124.   
    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "McLaren obviously have to change something with Hamilton. I imagine their Plan B was to stretch out to two stops - but it's going to be very difficult for them."

  125.  
    LAP 20

    Paul di Resta is all over the back of Pastor Maldonado in the battle for 11th. This battle is losing both drivers time, which means Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes can start to make some in roads into the three second gap between them. Di Resta tells his team that the Venezuelan is "weaving all over the place". That's one unhappy Scot.

  126.  
    LAP 19

    After a fast and frantic start, and the first round of pit stops, things are starting to settle down a bit. Sebastian Vettel is looking very comfortable up front, with a five second lead, but those two Lotus cars of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are looking racy and finally appear to be showing the pace we all suspect they had.

  127.  
    LAP 18

    Lewis Hamilton is told that they are switching to Plan B. Not sure what that means, but I suspect the team are changing their strategy after the pit stop error. That is going to be one unhappy Briton in the post-race interviews.

  128.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jarleth Eaton on Twitter:\u200f "Ah, the return of the Sebastian Vettel domination. But, still hasn't shown that he can win when he's not on pole."

  129.  
    LAP 17

    Michael Schumacher is told that Paul di Resta is in front of him on a two-stop strategy and that he must overtake him to make their strategy work. The German has fought his way up to 13th overall from 22nd.

  130.  
    RACE UPDATE

    Vettel is pulling away, as Hamilton falls back after a botched pit stop. No retirements so far. 1 Vettel, 2 Grosjean, 3 Raikkonen, 4 Webber, 5 Button, 6 Hamilton, 7 Alonso, 8 Rosberg, 9 Massa, 10 Perez.

  131.  
    LAP 16

    Felipe Massa is having a fine race so far. The car may be off the pace in terms of challenging for the win, but he's only a second behind Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in ninth, with Nico Rosberg splitting them.

  132.  
    LAP 15

    Paul di Resta comes into the pits after a marathon 15 laps on that set of soft tyres. Incredible stuff. Out on track, Kimi Raikkonen is the fastest man on the track, dipping into the low 1m39s. The Finn is third, behind Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean with Sebastian Vettel holding a comforable five seconds lead at the front.

  133.   
    BBC F1 Technical Analyst Gary Anderson

    "Lewis Hamilton had exactly the same problem as Button had in China. It was six seconds lost. It was one of those situations where the left rear guy has got a problem of some sort."

  134.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Ashley Wilkinson on Twitter: "McLaren desperately need to sort out their pitstops, because they are costing Lewis and Jenson places every week."

  135.  
    LAP 14

    Lewis Hamilton is on the attack, closing up onto the back of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. He uses Kers on the exit of Turn Two and that pulls out of the slipstream and down the inside into Turn Three. That was for eighth place. Next up is team-mate Jenson Button in seventh.

  136.  
    LAP 13

    Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi is fourth and yet to stop. He was the only driver to start on the medium so can really gain here.

  137.  
    LAP 12

    Sebastian Vettel retakes the lead of the grand prix, passing the Force India of Paul di Resta who is struggling on old tyres at Turn One. Kimi Raikkonen is putting Mark Webber under pressure in the battle for fifth. Nice clean driving from both drivers. I have to say the Lotus is in fine shape. The Finn uses Kers out of Turn 10, gets into the slipstream and then pulls off the pass into Turn 11. Lovely stuff.

  138.  
    LAP 11

    Paul di Resta is leading the grand prix as a result of the pit stops. It's been a while since we have seen a Force India up front. Jenson Button puts a great move on Fernando Alonso for seventh. Lewis Hamilton is just behind in ninth, ahead of Nico Rosberg.

  139.  
    LAP 10

    Nico Rosberg tells his team that Lewis Hamilton passed him off track. Let's see if the stewards investigate that.

  140.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "What is going on with McLaren's pit stops? They have analysed their pit stops so closely, yet something has gone wrong again."

  141.  
    LAP 10

    Fernando Alonso rejoins and manages to get out in front of Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton comes out into the path of Nico Rosberg. He loses the place initially but then runs off track as he's side-by-side with German. He keeps his foot on the gas and his fresher tyres give him the grip to edge ahead enough to cut back in front. Extraordinary stuff from Hamilton who was fuming after that pit stop error.

