In his first race for F1’s most successful and well known team, Fernando Alonso powered to victory at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
However, it should have been Sebastian Vettel standing on the top step of the podium. The German driver qualified on pole position, with the longer endurance circuit layout making its one and only appearance, and comfortably maintained the gap to the two Ferraris early in the race.
He stopped for the first and only time on lap 18, later than most, and slowly extended his lead over the next few laps. However, his pace started to drop noticeably in the closing stages and it soon became apparent that his RB6 had a problem.
It was later confirmed to be a spark plug issue, with the German soon dropping into the clutches of Alonso. He couldn’t hold him off, with the double world champion surging into the lead. He remained there until the checkered flag and won the race by 16 seconds.
Vettel managed to hang on to fourth place but lost out to Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, making it a 1-2 finish for the Scuderia, and Lewis Hamilton. It was a dream start to his time at the team for Alonso as he took the championship lead.
The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished fifth and sixth, with Jenson Button a disappointing seventh on his debut for McLaren. Mark Webber finished eighth after a smoky start that blinded half of the field at turn two and caused Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil to crash.
Vitantonio Luizzi and Rubens Barrichello completed the top 10 (scoring points due to the new system). Elsewhere, the three news teams had difficult starts with only one of the six cars finishing – the Lotus Racing of Heikki Kovalainen. Karun Chandhok crashed early on after just a handful of laps at the wheel of the Hispania in qualifying.
Lucas di Grassi soon joined him on the sidelines after a hydraulics issue. His team-mate Timo Glock retired shortly after, as it became clear the Virgin Racing team’s 2010 car didn’t have a big enough fuel tank to last the race, with Bruno Senna and Jarno Trulli also failing to complete the race.
The change in track layout was met by criticism from drivers and fans and didn’t stick around for long, with organizers reverting back to the original Grand Prix circuit for the next race to be held in the country in 2012.