As we head into the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix with both championships settled, we rewind to a classic 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Drivers headed to Bahrain that year amidst political tensions and Human Rights protests which saw the 2011 race cancelled at short notice, with many viewing the race as an opportunity to show that all was well within the country despite the reality being far from the truth
Ferrari and Lotus used the opening session to test new aero parts whilst McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time with a 1m 33.527 ahead of Sebastian Vettel by 0.305 seconds, whilst Force India’s Paul Di Resta was a surprise third and 0.578s off Hamilton’s pace.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg however topped FP2 with a 1m 32.816 from Mark Webber and Vettel as FP1 pacesetter, Hamilton slipped to fourth and was 0.220s slower than his time in the first session.
Force India meanwhile sat out FP2 due to security concerns after a petrol bomb incident earlier in the week, which cost them in FP3 with Di Resta finishing 15th quickest and Nico Hulkenberg found himself 2.519s off the pace set by Rosberg with a 1m 33.254 ahead of Vettel and Webber.
Q1 saw Marussia and HRT drivers share the back two rows behind Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov as Jean-Eric Vergne and Michael Schumacher found themselves suffering shock exits in the opening Qualifying session, with Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen sneaking through to Q2.
Kovalainen however was the slowest driver in Q2 as he qualified 16th behind Bruno Senna, Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, whilst Williams’ Pastor Maldonado failed to set a time due to a KERS issue.
Fernando Alonso and Di Resta proceeded to then not compete in Q3 in order to save tyres for the race and lined up ninth and tenth behind Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, Rosberg and Jenson Button who all were outside of the top three grid finishers.
Webber qualified third quickest behind Hamilton who missed out on pole to Vettel by just 0.088s in a tense finish to Qualifying.
Vettel got clean start to hold position ahead of Hamilton and Webber who didn’t have KERS for the opening lap whilst Grosjean, Alonso and Raikkonen maximised the advantage of qualifying the cleaner side on the track to improve position.
Further back, Ricciardo suffered a terrible start to slide down the order whilst Williams’ Senna launched from 15th to 10th with teammate, Maldonado up to 15th from 21st on grid following a grid penalty for changing his gearbox.
Up front, Vettel continued to build a lead ahead of Hamilton as Webber conceded third to Grosjean under DRS on lap four before the Frenchman then took second from Hamilton on lap seven, whilst Raikkonen and Massa scrapped over seventh in the opening stages.
Lap Eight however saw a flurry of pit-stops begin as everyone began struggling with their rear tyre wear with Vettel pitting at start of lap 12 to concede the lead briefly to Di Resta but he quickly regained the lead and controlled the race to the flag.
Raikkonen meanwhile had pitted for soft tyres and reeled in Grosjean but was unable to pass easily as others begun to pit again, with Hamilton encountering left-rear wheel nut issue on both stops, whilst Maldonado retired on lap 26 after spinning due to a puncture just one lap after Caterham’s Charles Pic suffered an engine failure.
Up front, Raikkonen began to threaten Vettel to no avail but by lap 46, everyone in the top ten found themselves on medium tyres with Vettel leading Raikkonen and Grosjean to the checkered flag as both Lotus cars enjoyed a two-three finish ahead of Webber, Rosberg and Di Resta who rounded out the top six.
Alonso, Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher completed the top ten points paying positions whilst Senna retired on lap 55 with vibrations followed by Button a lap later with exhaust issues.
Vettel consequently claimed the championship lead by four points from Hamilton with Webber a further point behind as Button and Alonso completed the top five in the drivers’ standings.