  142.  
    LAP NINE

    Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso all pit at the same time but it's an absolute nightmare for the McLaren team. They have a problem with the rear wheel and he's left sitting there as Alonso and Webber both leave the pits. He eventually leaves but he's lost two spots.

  143.  
    PIT STOP

    It's fast and furious in the pits as Felipe Massa and Jenson Button pit for a new set of boots. Up front, Sebastian Vettel leads from Romain Grosjean, who is catching the Red Bull slightly. Lewis Hamilton is third with Mark Webber tantalisingly close behind.

  144.  
    LAP EIGHT

    Here comes Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso is a sitting duck as the Finn blasts past on the start-finish straight using his DRS for fifth place. There is such a difference in speed when you use the overtaking aid.

  145.  
    BBC Radio 5 live Analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Lewis Hamilton is struggling on his rear tyres - I can see them. He's been pushing so much in the last sector."

  146.  
    LAP SEVEN

    The other Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen is on the move, too. The Finn gets by the McLaren of Jenson Button around the outside for sixth. Button radios his team and tells them he's struggling with massive understeer. Daniel Ricciardo is the first man to blink and pits for some tyres and a new nose.

  147.  
    LAP SIX

    Sebastian Vettel looks in tip top shape up front. The Red Bull has disappeared into the distance. Just behind him, Romain Grosjean is flying. He uses his DRS to launch his Lotus by the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton oon the start-finish straight. There was nothing the Brit could do as Grosjean slides into second. Can the Franco-Swiss catch Vettel now?

  148.  
    LAP SIX

    Daniel Ricciardo had a miserable start. After qualifying sixth, he's all the way down in 17th. It's all gone wrong for the Australian who is now behind his Toro Rosso team-mate. Dear, oh dear.

  149.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Richard Long on Twitter:\u200f "I think there have been more overtakes in the last eight minutes than there has been in all the other Bahrain GPs put together."

  150.  
    LAP FIVE

    Kimi Raikkonen is driving the wheels off that Lotus. Clearly fuming from losing a place to Felipe Massa, the Finn forces his way back through. Massa gives him room, but not too much, and the Lotus gets through. The DRS is activated by the way, so we may see a bit more overtaking shortly.

  151.  
    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "That dust is beginning to clear now. The grip is beginning to get better but the problem is now the tyres are getting hotter and hotter."

  152.  
    LAP FOUR

    Plenty of drivers locking up their tyres at the moment. First Lewis Hamilton, as he tries to hold on to Sebastian Vettel, and then Romain Grosjean who is all over the Red Bull of Mark Webber in the battle for third.

  153.   
    BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

    "Fernando Alonso was the big winner at the start - he's currently in fifth place. Vettel has gone clear at the front. The gap has already grown to 2.9 seconds."

  154.  
    LAP THREE

    Super stuff from Felipe Massa. He gets a run on Kimi Raikkonen into Turn One. The two former team-mates come close to banging wheels but Brazilian holds his nerve and gets through for seventh place. Next up is Jenson Button.

  155.  
    LAP TWO

    There's contact in pack with Heikki Kovalainen getting the brunt of it. He's got a rear puncture and trails off into the pits. Fernando Alonso had a super start, too, rising to fifth with a great launch from ninth. Sebastian Vettel is absolutely flying at the moment. The German takes six tenths out of Hamilton in the second sector and now leads by over two seconds.

  156.  
    LAP ONE

    A supreme start from Sebastian Vettel who gets away cleanly from pole position to hold off Lewis Hamilton into Turn One. It's a miserable start for Jenson Button who drops from third to sixth. There's so much dust on the track, which is kicked up as the drivers fly around the track. Everyone gets through the first corner unscathed, though.

  157. 1303: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    We're all go, go, go in Bahrain!

  158. 1302: 

    The cars have filed into position on the grid. Now it's time for FIA race director Charlie Whiting to, in the words of the Sugababes, Push The Button and get this race under way.

  159. 1300: 

    So this is it. The 24 drivers are setting off on the formation lap. Next time we see them, it'll be five lights, four lights, three lights, two lights, one light, go! You know the drill. Nerve-wracking moments.

  160.  
    BBC Radio 5 live Analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "It's a very interesting race because there is a lot going on with tyres and a lot going on with strategy. I think any of the top five cars can win."

  161. 1259: 

    We're hearing that everyone apart from Kamui Kobayashi, who is P12, is starting on the less durable but faster option tyre. The Japanese has gone for the medium compound.

  162. 1258: 

    Here's a quick rundown of the grid before we get going.

    1) Sebastian Vettel 2) Lewis Hamilton 3) Mark Webber 4) Jenson Button 5) Nico Rosberg 6) Daniel Ricciardo 7) Romain Grosjean 8) Sergio Perez 9) Fernando Alonso 10) Paul di Resta

    11) Kimi Raikkonen 12) Kamui Kobayashi 13) Nico Hulkenberg 14) Felipe Massa 15) Bruno Senna 16) Heikki Kovalainen 17) Jean-Eric Vergne 18) Vitaly Petrov 19) Charles Pic 20) Pedro de la Rosa 21) Pastor Maldonado 22) Michael Schumacher 23) Timo Glock 24) Narain Karthikeyan.

  163.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Will Montgomery on Twitter:\u200f "Fluctuating track temperatures could be handy for Mercedes if it goes cool, knowing how they perform on their tyres."

  164. 1257: 

    The balconies of the iconic control tower at the end of the pit straight are rammed. I reckon those are the best seats in the house as you can pretty much see the whole circuit from up there. The buzzer has just gone, which means anyone who is not relevant to getting the car moving must now clear off the grid.

  165. 1256: 

    Lewis Hamilton has rolled his earplug in his fingers, placed them carefully into his ears and then slid his yellow helmet on. He steps into the car, keeping his eyes looking forward as his team strap him in. The Brit is on the dirty side of the grid, so may struggle for grip of the start. But he knows what he has to do.

  166.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Coleman on Twitter:\u200f "Really hope Romain Grosjean can once again produce a performance that will get the big boys' nerves tingling!"

  167. 1254: 

    Sauber's Sergio Perez has been arguably the revelation of the season in 2012, narrowly missing out on victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix last month. The Mexican has been in inspired form this season but admits "a podium doesn't look realistic at all". Instead, the 22-year-old said "we will go for points" from eighth on the grid as "this track isn't an easy one for us anyway."

  168.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Some of the teams are predicting pit stops as early as laps six or seven - which will force other drivers to react to stop themselves being jumped, as happened after Mark Webber's early stop on China last weekend. But drivers stopping early will then have to be careful of tyre wear later on. According to the teams' information, drivers doing two-stop races will probably be in front by the time the pit stops are over, but will be vulnerable to those attacking from behind on fresher tyres - and to a much greater extent than in China last weekend."

  169. 1252: 

    The grandstand opposite the pit straight is almost full now with a real mix of flags and driver/team allegiances. Only 30 minutes ago it was empty. Finally, this is beginning to feel like a Formula 1 grand prix. Let 'race fever' commence.

  170. 1250: 

    McLaren's Jenson Button is deep in conversation with his race engineer, but he seems agitated. "The ice vest is digging into my chest a bit," he says. Ah, that'll be why.

  171.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Steven on Twitter: "It was only a matter of time before Sebastian Vettel got pole again. With cooler conditions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button can fight back in the race."

  172.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Nick Duly on Twitter: "Start of Sebastian Vettel's dominance? No chance! This is Formula 1 after all! Twists and turns all the way."

  173.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Aiden White on Twitter:\u200f "If it's dry I wouldn't rule out Mark Webber for the win, Mercedes will shred their tyres. If it's changeable, got to be Jenson Button."

  174.   
    BBC F1 Technical Analyst Gary Anderson

    "The prediction by most engineers is that this will probably be a three-stop race, with some trying to hold on despite the high thermal tyre degradation to do two, and others trying for four, despite the traffic issues involved. Most predict Red Bull and McLaren will battle hard for the win, and Mercedes might join them - although Mercedes' race pace was not as strong in the simulation runs on Friday."

  175.  

    McLaren driver Jenson Button: "Most people will be on three-stop strategies. Some are saying there will be people doing four-stop strategies. Ours is complicated. I don't really know what I'm doing yet."

  176.  

    Paul Hembery added: "We can expect three stops for most of the leading runners, although some may try two depending on which compound they favour." At the other end of the scale, HRT are expecting between three and four stops.

  177. 1246: 
    TYRE UPDATE

    Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery expects tyres to play a crucial role in the race with a 0.6-0.8 seconds between the two compounds - soft and medium. Hembery added that he thinks the soft tyres are less durable and will last between 18 and 20 laps in race conditions with a window of 23-25 laps for the mediums in the 57 lap race.

  178.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "One of the best performances in qualifying has to be Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo ending up sixth on the grid. The sunny Australian was helped by Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta not doing laps in the final qualifying session but, with team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne a somewhat bemused 18th, it's still a remarkable achievement, which earned a 'good effort' from fellow countryman Mark Webber. But Ricciardo is keeping his feet on the ground in terms of expectations. 'I have to focus on points, as this is the best chance we have had so far,' he said."

  179.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Dave Price on Twitter:\u200f "McLaren and Red Bull fighting it out...the makings of a juicy race methinks. Prediction: Hamilton, Button, Vettel."

  180. 1244: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Just a reminder with race time drawing ever nearer that I want to hear your thoughts throughout the day. Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or get on your mobile, texting 81111 (UK only) and remembering to put your name on it.

  181. 1243: 

    F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt are on the grid with an assortment of VIP guests with a trail of snappers following in their wake. Meanwhile, all around them the teams are making the final tweaks on their machines and the drivers having final chats with their engineers.

  182. 1241: 

    And here's 1-12...

    1) Sebastian Vettel 2) Lewis Hamilton 3) Mark Webber 4) Jenson Button 5) Nico Rosberg 6) Daniel Ricciardo 7) Romain Grosjean 8) Sergio Perez 9) Fernando Alonso* 10) Paul di Resta* 11) Kimi Raikkonen 12) Kamui Kobayashi.

    * Both Alonso and Di Resta failed to set a time in Q3 which saved a set of tyre and allows them free choice on the rubber they start the race on.

  183. 1239: 

    With a little over 20 minutes until the start of the race, let me give you a rundown of the grid, starting with 13-24...

    13) Nico Hulkenberg 14) Felipe Massa 15) Bruno Senna 16) Heikki Kovalainen 17) Jean-Eric Vergne 18) Vitaly Petrov 19) Charles Pic 20) Pedro de la Rosa 21) Pastor Maldonado* 22) Michael Schumacher* 23) Timo Glock 24) Narain Karthikeyan.

    *Maldonado and Schumacher qualified 17th and 18th respectively, but both were given a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

  184.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Michael Schumacher's chances of taking his first victory since China 2006 surely evaporated with the DRS failure that ensured he was knocked out of first qualifying. He can still hope for a strong race, though - he has lots of sets of new tyres, and could charge through the field in the way Red Bull's Mark Webber did in China last year. 'That is obviously the only upside to a non-working DRS in the final sector that put us out,' Schumacher said. 'It is going to be interesting, entertaining for all of us.' He had a further blow on Sunday morning when it emerged the team were taking the opportunity to change his gearbox - which drops him to 22nd on the grid."

  185. 1236: 

    On the other side of the Mercedes garage, the weekend has gone from bad to darn right terrible for Michael Schumacher...

  186. 1235: 

    Nico Rosberg has looked in good shape all weekend, but he was found wanting in qualifying on Saturday, managing just the fifth fastest time after his pole position heroics in China. The Mercedes driver was far from unhappy, though, and admitted the team had compromised their qualifying set-up to focus on race pace. "I am the only driver in the top five who has a set of new option tyres which can be very useful at this circuit," he said.

  187.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was an impressive fifth fastest in second qualifying on Saturday but then did not do a timed lap in the top-10 shoot-out - the reason being he had used all his new sets of 'soft' tyres to get that far. He is hoping the freedom to choose the tyres on which he starts the race, and having three new sets of 'medium' tyres will help him. "The aim?" Alonso said. "To finish in the points, around sixth or seventh place. I know, it's not brilliant, but that's what we can do with the car we have."

  188. 1232: 

    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan says there is a real possibility of protests during the race adding that while security is tighter than it ever has been, all it takes is for someone to get into the venue, seemingly as a fan, and unfurl a banner or get on to the track.

  189. 1230: 

    The pit-lane is now open, which means drivers are free to drive their cars round to the grid where they will meet their mechanics for final preparations. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel pulls on his gloves, the team fire up his engine ready and away he goes.

  190.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mohamed Al Junaibi on Twitter:\u200f "My bet is that the Red Bulls won't be able to maintain racing pace. They've got two McLarens and a Mercedes behind them."

  191.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Luke Bangs on Twitter: "Sergio Perez has a real chance if rain does come in. He has speed in the wet as shown in Sepang only Jenson Button can hold him off."

  192.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Hirra on Twitter:\u200f "Going to be a good race, unpredictable and interesting with rain. I think its between the McLarens for the race win!"

  193.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "If Lewis Hamilton is going to challenge Sebastian Vettel for victory, a lot will depend on the start - preventing Vettel leading the first lap could be crucial as it would stop him employing the tactic he used to win 11 races last year; namely blitz the first two laps, get out of DRS range, and then control the race from there. The problem for Hamilton is he is starting on the even-numbered side of the grid where there is less grip because it is off the racing line. Hamilton said: 'Each year I have started on the dirty side, and here I am again. (But) we have much better launches this year so fingers crossed I'll be able to challenge them down into Turn One.'"

  194.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Lewis Hamilton, second on the grid behind Vettel, suspects that one of the reasons behind Vettel's transformed qualifying pace is the subject that has been on everyone's lips all year - tyre temperature. The new Pirellis are proving difficult to handle, and getting them in the right temperature range can have a dramatic effect on the car's pace. But McLaren have looked consistently strong in all conditions this year and Hamilton is confident of giving Vettel a run for his money."

  195.  

    Constructors' standings after three rounds:

    1) McLaren - 88

    2) Red Bull - 64

    3) Ferrari - 37

    4) Sauber - 31

    5) Mercedes - 26

    6) Lotus - 24

    7) Williams - 18

    8) Force India - 9

  196.  

    Drivers' standings after three rounds:

    1) Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - 45

    2) Jenson Button - McLaren - 43

    3) Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - 37

    4) Mark Webber - Red Bull - 36

    5) Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull - 28

    6) Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 25

    7) Sergio Perez - Sauber - 22

    8) Kimi Raikkonen - Lotus - 16

  197. 1224: 

    It's been quite some season already, with three different winners driving for three different constructors. Jenson Button got his season off to a fine start with victory down under in Melbourne before Fernando Alonso masters the wet conditions to secure a shock victory in Malaysia. Then last weekend in China, Nico Rosberg secured the first win of his career - and Mercedes' first victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. And despite not winning a single race, Lewis Hamilton leads the World Championship.

  198. 1221: 

    The shock weather has not stopped the Bahrainis putting on a show for the handful of fans sitting in the main grandstand, though. We've got men in stilts riding bicyles - which is quite a sight I assure you - others playing bagpipes and a lovely marching band to round it all off. Not a touch on the Chinese Westlife wannabes from last weekend I grant you, but a nice job nonetheless.

  199.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Brian Cunningham on Twitter: "Chance of rain at the Bahrain GP, now that would make it an interesting race. My money would be on rainmaster Schumacher."

  200.  

    Williams driver Bruno Senna on Twitter: "Weather a bit changeable here in Bahrain! Who could ever imagine any chance of rain?"

  201. 1217: 
    WEATHER UPDATE

    I can't quite believe I'm saying this but there's a real chance of rain in Bahrain. Yes rain. Unbelievable scenes. I wouldn't be surprised if Pirelli didn't even bother bringing intermediate and rain tyres because we are in the desert after all. Obviously, they did but you know what I mean. Caterham chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said the weather radars are showing a 40% chance of rain.

  202. 1214: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Were you surprised by Sebastian Vettel's pole lap? Do you think Nico Rosberg has played a blinder setting his car up for the race and saving an extra set of tyres? Can Michael Schumacher fight back and get some points? Whatever is on your mind, F1-related of course, get in touch. Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or get on your mobile, texting 81111 (UK only) and remembering to put your name on it.

  203.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Now race day has arrived, with no-one from F1 hurt in any protests, the remaining concern is whether a protestor will somehow be able to disrupt the race - throwing an even bigger spotlight on those calling for greater human rights and democracy in Bahrain. FIA president Jean Todt has admitted officials cannot necessarily stop it. 'How can I say it cannot happen?' he told BBC Sport on Saturday. The Bahraini authorities say they are confident they can prevent any protests affecting the race."

  204. 1210: 

    We've got 57 laps coming up for you on 5.412km circuit located in the middle of the desert. That's a total race distance of 308.238km with drivers expecting to be on full throttle for 59% of the lap. The circuit features 15 corners (six left and nine right if you were wondering), which will require 52 gear changes per lap, and two long straights with drivers reaching a top speed of 310kph. And breathe.

  205.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Sebastian Vettel has been unhappy with the handling of his Red Bull all year, and even drove the launch-spec car in China last weekend. But in Bahrain he is back in the latest spec, and the car's qualifying pace and Vettel's satisfaction with it have been transformed. 'We've got a lot of parts of different specifications and we have been trying very hard to get the car back to the front,' he said. '. We knew if we got everything together we should have a better qualifying session than previous races. We should be very competitive.'"

  206.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Before this season started, almost no-one within the sport would have predicted that it would be the fourth race before world champion Sebastian Vettel scored a pole position in his Red Bull. Now he has, there is a strong chance he will convert it into his first win since Korea last year. As Lewis Hamilton pointed out on Saturday, Red Bull have had the strongest race pace most of this season."

  207. 1205: 

    Sebastian Vettel may well be on pole, but Lewis Hamilton was within a tenth of the German, and Mark Webber and Jenson Button are lurking on the second row. Watch out for Nico Rosberg who starts fifth - more from him in a bit - and Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher who is back in 17th after a qualifying nightmare.

  208.  

    Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso on Twitter: "Ninth is a bit better than we expected. Sunday "they" will be the protagonists .. ;))))"

    Alonso is referring to the Pirelli tyres which he tweeted a picture of. It's widely considered that those who look after their tyres in the race or have an extra set having saved them from qualifying, will have the edge today.

  209. 1200: 

    As Andrew says, this has indeed been one of the most controversial races in living memory so here's a quick round up of what has happened. On Wednesday, four Force India members of staff had petrol bombs thrown over the top of their car. On Thursday, Sauber staff saw masked men running towards them. On Friday, Force India missed second practice so they could get back to the hotel before dark. On Saturday, an activist was found dead. Later in the day, FIA boss Jean Todt defended the decision to race.

  210.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "The final day one of the most tense and controversial grand prix weekends for many years has finally arrived. The focus both inside Bahrain and on it from outside has almost exclusively been on the decision to hold the grand prix itself. Security is tight on the way into the track. But as Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn put it on Saturday: 'We're here now, and we're having a race.' He went on to say that a 'proper judgement' needed to be taken on the fall-out of the decision to press ahead with this event, but for the next few hours at least the focus will be on what happens on the track and expectations are high for another cracking race."

  211. 1155: 

    Welcome, one and all, to the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The build-up was dominated by debate over whether the race should go ahead, but we're here now - a mere hour away from the lights going out - and boy is it shaping up to be a battle royale.

  212. 1153: 

    OK, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but there's no denying the fact that Sebastian Vettel, the cucumber-wielding German, is back to form having failed to qualify higher than fifth all season. This is the form of a man who started on pole 15 times in 19 races last season on his way to the title.

  213. 1150: 

    The finger strikes back. Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion who has been a mere supporting actor in the F1 show so far this season, showed why he's box office with a blockbuster lap in qualifying on Saturday. Is this the beginning of the end for the rest of the field's title chances?

Formula 1 World Championship 2014

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 190
2 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 176
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 106
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari 97
5 Finland V Bottas Williams 91
6 Germany S Vettel Red Bull 82
7 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 69
8 Great Britain J Button McLaren 59
9 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren 37
10 Brazil F Massa Williams 30
11 Mexico S Perez Force India 29
12 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 19
13 France J Vergne Toro Rosso 9
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 8
15 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso 6
16 France J Bianchi Marussia 2
17 Germany A Sutil Sauber 0
18 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham 0
19 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
20 Mexico E Gutierrez Sauber 0
21 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia 0
22 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham 0

Results

After 67 of 67 laps
Position Driver Team

Race completed. Best Lap: L Hamilton 1:19.908 on Lap 53

1 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes
2 Finland V Bottas Williams
3 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
4 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
5 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
6 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
7 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
8 Great Britain J Button McLaren
9 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
10 Mexico S Perez Force India
11 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
14 Mexico E Gutierrez Sauber
15 France J Bianchi Marussia
16 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Russia D Kvyat (ret.) Toro Rosso
21 France R Grosjean (ret.) Lotus
22 Brazil F Massa Williams